Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Latex Allergies

Latex gloves and other latex rubber materials, contain natural latex. These gloves are often added with cornstarch powder to reduce friction, like when a surgeon dons the glove and many other chemicals. It is important to point out that anything that is foreign to the body can cause an allergic reaction depending on the gravity of the human body's response to it. The body can react in different ways. Normally, there would be little to no reaction at all. However when one is allergic to the latex, in a glove for example, there are three major possible reactions.

The least dangerous of these is a reaction that is contained locally, called Irritant Dermatitis. This is when the latex causes an irritation in the skin in contact to it but does not involve the systemic immune response of the body. This is not considered an allergic response, however, irritant hand dermatitis causes breaks in the skin integrity which could permit a lot more of the sensitizing latex proteins or chemicals to enter into the body. This could turn an uncomplicated dermatitis into a full blown latex allergy. Irritant Dermatitis could also be caused by inadequate drying after washing the hands, scrubbing the skin too hard or using very strong detergents, the mechanical abrasion sometimes caused by the glove powder, or anything that could dry the skin and encourage cracks and cuts in it.

The second reaction that the body could have is the Delayed Cutaneous Hypersensitivity or the Type IV Allergy. This reaction is still local, limited to the skin exposed to the allergen and mediated by the T-cell lymphocytes. The danger, again, is when the skin breaks and permits the entry of more of the allergen. The difference of this reaction is that the signs of the reaction are seen 6 to 48 hours after exposure.

The third possible reaction of the body is the Type I Allergy. It is a systemic allergic reaction and its symptoms occur almost immediately or half an hour after exposure to latex. The reaction is caused by the Immunoglobulin E antibodies that are specific to the proteins found in natural latex. A person can be exposed to latex through different routes like cutaneous, (skin), mucus membranes (nose, mouth), aerosol (inhalation), or parenteral (blood). The symptoms could range from a not-so-serious case of rhinitis or conjunctivitis to hives and asthma brought about by bronchoconstriction. It is when these symptoms are full-blown than they become fatal like cases of hypotension and anaphylaxis.

In the use of surgical gloves, it is not only the latex that is the issue. The use of cornstarch powder, which has been a staple in glove manufacturing to reduce friction, also plays a major role in the allergies caused by latex gloves. Research has shown that the cornstarch powder binds with the latex proteins in the gloves. This union allows the antigen in the gloves to reach the wearer's skin (especially when the skin becomes moist) and, ultimately, the patient the person is in contact with. Also, when the gloves are removed, the cornstarch powder is released into the air carrying with it the latex proteins. This is the major factor that causes most of the aerosolized latex allergies.

Food Allergies

Do you develop an unexplainable itchy rash after eating shellfish or certain varieties of fish? How about after eating eggs or after gulping down a warm glass of milk? Have you ever experienced that unusual tingling in your mouth after eating a particular food?

If you ever experienced these symptoms, you might be suffering from food allergy.

What is a food allergy?

A food allergy is the body's natural response upon eating certain foods, which his or her body labeled as potentially harmful. Some of the most common food allergens (that which bring about or initiate an allergic reaction) include milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat and soy.

Among the first signs of an allergic reaction are coughing and sneezing, a runny nose and red, itchy eyes. Some experience the sudden appearance of an itchy skin rash or hives and a tingling sensation in the mouth, lips and throat.

Other more serious signs of an allergic reaction include dizziness, abdominal pain and diarrhea, vomiting and wheezing. Some people may even experience sudden behavioral changes such as anger, depression and/or lethargy in response to the allergic reaction.

An allergic reaction can be manifested in different ways and in varying intensities in different people. Some allergies may show obvious symptoms while others may not. Some people may react immediately once exposed to the allergen while in other people, it may take several hours for the symptoms to be manifested.

A food allergy should not be taken lightly. Severe allergic reactions are known to result in swelling, shock and death.

How does a food allergy develop?

The human body is protected at all times by the immune system. It is the immune system's primary responsibility to be on a constant lookout for potentially harmful substances or organisms, which may jeopardize the health of an individual.

When a person accidentally ate something, which is harmful to the body, the immune system produces special proteins called IgE antibodies. This prompts the allergy cells (called mast cells) to release certain chemicals in the bloodstream to fortify the body's defenses. One of these chemicals is histamine. Upon its release, histamine acts on the person's eyes, nose, throat, lungs, skin and/or gastrointestinal tract, triggering the manifestation of the symptoms of the allergic reaction.

In the case of food allergies, the most common culprit is the abnormal permeability of the gastrointestinal tract. When this happens, inappropriately large food molecules may be transported into the bloodstream. Since they are abnormally sized, these food molecules might be seen as "intruders" and are therefore attacked by the antibodies.

A food allergy can develop at any age. Some may have it from birth while others develop it as they grow older or as the body is predisposed to the allergens.

How can food allergies be cured?

Probably the best way to treat food allergies is to avoid the eating anything which may trigger an allergic reaction for a period of time (preferably for 2 to 6 months). After this period, the foods can then be gradually reintroduced into your diet. For best results, the foods should be reintroduced on a rotating basis, which means that you consume them only every 4 days or more. This will allow you to eat foods you are allergic to without suffering from the usual symptoms.

There are still some other ways to fight food allergies. Others have tried administering traditional allergy shots, homeopathic treatments, herbal decoctions, high doses of vitamin C and several other treatments with varying degrees of success.

Remember that food allergies tend to run in the family. So, if ever one member of your family has a history of this condition, do take the necessary precautions.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Understanding Allergies

More than 20% of the adults and children in the United States are affected by allergies, bringing the total to millions being affected yearly. Depending on the source of the reaction, allergies can affect people at different seasons as well as different times of their lives.

Numerous sources can cause people to suffer with an allergic reaction. Some of the common sources of allergies include: pollen, mold, dust mites, and food. If you suspect that you may have an allergy, your doctor may be able to find out exactly what you are allergic to and the best treatment for you.

Since allergies can be inherited, you may suffer from them if either parent has had them. But, just because your mother's allergy is dust, does not mean that your allergy will also be dust. The allergy you receive may take a different form, you may be allergic to mold.

The genetic link is whether you develop an allergy or not, due to your parent's history. Having a reaction to a certain substance may indeed just be because your immune system is weak. People may have a weak immune system due to infection or pregnancy.

What is an allergy?

If your body's immune system is reacting unusually to a foreign substance, you may be experiencing an allergy. Coming in contact with mold or pollen will trigger the immune system and it will behave as though these substances are harmful. Results from this contact may include: watery eyes, hives, itching, and trouble breathing.

During more intense reactions, you may feel itching which changes to swelling, pain, and vomiting. This is called anaphylaxis and immediate medical assistance is required. Your doctor can treat most allergies with the usage of antihistamines, nasal sprays, and decongestants.

Lifestyle changes also help reduce your exposure to allergens. Removing pets from the home and keeping your home free of dust, may allow your allergy problem to subside.

If all these methods fail, you may have to take shots or seek your doctor's advice on a method that may be just right for you.

Central Air Conditioning

More and more people are insisting that they have central air conditioning in their homes and businesses. If you own a business, you are going to find that this is a must. I can’t think of anyone who would choose a business that is sweltering hot over one with central air. Though you can use single units in your home, they don’t work the same as central air, and it is just not the same thing. I know when I own my first home, if it does not have this, I will insist that it be put in.

The difference between central air conditioning and single units is like night and day to me. I have a single unit in my home right now, and I hate that I have to have an area closed off in order for the unit to cool, and I hate the stale air it seems to produce. I am grateful that I have it, but I would greatly prefer to have central air conditioning. I rent, so it’s not up to me, and I don’t see my landlord jumping to have it installed. That’s okay though, that just helps motivate us to save even more for our own home.

As a business, you might be surprised that central air conditioning can up your customer base. There are many days when the heat is just too much, and anyone outside might be looking for relief. When they come in, if they feel instantly refreshed, they are going to want to stay a while. Though not all of them will buy, many of them will. This means new eyes looking at your merchandise, and also that you may have just racked up another returning customer. It’s a great investment. As a bonus, it keeps your employees happy as well.

Though not everyone can afford central air conditioning, this is something that many new homes are having installed, even when it adds to the total costs. There are many medical conditions that are aggravated by heat and humidity, and many need this for medical relief. Those with allergies and asthma will tell you that they suffer the most in the summer, and having a cool place that is away from the humidity helps greatly. There are also many who are prone to sun stroke, and having a cool home is an essential. Life is much more enjoyable when you know you can keep cool.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Lice remedies

I have worked with child services for many years. Through the years one of the problems that seems to occur time and time again is head lice. As the years go by we have learned many great lessons on how to best treat lice so that they do not reoccur. It seems that lice remedies come and go and we are learning that lice do become immune to the different treatments, especially if the treatments involve chemicals.

Recently we had a very critical situation occur with head lice in a foster home. The foster family has done care for our agency for many years. The family is licensed for 5 children. They have had a sibling group of three placed with them for nine months. These three children came from very neglectful conditions and were also abused by their mother and her boy friends. After the nine months in the loving structured home of the foster family the children were beginning to laugh and play and behave in healthier ways. The foster family was on call for emergency placements and they were needed to take in a brother and sister whose mother was arrested. There were no other family members available so the children needed to be placed in foster care. They had been found in filthy conditions in a home where drugs were being manufactured. The police brought the children to the foster home at 2:00 in the morning. The foster parents provided clean pajamas for the children and had them sleep in the living room area on the couches until they could rearrange space with the other children. It turned out that the children had extreme cases of head lice. The foster parents did not discover this until the next day when they were helping the children with bathes. By this time the other group of foster children had sat on the couches to watch television and to visit with the new arrivals. The lice quickly spread to everyone in the household. The foster mom called me in a panic because she knew that the shampoo used in most lice remedies would cause the three children to break out because they have severe allergies. She was also concerned about using the lice remedies for the bedding and couches. It was winter time and extremely cold outside. I told them to place the clothing, bedding, couches and pillows outdoors. I then took over the supplies for the latest lice remedies from the public health nurse. This included soaking the children’s hair in olive oil and placing a plastic bag over the hair for several hours. The olive oil smothers the lice. This procedure as with all lice remedies had to be repeated at intervals to kill the eggs that the lice lay in the hair follicles.

After several bottles of olive oil and multiple applications the foster family was finally rid of the lice. They did like this treatment over other lice remedies that they have had to use in the past because they were not placing harsh chemicals on the children.

Nasal spray addiction

I can hardly believe the world we live in today. There are just so many problems, addictions, crime, and heartache. When does it ever end? Actually most of this stuff has been around forever. Oh, except for some of the odd addictions. As I'm sure you're aware, there are many more drugs on the streets these days. You can acquire a fix from heroine, to crystal meth, to crack, to weed, to cocaine, to PCP, to over-the-counter products. Yep, that's right; stuff from the drug store down the street is even a problem. Apparently a number of individuals are afflicted by a nasal spray addiction. Hey, you're laughing, aren't you? Well that's okay. I think I busted out laughing the first time I heard this as well. What is the world coming to?

A lot of people have suffered from random and peculiar addictions. I can't say that I'm one of them. Oh, unless coffee counts. I typically drink around two cups a day. That may be a bit too much. But, let's talk about the pandemic with the nasal spray addiction. I can still recall back in high school when kids were chugging cough syrup to get drunk. I guess this craze is gone and done with. On to the more contemporary nasal spray addiction. I watched a stand-up performance by Dennis Leary, and he said "whip-its" were the rage when he was a teen. Apparently kids would purchase oodles of whip cream in cans, and then proceed to suck the gas out of them. Is this stupid or what? Then again, it's no lamer than downing cough syrup for a buzz or acquiring a nasal spray addiction. They all sound pretty lame to me. The question is; how do people end up here? Do they start a common nasal spray for allergies and then it develops into something bad? My mother always told me this happened to many of her patients who took sleeping pills. They actually got to the point where they could not go to sleep without them. Yikes, would that ever be a bummer!

The whole addiction craze has to end if you ask me. Everyone, stop being addicted to things! They just keep becoming more and more absurd. I think you would have gotten beat up back in the 50s if you said you had a nasal spray addiction. It's just weird and annoying. What's next? An addiction to deodorant spray?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Allergy mattress cover

Anyone who finds sleeping to be difficult because of allergens in the air and bedding would benefit from investing in an allergy mattress cover. This item fits right over your mattress and it forms a barrier between you and the allergens in the bed. The allergy mattress cover is basically an encasing that covers the bed.

Different people have different types of allergies. Dust mites are commonly the most irritating for sensitive individuals. The really gross reality of the dust mite problem is that the problem isn’t necessarily with the tiny insect itself. People are sensitive to the feces the little critter leaves behind.

Finding an allergy mattress cover designed to deter the dust mites from staking claim to your bed is of utmost importance if you want to avoid waking with a stuffy nose. If you find the right mite-proof allergy mattress cover you can rest easy knowing that you are protected.

Many of the older versions of the bed toppers were noisy and uncomfortable. I personally would rather sleep on a comfortable surface and share it with a few little mites than lie awake on an allergy mattress cover that keeps me awake. I prefer sleep even if it is on a bed that is full of allergens.

Today’s allergy mattress cover is a new animal. These items are carefully weaved to create a comfortable surface that will withstand washing after washing. You will sleep allergy-free and comfortably each and every night.

Many people who don’t suffer from allergies use an allergy mattress cover just to avoid the dust mites. I’m not thrilled about the idea of little bugs doing their business on my bed. The concept doesn’t make for a great night’s sleep.

Even though I don’t have sensitivities to allergens I do use an allergy mattress cover for my bed. I find that I get a better night’s sleep knowing that the bed is bug free. Some people don’t know why I would spend the extra money but that is only because they don’t realize how inexpensive the allergy mattress covers really are.

For about the same price as a 400 thread count sheet set you can invest in a good quality allergy mattress cover that will stand the test of time. With the reasonable prices and excellent products available you can rest easy knowing that your bed is allergen free, whether you suffer from allergies or not.

Allergy remedies

If you don't have seasonal allergies, you probably know someone who does. Allergies typically show up in spring and fall. It's hard to get out and appreciate fields of spring flowers or blazing colors in the fall. Burning, itchy, red eyes and tightly stuffed or irritatingly runny noses are de rigeur. Water accumulates in the head, especially around the ears. Cuddly pets become not so cuddly. Headaches only add to the discomfort.

You may well wonder if there are any allergy remedies that allow you to enjoy the seasons without suffering the symptoms. Over the counter medications offer temporary relief, but many carry side effects such as drowsiness, that you can't afford in your daily life. Here are a few natural allergy remedies that deserve a try.

You first need to understand the dynamics of allergies. The offending pollen, pet dander or mold has a nasty habit of zeroing in on the mucous membranes. One grain of any of these offenders may become attached to your soft mucous membranes, in the nasal passages, triggering your immune system to produce histamines in response. These histamines cause your body to respond to the invasion, producing reactions that cause your body to flush these unwanted invaders. The results of this flushing action are the symptoms of allergies, which are the cause of your suffering!

Conventional over the counter antihistamines destroy the body's natural efforts to rid your body of the offenders, while subduing the symptoms which caused you to seek medication in the first place. Aren't there any natural allergy remedies that allow your body to do the job without the annoying symptoms?

As a matter of fact, there are. Natural allergy remedies aim to prevent symptoms before they occur. Here is just a short list of allergy remedies that are worthy of consideration.

Dietary input figures prominently in the impact of your symptoms. Studies have shown that foods rich in the Omega-3 fatty acids tend to suppress allergic reactions. Cold water fish, flaxseed, naturally raised meats and eggs, as well as walnuts are rich in this nutrient. Include these foods in your diet for a positive effect.

Among the natural allergy remedies, try hot dijon mustard, horseradish or hot chili peppers as a nasal decongestant. You'll experience immediate relief.

In Indian culture, the Neti pot is the vehicle of choice. A Neti pot is a small vase of salt water which is used like a nasal spray, deactivating the offending intruder, both preventing attacks and relieving nasal congestion.

Other natural allergy remedies abound in the world of herbs. Butterbur, a common weed in Europe, provides an alternative to OTC antihistamines. Papaya enjoys a special synergism with proteins, pertinent to relief of allergy symptoms. Eyebright relieves nasal congestion, thick mucous and coughs. Hay fever and nasal congestion may be relieved with skunk cabbage root.

For a truly off the wall treatment, try Cubeb, the unripe berry of this native pepper of Sumatra. When crushed and rolled into an herbal “cigarette”, hay fever symptoms subside.