Archive for August, 2012

Give your immune system a workout

Years ago, it was thought that by protecting ourselves and our children from allergens, we would prevent development of allergies and the irritating symptoms that accompany them.

However, some recent studies indicate that living in a “clean bubble” may actually be detrimental.

The thinking is allergies and asthma are more prevalent in our society –especially among children–because our immune systems are not exposed to bacteria, germs and allergens which our bodies need to practice fighting off.

Some scientists believe the use of hand sanitizers and excessive cleanliness contribute to the increase in asthma, allergies and autoimmune disorders in a theory called the “hygiene hypothesis.”

Recently the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology began recommending parents to bring pets into their homes so that the children are exposed to the dander in animal fur so that the kids’ immune systems develop and fortify. Children’s immune system develop throughout their grow span and continue to develop throughout their teens and in some cases early twenties.

pet allergies, immune system development, allergens, germs, bacteria

Some experts believe exposing children to pet dander at an early age helps build up immunities to prevent allergy development

Ed Neuzil, ARNP, PhD and owner of the Allergy, Sinus and Asthma Family Health Center in Lady Lake, Florida suggests comparing building the immune system to working out.

“If the exposure is too great and we aren’t ready, we get symptoms. It’s just like overdoing it during when we first start exercising,” said Neuzil. “However, by exposing ourselves to allergens, germs and other irritants a little at a time, we can build and strengthen our immune system so that when we experience a large exposure, our immune systems can better protect us.”

While many of cringe at the thought of letting our children get dirty or exposing them to a classroom of other sniffling, sneezing and coughing kids, there is a happy medium which experts say we should aim for: common sense.

It is important to keep our homes and surroundings hygienic but, except in situations of extreme risk, you don’t have to sanitize everything. Remember that our amazing bodies have immune systems that, after a good workout, will do the job of keeping us healthy.

41 Reasons to Sneeze

Sometimes it seems as though we never get a break. For many Americans, the summer has been just an extension of the spring allergy season. Plus, some parts of the country experienced heavy rain which can lead to production of mold spores; yet another sinus aggravator.

Fall is right around the corner and environmental experts are now saying that the Ragweed season will be especially intense, especially in the East.

Ragweeds are flowering plants in the sunflower family.  There are 41 species worldwide (15 in the U.S.) and they are big-time pollen producers.

ragweed, pollen, airborne irritants, fall allergy season,

These pretty flowers can produce one billion pollen particles every day.

It used to be that North America’s high mountain and desert areas had little or no ragweed growth and thus were refuges for hay fever sufferers. But guess what? Each ragweed plant can produce a billion pollen grains every day. That pollen becomes airborne and can travel hundreds of miles.

In fact, ragweed thrives on carbon dioxide so the issue of Global Warming plays a role in spreading this pollen source. Ragweed pollen is pretty much everywhere in the United States and moving to another region will likely not give you any relief.

So what can you do? According to Ed Neuzil, ARNP, PhD and owner of Allergy, Sinus and Asthma Family Health Center in Lady Lake Florida, you should do your best to avoid exposure:

  1.  Check pollen counts in your area.
  2. Try to stay indoors on windy days.
  3. If you do go outside, remove your clothing and launder it immediately after coming inside and take a shower. Be sure to rinse your nose, eyes and hair of pollen.
  4. An herbal-enhanced saline spray can help get rid of airborne irritants that you inhale while outside.

Still think you’re immune? According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of American, 75 percent of Americans are allergic to ragweed. By late summer, 10 to 20 percent of the population suffers from symptoms such as sneezing, stuffy, itchy and runny noses.

The good news is that the ragweed plant only lives one season and you can look for comfort and relief when the frost sets in and kills the plant.

 

Rocky Mountain High, Dry and Uncomfortable

 

mountains, sinusitis, saline rinse, saline spray, eucalyptol oil, high altitude, altitude sickness

Our family has just returned from a fabulous vacation to Colorado where we spent a few days in the Rocky Mountains.  The scenery was absolutely breathtaking and we certainly took advantage of all the area has to offer.

I’ve visited that region before but this vacation was noticeably better because I was better prepared on this trip.

Living in Florida year-round means that I’m especially susceptible to the symptoms that come with being at a high altitude.  It takes a day or so to acclimate to the seemingly lack of oxygen once you’re there. It was unnerving our first day there because it seemed as though I was always gasping for air.

The other condition that comes with the territory is the potential for sinus problems because of the high, dry environment. These include sinus pressure, congestion and bloody noses and are caused by the combination of elevation, colder weather and low humidity. Overall, your body loses water in the high elevations and you become easily dehydrated.

Knowing all of that, I packed appropriately on this trip and definitely noticed a difference:

1)      We packed reusable, plastic (BPA free) water bottles that we refilled every day and took with us wherever we went so we could always hydrate.

2)      I brought my bottle of herbal-enhanced nasal cleansing spray which rinsed out pollutants while moisturizing my nasal passages.  My spray has natural essential oils which help soothe my irritated sinus passages.  It’s not medicated so I didn’t have to worry about the side effects that come with using a decongestant and it’s easier and more convenient to use than a Neti Pot or sinus rinse

3)      Two or three times a day, after rinsing with the saline spray, I applied eucalyptol oil inside my nostrils. Our ENT had given us the bottle to try. That provided extra moisture for my nose.

I still experienced some sinus comfort, ironically, on the day we headed back to Denver (a lower elevation).  My nose was congested, itchy and bloody. I had to rinse and blow my nose a few times before feeling better. Again, the eucalyptol oil helped a lot to keep my nose moist for longer periods.

This trip was a good reminder to try to think ahead when traveling and do your research so you know what to pack. Being as prepared as we were helped ensure that we stayed healthy and could maximize enjoyment.

Achoo! There’s an App for that!

Some may turn up their nose at the thought of using a mobile application that helps you know the pollen forecast for your area.

But many people become almost debilitated by seasonal allergies, according to many #allergies posts on Twitter. The itchy eyes and nose make it difficult to breathe and Tweeters want everyone to know it.

 

seasonal allergies, allergens, airborne irritants, saline spray, pollen

It’s a good idea to check the pollen forecast before you go outside if you suffer from seasonal allergies.

Pollen.com created the Allergy Alert app last year. It’s a free download and provides index levels for four different conditions: Allergy (Pollen), Asthma, Cold and Cough, and Ultraviolet Sensitivity.

Once downloaded and started, the application can detect where you are and the pollen count.

ow Ford Motors has made it easier for its drivers to safely learn about the pollen forecast by syncing its voice-activated system in the cars so that drivers can speak simple commands to learn about potential airborne irritants.

With nearly 40 million Americans suffering form indoor/outdoor allergies, there is potential to help many people who become miserable by breathing in pollutants.

In fact, avoiding the irritants that make you uncomfortable is the best way to stay sniffle free. But that’s nearly impossible for many.

So having a way to be forewarned of potential allergens is really a good idea. So is keeping a bottle of saline spray with you so that you can rinse out the allergens and clear your sinuses.