Blog Posts

Reviewing the Zika Virus

February 4th, 2016
Courtesy of iStock

Courtesy of iStock

Sharing media coverage with the election lately is ongoing news about a rapidly spreading virus called the zika virus. While only 36 people (as of this posting) in the United States have contracted this virus, other areas of the continent and the world have been more brutally hit. So much so that the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared it a global public health emergency(1).

Don’t let that scare you too much. Keep in mind, the people in the US who have the zika virus did not get it here. In most cases, they were infected while traveling in countries where the virus is more prevalent and returned with it. The virus is not transmitted from person to person, so the infection does not spread if an infected person touches or breathes on you.

It is spread to people through the bite of an infected mosquito, specifically an Aedes mosquito; and, yes, we have that type of mosquito in the US. This mosquito, which is known to transmit other weird diseases, gets the zika virus by biting an infected person. So, the more infected people, the more infected mosquitoes. The more infected mosquitoes, the more infected people.

According to the WHO, it’s not certain how long after exposure that symptoms will appear, but it’s likely a few days. Symptoms include a fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis (red eyes), muscle and joint pain, malaise and headache. These symptoms are usually mild and last for several days to a week(2). Some people might not even know they’ve been infected.

For most people, zika virus disease will pass with little concern. Treatment is geared to relief of symptoms and should include getting plenty of rest, drinking fluids to prevent dehydration and taking medication such as acetaminophen to reduce fever and pain (3). There is no specific treatment for the virus itself and no vaccine to prevent infection.

There are potential complications of the zika virus, however, and pregnant women and their newborns appear to be at highest risk. In addition to the bite of a mosquito, the virus can be transmitted by a mother to her baby during pregnancy or around the time of birth. The WHO’s emergency declaration comes in the wake of a “strongly suspected” link between the virus and the neurological birth defect called microcephaly.

Statistics have shown that in Brazil, which has seen an explosion of the virus, there are higher than normal cases of microcephaly in populations with evidence of zika infection. Microcephaly is a rather rare condition present at birth in which the infant’s head is abnormally small, which is generally associated with incomplete brain development and intellectual disability.

A potential link between the zika virus and the neurological/autoimmune condition Guillain-Barré syndrome is also suspected. With Guillain-Barré, the individual’s immune system attacks the nerve cells, which causes muscle weakness and sometimes paralysis that can last a few weeks or several months. Most people recover from Guillain-Barré syndrome, but some are left with permanent damage.

Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, affirms the CDC’s commitment to dedicating resources to discovering better testing for diagnosing zika virus, as well as ways to treat it, contain it and prevent it in this country(4). He notes that for non-pregnant people, the virus poses no significant health risk. He also believes that from the information known at this time, a widespread transmission in the contiguous United States appears to be unlikely.

Still, wear your insect repellant and long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors. Stay in places with air conditioning or screens on the windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out. Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, and help children and the elderly with mosquito prevention. Take steps and be safe from all mosquito-borne illnesses, as well as the discomfort of their bites!

A Donation of Life

January 15th, 2016

donateblood

January means it is the beginning of a new year. It also means it is National Blood Donor Month. The American Red Cross offers some vital statistics about the need for donations in this country every year – and every day.

According to the ARC, every two seconds, someone in the US needs blood. Approximately 41,000 blood donations are needed every day, and nearly 21 million blood components are transfused each year. These are for patients who have cancer and other diseases, need organ transplants or are victims of accidents. A single car accident victim alone can need as many as 100 pints of blood.

That’s the need. What about the supply?

The ARC tells us 9.2 million people give 15.7 million blood donations each year in the US. They note that although about 38 percent of the US population is eligible to donate, less than 10 percent actually do. If you’re a donor, thank you! If you’re not and you’re eligible, please consider becoming one.

Donating is easy. Basically, to be eligible, you have to be in general good health and feeling well on donation day. In most states, you have to be at least 17 years old and weigh at least 110 pounds. Weight guidelines might be different for donors under 18.

On the day of donation, you will get a “mini physical.” The technician at the donation site will check your temperature, pulse and blood pressure, as well as the iron level in your blood. These all have to fall within target wellness ranges for you to continue and donate. He or she will also ask you some health history questions. All this is done privately.

If you’re afraid of needles, don’t be put off. These people are experts. I’ve been donating for years, and getting a lot of blood drawn for various tests as well, so I’ve had lots of experience getting stuck with needles, and they’re often the very best at doing it. If you’re donating whole blood, they only take about a pint, and the donation is over in about 10 minutes. They carefully watch you the entire time to make sure you’re OK.

When you’re done, you get something to drink and a snack. They ask you to stay for a few minutes to make sure you’ve stopped bleeding and you don’t get lightheaded. You’re told to hold off on any heavy lifting or exercise and skip the alcohol for a while until your body recoups from the loss of blood.

My local blood donation group makes the results of my mini physical available online a day or so after my donation. I can find my cholesterol level among the blood test results, and I like keeping an eye on that. If you’re donating whole blood, you must wait 56 days between donations.

Now that you know all about about donating blood, won’t you join the 10 percent of the population and become a donor – if you aren’t already. The ARC reminds us that just one donation can help save the lives of up to three people. Think about it.

Feel It? Forget It!

December 8th, 2015
Drinking and driving during the holidays is dangerous

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There are many celebrations going on in the month of December with the holidays and all that goes with them. Here’s one celebration you might not know about. December is National Impaired Driving Prevention Month or to spell it out more clearly, National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month. Part of any prevention month is making people aware of the scope of the problem in the first place.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that every day in the United States, about 30 people die in motor vehicle accidents involving an alcohol-impaired driver. That’s one death every 51 minutes.

The CDC goes on to tell us that drugs other than alcohol, such as marijuana and cocaine, are involved in about 18 percent of motor vehicle deaths. Often, these drugs are used along with alcohol.1 This is called “poly use.” Don’t be fooled. Legal, over-the-counter and prescription medicines can also cause a person to become impaired in some cases. If your medication makes you feel drowsy or “out of it,” don’t pick up the keys.

There’s some good news in the pipeline, though. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administrated announced that in 2014, the number of deaths involving alcohol-impaired drivers dropped below 10,000 for the first time since 2011. Still, there were 9,967 alcohol-related fatalities, accounting for 31 percent of all traffic fatalities in 2014. Further, overall traffic deaths are up 8.1 percent so far in 2015, with the holiday season yet to be included.

It’s especially appropriate to focus on drinking and driving during this time of year. There is traditionally a spike in alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents during the holidays, as many of us celebrate the season a little too much.

How much is too much? Consider this. The standard drink is defined as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits. What you drink is not what’s important. It’s how much you drink over time that determines if you become impaired, and the average person can break down about one alcoholic drink per hour.3 Even if you pace yourself, if you keep drinking, it’s unlikely you’ll keep up.

Are you still reading after having all these numbers thrown at you? I hope so because here’s where you get some tips to keep you or a friend or loved one from becoming one of those statistics in next year’s count. Here are some ideas for staying safe:

  • Before you go out, designate a non-drinking driver to transport you and your friends for the night.
  • Also, set a limit on how many drinks you are going to have, and stick to the plan.
  • If you’re drinking alcohol, alternate those drinks with soda, juice or water.
  • Eat food while you’re drinking.
  • Don’t mix over-the-counter, prescription medications or other drugs with alcohol. Many OTC and prescription medications react with alcohol and can leave you impaired.
  • If you’re hosting a party and plan to make a punch with alcohol, use fruit juice instead of carbonated soda as a mixer. Carbonation helps the alcohol absorb into the bloodstream faster.
  • If you’re out and drinking, don’t drive. Ask a family member or friend to give you a ride or call a taxi.
  • Don’t let your friends drive impaired, either. If they’ve been drinking and shouldn’t drive, take their keys away.
  • If you see an impaired driver on the road, report it. You could be saving someone’s life.

The bottom line is this: If you’re feeling the effects of alcohol or drugs, forget about driving. Even if you think you feel fine, if you’ve been drinking, don’t drive. It’s as simple as that!

Battling Your Breath

November 17th, 2015

When I was in high school, the guy I dated referred to it as “ferocious reindeer breath.” When we got a little older, it was “beer breath.” In both cases, it referred to the scent of our breath after a night of eating pizza and wings (loaded with garlic, of course) or partying with a gang of friends. Fortunately, once the food and drink were out of our systems, we started to smell a bit sweeter.

Millions of Americans struggle with bad breath, many occasionally, some chronically. Have you ever wondered what really causes it and what it takes to get rid of it for good?

As expected, food is the number one source of bad mouth odors. Everyone knows about garlic, but onions and many spicy foods, like those made with curry, are guilty as well. Certain drinks like coffee can also have an effect on breath. The thing with food, though, is that when it’s out of your digestive system, it loses its power. Your breath can bounce back.

Mouth odors from poor dental hygiene take a little more effort to eliminate. If you don’t brush and floss as instructed by your dentist, you could be leaving behind bits of food that rot in your mouth and promote the growth of bacteria. A build-up of bacteria causes inflammation of the tissues and that, in turn, causes a less-than-pleasant aroma.

Getting serious with your oral hygiene is critical. Brush twice a day and brush after you eat. Remember to brush your tongue, too. Floss every day to remove those bits of food between your teeth. And don’t get too attached to your toothbrush; replace it every two to three months. Take extra care in cleaning if you’ve got dentures or an oral appliance like braces or a bridge. See your dentist at least twice a year for a check-up and thorough cleaning.

There are some things you can do to keep ferocious reindeer breath at bay. Keep these tips from the American Dental Association in mind:

  • As mentioned, practice good oral hygiene.
  • Keep an eye on what you eat. Watch the garlic and the spicy foods, but don’t forget they aren’t the only things that can linger on your breath.
  • Drink lots of water. It helps wash away some of those left over bits of food that can feed the bacteria in your mouth.
  • Toss the tobacco. Smoking and chewing tobacco causes bad breath and stains your teeth and can change the way food tastes.
  • Try mouthwash. It’s not a cure, just a cover up to temporarily sweeten your breath, but it helps for a little while. The same is true for gum and mints.

Don’t be embarrassed to ask your significant other or a close friend about your breath. If you get the “thumbs-down,” then follow these tips, and make being close to you an even more pleasant experience!

 

 

 

 

Proven Diabetes Prevention: Lifestyle Modification and The Elderly Advantage!

October 26th, 2015

diabetes issues and help for the elderly

Surprising research demonstrates the elderly have an advantage in preventing Type 2 diabetes by making lifestyle changes.

Over 60 and at risk for diabetes? Your age may be an advantage.

A few years ago, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) rolled out a national program designed to combat one of our country’s most insidious health problems: diabetes. A year-long program designed to help participants make lasting lifestyle changes, the National Diabetes Prevention Program (NDPP) provides practical solutions on how to eat healthier, include physical activity into daily life, and improve problem-solving and coping skills.

The program’s success may lie in the age-old “accountability factor” – not only are participants required to report their weekly diet and exercise progress to a lifestyle coach, they have to be accountable to each other. For six months, they meet weekly in a small group to ideally share improvements. They continue to meet once a month for six months after that.

While older folks know the physical limits of aging all too well, in the case of lifestyle modifications affecting change, NDPP participants over 60 have a documented advantage.

Reported by The New York Times, a large national clinical trial showed that among adults at risk for Type 2 diabetes, this lifestyle modification program and resulting weight loss reduced the incidence of the disease by 58% in 1,000 subjects participating in the NDPP, compared with those who did not.

If you think those numbers are impressive, check out the stats for NDPP participants over the age of 60: a whopping 71% reduction in the incidence of Type 2 diabetes for this age group.

Offered in every state, often at multiple sites, over 527 organizations (community groups, employers, colleges, churches) offer the program, with the Y.M.C.A. enrolling 40 percent of participants nationally. Ann Albright, who directs the diabetes division of the C.D.C. estimates that in the first two years of the program, almost 50,000 Americans have joined an NDPP, which are aimed at people whose weight, blood glucose levels and other factors suggest they are at elevated risk for developing the disease.

Dr. Albright notes that the program is not a “quick-fix weight loss gimmick” but rather a series of lifestyle changes designed to create long-term behavior modification.

Whatever it is, it’s working.

Dr. Albright says that while a four percent reduction of body weight can produce diabetes reduction, the program shoots for five to seven percent. In Y.M.C.A. programs, the organization says, participants average a 5.7 loss after a year.

The elderly advantage

As noted, those over 60 are particularly successful in the program, with a 71% reduction in the incidence of diabetes, as compared to a 58% reduction in other age groups.

So, why do older NDPP participants do exceptionally well?

“It probably has to do with their commitment,” muses Dr. Albright. “They become more engaged. Maybe they realize where they are in their life course.”

Perhaps they also see more diabetes, and its destructive effects. Dr. Albright tells The New York Times that close to ten% of the population has Type 2 diabetes, diagnosed or undiagnosed, and prevalence only rises with age: for those over age 65, nearly 26 percent have the disease.

Feasibly, seeing the life-limiting effects of diabetes in their friends and neighbors motivates those over 60 to commit, and remain committed, to a program with such documented success.

Interested in lowering your risk for diabetes by joining the NDPP?

With over 625 organizations offering the program nationally, C.D.C. recognized programs are listed on the C.D.C. website at: https://nccd.cdc.gov/DDT_DPRP/Registry.aspx

Talking About Belly Fat

October 5th, 2015

I admit it! I’m one of the millions of Americans with that extra roll of fat around the belly – along with a muffin top and all the lumps and bumps that go with it. The truth is, it’s not a laughing matter. Beyond being uncomfortable and unattractive, excess belly fat is also a danger to your health.

Most of the fat around our bellies, about 90 percent, is the stuff you can see and feel, the “pinch an inch” fat. This is what’s called subcutaneous fat, and it’s found between the skin and the outer abdominal wall.1 That’s bad enough, but it gets worse.

Deeper than that is another type of fat called visceral fat. This layer lies beneath the abdominal wall and in the space surrounding the liver, intestines and other organs, and is stored in the tissue that covers the intestines. This fat is a factor in a number of health problems. Having a lot of subcutaneous fat is often a sign that you have significant visceral fat, too.

The thing about fat is that it looks like a blob and it feels like a blob, doing nothing but sitting there expanding. In reality, it’s a biologically active tissue, especially the visceral fat. It actually secretes chemicals, like hormones and proteins, that affect other cells in the body. One of the proteins it releases can trigger an inflammatory response, which is a risk factor for heart disease and other chronic conditions.

Higher levels of visceral fat have been implicated in a number of disorders as reported in this article from Harvard Medical School’s Harvard Health Publications. The one that stands out the most is cardiovascular disease. Several studies have confirmed this connection.

The fat effect hits cardiovascular disease indirectly by impacting its risk factors. Visceral fat tends to increase blood pressure and blood glucose levels, raise triglycerides and lower HDL (“good” cholesterol). This package of risk factors is also known as metabolic syndrome and it poses a high risk for cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes.

If that’s not enough to get you thinking, consider this. Researchers have also found evidence that links higher levels of visceral fat to an increased risk for dementia, asthma, breast cancer and colorectal cancer. Who knows what else?

If you’re feeling moved to do something about the fat around your waist, that’s good because moving is the first thing you need to do. The authors of the Harvard article offer some tips that may help to tackle visceral fat.1 While a lot of it has to do with genetics and other things you can’t control, there are some things you can do, including:

  • Exercise – Exercise can help you lose the bulk around your belly. You might not lose pounds, but you can lose visceral fat and gain muscle mass. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity most days of the week.
  • Eat a healthy diet – Eat a balanced diet that can help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Don’t smoke – When you smoke, fat tends to collect around your belly rather than your hips and thighs.
  • Sleep well – Get a good night’s sleep, but not too much. This applies mostly to people age 40 and under. Try to get more than five hours but not much more than eight a night.
  • Monitor your moods – A women’s health study found that those who had more depressive symptoms had more visceral fat. Higher levels of stress hormones were also linked to more visceral fat.
  • Cancel the procedure – Forget about the liposuction to remove your belly fat. It doesn’t get inside the abdominal wall to reach the deeper fat.

It’s always best to work closely with your doctor, especially before starting an exercise program. He or she can guide you in the best steps to take to take on you belly bulge. Good luck!

Doctors on Call Online?

September 21st, 2015
Doctor looking at medicine through a telemedicine view.

Public domain image.

What can you do when you need to see your doctor, but time is scarce and your home or job is an hour’s drive from the provider’s office? How about a video chat from your desk at work during your lunch break using your laptop, tablet or smartphone? The growing practice of telemedicine can make that happen.

 

Telemedicine is an overdue mode of care delivery that most Americans today are ready and willing to embrace. Another term, telehealth, is often heard as well. Telehealth is a broader term encompassing remote heath care and information services provided over a distance, whereas telemedicine refers more specifically to clinical services and education provided from one site to another.

 

In December, American Well®, the nation’s largest telehealth operator, engaged Harris Poll to complete its 2015 Telehealth Survey of US consumers ages 18 and older. They found that 64 percent of Americans are willing to use video for physician visits.

 

Another group, The Affiliated Workers Association, did a study a few years back and reported that more than 36 million Americans have already used telemedicine in some way. And that was in 2012! Think of how those numbers have grown since then, as more employers are adding a telemedicine component to their employee benefit plans.

 

Convenience is an obvious advantage of this practice. Being able to consult with your doctor from the comfort of your home or office is a no-brainer. This is a great way to handle those regular appointments for things like medication management or for getting a referral, prescription refill or advice on a symptom that has suddenly made an appearance. As long as touching the patient isn’t required to make the diagnosis, most any condition can be dealt with through a telemedicine visit.

 

Also, when it’s easier to see a doctor, you’re more likely to do it. That’s like two benefits in one: improved access and increased compliance. Telemedicine makes it possible for more people to see a doctor to get care and then get the follow-up appointments they need to ensure their treatment plans are working. And if the provider is watching your progress, you’re more likely to follow doctors’ orders!

 

As for health care costs, one of today’s hottest topics, telemedicine is a cost saver in several ways. On one hand, it saves providers money because it is a more efficient way to deliver care. On the other, it saves insurers and patients money because physicians often charge less for a telemedicine visit than an in-person visit. There are the savings on travel expenses, too, especially for those patients who live a long distance from their doctors.

 

Before you key up your next doctor appointment, consider that there are a few drawbacks of the telemedicine approach to care. As mentioned earlier, providers are limited in some cases because they cannot touch the patient. And because the patient is not actually in the room with the provider, the provider might miss out on some critical non-verbal cues that might help put perspective on the patient’s illness and emotional state.

 

Other issues can also negatively affect the use of telemedicine. For one, it is bound by the limitations of the technology. Something can go wrong with the electronics, such as a power outage or lost internet connection. An even bigger hurdle to jump might be the resistance by many doctors who just aren’t comfortable using technology in their practices. Hopefully, this will change and more physicians will explore the options available to them and their patients through services like telemedicine.

 

For more information about this growing trend in care delivery, see this American Telemedicine Association website. Log on!

The Ever-Changing Face of Lung Cancer

September 8th, 2015
second hand smoke is just as bad as smoking and can give you lung cancer

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In 2008, I lost my father to lung cancer. The diagnosis came just three short months before his death at age 80. He was a lifetime smoker, having picked up the bad habit at the young age of 17. The dangers of cigarette smoking were years away from being unveiled and back in the 1940s, smoking was “socially acceptable.”

But in 2006, the world was shocked by the passing of Dana Reeve, widow of actor Christopher Reeve. Never having smoked a day in her life, Ms. Reeve died of lung cancer because of her exposure to second hand smoke while working for years as a singer in bars and restaurants filled with smoke.

Physicians and researchers believe that passive smoke — the smoke exhaled by others — is potentially even more dangerous than actively inhaled smoke.

Just last week, I was taken back by the sudden passing of a friend’s wife from lung cancer. She was 45 and leaves behind two young sons.

Another variable is genes. It is clear that some families have a higher occurrence of lung cancer than would be expected. While some of this might be due to shared smoking, some evidence suggests there are certain genes that predispose to lung cancer.

In approximately 40 percent of people diagnosed with lung cancer, the diagnosis is made after the disease has advanced. In one third of those diagnosed, the cancer has reached stage 3.

According to the Mayo Clinic, signs and symptoms of lung cancer may include:

  • A new cough that doesn’t go away
  • Changes in a chronic cough or “smoker’s cough”
  • Coughing up blood, even a small amount
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Wheezing
  • Hoarseness
  • Losing weight without trying

So, as a smoker, be courteous and careful to those around you. And as a non-smoker, be aware of the risk of being around smoke, even if you don’t smoke yourself!

Afternoon Blues? 5 Easy Ways to Boost your Energy!

August 31st, 2015
Woman running on beach energy boost

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Feeling that mid-afternoon slowdown where you just need a bit of a pick-me-up? Here are a few of my favorite things to do around the office to get my energy up and make it through the remainder of the day.

  1. Move a Little

Even a ten minute stretch break or walk around the office can get the blood moving and produce a lasting pick-me-up. In fact, in a review published in Psychology of Sports and Exercise, researchers found that activities as brief as ten minutes keep you energized for up to four hours. Even that walk around the office will get your blood moving so more oxygen reaches the brain.

  1. Breathe Through Your Belly

Your boy’s number one fuel? Oxygen. If you’re feeling tired at your desk, try taking some deep belly breaths, expanding your ribcage and stomach with every inhale, and pushing your belly button in your spine with every exhale. This great yogic breathing technique will get more oxygen to your brain and throughout the body, to give you an instant wave of energy.

  1. Crank the Tunes!

I’m definitely one of those people that can’t work out without my favorite tunes, because the upbeat tempo of the music keeps the pace of my workout just as fast. Research also shows that people instinctually synchronize movements and expressions to music through a phenomenon called entrainment. So, play some upbeat music and you’re feel that way yourself. Hey, why not dance a little in your chair? No one’s looking!

  1. Drink Water

One of the biggest indicators of lethargy or low energy in dehydration. Because water aids in both body regulation and brain function, it is helpful in regulating our moods. If you aren’t feeling very sharp, boost your alertness with some water!

  1. Dream about your Significant Other

Still sleepy? Try a daydream! Researchers at the University of Western Ontario in Canada observed that when 183 working men and women thought about their current partners, they suddenly increased their blood-sugar levels and, thus, their energy levels.

Autumn Allergy Alert!

August 17th, 2015
Woman having allergy reaction

Public Domain Image

For many of us, spring isn’t the only season for suffering with an itchy throat, red and watery eyes, a stuffy nose, sneezing and other distressing symptoms of allergies. The end of summer brings with it a whole new crop of allergens from sources such as ragweed and the mold in autumn’s decaying leaves and grasses.

Depending on how old you are, you might have heard a late-summer/early autumn allergy referred to as “hay fever.” Ragweed, not hay, is the biggest culprit in causing hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis. Ragweed is known to release pollen from mid-August to about November or, if you live in a colder climate, until there’s a good freeze.

The ragweed plant can grow just about anywhere in the US, but it’s most common in rural areas of the East and Midwest. Don’t think you’re off the hook if you don’t live in these areas. A single ragweed plant can produce up to one billion grains of pollen1, and they’ve been known to travel up to 400 miles!

Mold and mildew, which thrive in the damp environments so common in the fall months, can also trigger autumn allergies. Mold and mildew produce spores that travel through the wind or circulated air in your house. A simple job like raking leaves can send mounds of mold spores into the air – and into your respiratory system!

And don’t forget the everyday allergens like dust and pet dander.1 They can add to your misery when you have an autumn allergy. The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) mentions a few other problem areas for fall allergy sufferers in their article found here.

For people with seasonal allergies that hit at this time of the year, your best bet is to be prepared. There are ways you can get yourself and your environment ready for the autumn allergen onslaught and ways you can manage your allergies once they get here.

First, the ACAAI recommends that you learn what it is that triggers your symptoms. You might think it’s ragweed, but it might be something totally different. An allergist can help you get to the truth of the matter and then find ways to avoid those triggers and reduce – or even eliminate – your symptoms.

An allergist can also recommend appropriate treatments to begin before the season starts to get you ready to handle the allergen attack. Treatment might include over-the-counter or prescription medication or immunotherapy in the form of drops or injections.

Second, create a plan of attack for managing yourself and your environment during this time of year. Here are some suggestions from the ACAAI3, Healthline1 and WebMD4:

  • Monitor pollen and mold counts. When they’re high outdoors, stay inside.
  • Keep your windows and doors closed in your home and car during the height of allergy season.
  • After you’ve been working in the yard or doing an outdoor activity, take a shower, wash your hair and change your clothes to remove any pollen.
  • Before you turn on your heater for the first time, clean out the air vents and put in a new filter.
  • If you have pets, especially cats, try using an air filter to keep the air free of pet dander.
  • Wear a mask when you rake leaves or work around the damp areas in your home or yard.
  • Use a dehumidifier to keep the air in your house at about 35 percent to 50 percent humidity.

Listen to the advice of your doctor and follow your allergy action plan, and you can live through autumn allergy season without a sneezy, sniffly struggle!

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