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Doctors give advice on treatment for cold, flu, allergies

 

It's October and leaves are starting to turn, there's a nip to the air some mornings and, all of a sudden, a scratchy feeling in your throat. And then there's the sneezing, the coughing or maybe a minor headache. Are you getting sick with a cold — or even the flu — or is it just allergies?

Fall allergy season, and cold and flu season overlap in early autumn, a triple threat to your sinus passages, but proper prevention and treatment will vary depending on what is causing that congestion. Fortunately, there are some guidelines for determining just what you're dealing with: The Times caught up with Dr. Hava Ladinsky, an allergy/immunologist with the Maryland Asthma and Allergy Center in Westminster, and Dr. Wendy Miller, a primary care physician with the Carroll Health Group in Eldersburg, to discuss the fall allergy/cold/flu season and what people need to know to keep themselves healthy.


Q: There's often a lot of focus on allergies in the spring and early summer when there is a lot of plant pollen in the air. What causes fall allergies? What's the normal duration of the fall allergy season? The fall allergy season typically runs from August to mid-October/November and peaks mid-September. Ragweed pollen is one of the top triggers for fall allergy symptoms. Other weed pollens also bloom this time of year. Another big trigger is mold, which grows well among rotting leaves. Raking leaves and mowing the lawn can both increase mold and pollen in the air. Some children will note increased allergy symptoms when they return to school due to dust mite allergies.

Q: What about symptoms? Is there anything unique about fall allergies or do they present for most people just like spring allergies? Like spring allergies, fall allergies may present with sneezing, stuffy or runny nose, and post-nasal drip. Some people also complain of itchy, red, watery, and swollen eyes. Worsening nasal symptoms may lead to coughing and trigger asthma symptoms. In some patients, ragweed allergies may also trigger oral allergy syndrome (OAS), where the body's immune system becomes confused and triggers an allergic response. The proteins in some fruits and vegetables are similar to the proteins in certain pollens. When a person ingests raw fruit or vegetables, OAS may lead to an itchy mouth and throat or swollen lips, tongue, or throat. Very rarely does OAS lead to severe, life-threatening allergic reactions. People with ragweed allergy may be symptomatic when they eat melons, banana, cucumber, and zucchini. Cooking the fruit or vegetable often reduces or alleviates OAS symptoms. Birch trees are another important trigger of OAS, however, they bloom in the spring and are associated with different fruits and vegetables.

Q: Is there any connection between whether or not you suffer from allergies in the spring and dealing with fall allergies. Not everyone suffers from both spring and fall allergies. However, it is not unusual for patients who suffer from spring allergies to also suffer from fall allergies. Allergies, including seasonal and food allergies, may occur at any age. Adult onset allergies typically begin in a person's 20s or 30s but may develop even later. It is not clear what causes a person to react to allergens in their environment they had previously tolerated. However, family history plays an important role in allergies. A change in environmental exposures may trigger a person's predisposition to allergies and allergic reactions. Or a person may be exposed to a large enough quantity of allergen that they reach a threshold that triggers a reaction.

Q: What are the recommended treatments for fall allergies? Is there a spectrum of care based on how severe a person's allergies are? In addition to medical management of fall allergies, patients may also introduce environmental precautions to reduce allergy symptoms. This includes keeping the windows closed and running the air conditioning. It is also important to regularly change or clean the filters. Staying inside from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., when pollen counts are highest, may reduce symptoms. Consider changing clothes and showering after spending time outside. Some patients benefit from wearing filter masks when mowing the lawn and raking leaves.

Q: Cold and flu season is also almost upon us. Are there any rules of thumb you could pass on for determining whether or not symptoms are a cold or just allergies? Is that even an important distinction to make? This distinction is important, as the treatment is different for allergies and viral illnesses. Fall allergy symptoms typically occur all at once with clear, thin, watery nasal discharge and no fever. Symptoms continue as long as the person is exposed to the allergen. A cold begins one to three days after exposure to a virus and symptoms typically occur sequentially. Viral illness symptoms include watery or thick, yellow mucus drainage, body aches, and low grade fevers. Symptoms typically last seven to 10 days.

Dr. Miller: Cold and Flu Q: What is cold and flu season? An annually recurring time period when we see outbreaks of the cold and flu. The season is typically during the cold half of the year, in this area, beginning in October.

Q: What's the difference between the cold and the flu? They are both viral infections right? Yes, the common cold and flu are caused by a virus that is spread by airborne droplets or contact. Flu is caused by the influenza virus and the common cold is caused by one of many viruses, most likely the rhinovirus.

Q: Sometimes people are not sure if the beginnings of cold-like symptoms are a cold or just allergies. What about the common cold and the flu — how do you distinguish one from the other? Unfortunately both can cause coughing, sore throat, runny nose, sneezing, body aches and a fever lasting seven to 15 days. The only way to be sure is to get a flu test.

Q: What about treatments? We all know there is no cure for the common cold, but there are all kinds of supplements and fizzy drinks and folk cures that claim to boost your immune system and shorten the length of a cold. Do any of these, such as extra vitamin C or Zinc, actually help? Is boosting your immune response even something you want to do when it comes to cold? True, there is no cure for the cold. Treatments are aimed at relieving the symptoms. Boosting your immune system is only helpful if you have a weakened immune system to begin with.

Q: What about the flu? It's a more serious infection. What should people do to avoid it, and what happens if they fail to avoid it? How can they mitigate the severity and length of their illness? Flu can be a more serious infection. Often with high fever and sudden onset of extreme fatigue. Flu can lead to pneumonia and even death. An annual flu shot is indicated above age 6 months. Hand washing is the best protection, avoid contact with people that have symptoms and get tested for the flu if you develop symptoms. Those that test positive can be treated with antiviral medication. This medication needs to be started within 48 to 72 hours of onset of symptoms.

Q: Some people get their flu shot religiously, others swear it's not worth it. Can you address some of the myths about the flu shot and give a clear case as to who should get it, when and why? Each year the flu virus changes and the flu shot is redesigned each year. The shot contains inactivated virus antigens, not the live virus itself, and it cannot give you the flu. Very few people have mild side effects from the shot. The risk of getting the flu outweighs the risk of side effects from the vaccine. This is especially true for the elderly —over 65 years old — and those with other chronic illness. Getting the flu shot in early October is the best protection.


*Read the original article on at CarrolCountyTimes.com.

Cozy Into Fall With Pumpkin Spice Granola

It’s time. It’s time for pumpkin, scarves, boots, not sweating when you get in your car, and the best holidays. Before we jump into an ode-to-fall, let us set your mind at ease with a fantastic recipe for paleo pumpkin spice granola via our friend Cassy from Fed & Fit! They’re chewy, perfectly seasoned, not overly pumpkin-ed goodness. Great for lunches, hiking, sharing with colleagues, or for eating the entire batch standing up in your kitchen before you even get a chance to wrap one up.

Granola is an extremely popular breakfast and snack food with a wealth of health benefits, including its ability to lower cholesterol, regulate digestion, aid in weight loss attempts, improve your heart health, increase energy, prevent anemia and promote proper organ function. Intake of granola also helps to lower blood pressure, increase cognitive activity, improve skin quality, build stronger bones, manage diabetes, stimulate new tissue and hormonal growth, and even prevent cancer.

As a digestive aid, granola is almost unmatched. It is commonly consumed by people who want a boost in their fiber content, because granola contains both soluble and insoluble fiber. Dietary fiber is a beneficial part of anyone’s eating habits because it regulates digestion of food. It adds bulk and weight to bowel movements, making them more solid and easier to pass along the digestive tract. It also stimulates peristaltic motion, which is when the smooth muscles in the intestinal system contract, thereby moving food further along, while also causing the release of gastric and digestive juices, relieving stress on the entire system. Soluble fiber is good for alleviating symptoms of constipation, which can lead to a bevy of health issues, including colorectal cancer, indigestion, heartburn, and excess flatulence. The insoluble fiber can harden up loose stools and reduce the occurrence of diarrhea. Furthermore, fiber can improve heart health by literally scraping the arteries clean of dangerous LDL cholesterol or omega-6 fatty acids that can lead to heart conditions like atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes. Need we say more? Try this recipe below!



Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup pumpkin puree {canned works great}
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1 ½ cups unsweetened shredded coconut
  • ½ cup whole brown flax seeds
  • 1 cup golden berries, roughly chopped

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 300 F and line a 9 x 13 inch metal cake pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a small saucepan, whisk together and bring to a slight boil the honey, coconut oil, and vanilla. Remove from heat. Whisk in the pumpkin, ginger, cloves, and cinnamon.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, stir the pumpkin seeds, shredded coconut, flax seeds, and chopped golden berries together.
  4. Pour the liquid honey mixture over the dry ingredients and stir together. Pour the mixture into the parchment paper-lined metal pan and press down until you have an even thickness.
  5. Bake at 300 F for 25 minutes. Remove from oven, let it cool completely on the counter, and then transfer to the refrigerator for one hour or overnight before moving onto the next step.
  6. To make bars, cut into the bar or square shape you like and store in the refrigerator.
3 Engaging Autumn Activities To Enjoy with Your Family

 

During fall, there are countless activities competing for time. Whether it’s a soccer tournament, the re-birth of homework, yard work or a Friday night football game, we are often pulled in many directions. But what about slowing down and exploring the outdoors? Drop the mobile devices, put down the textbook and experience something new this year.

    Enjoy a fall visit to an apple orchard. Autumn is a great time to visit your local farm. Peak harvest season is in full swing and there are many opportunities to learn about agriculture. Use your local orchard as a chance to explore the many varieties of apples. Take an afternoon and explore the trees from the ground up. Once you get back home, the fun doesn’t have to end. Structure a fun “taste test” activity and discuss the uses for each variety. Let your kids research the different apples you brought home and set-up the challenge to name each one by favor or look. Beyond learning about the uses for apples, your youngsters will take an active interest in your next grocery trip.

      Visit your local composting facility or recycle your fallen leaves and build your very own compost pile. Compost is often referred to as the “gardener’s gold.” Created from collected natural and decomposable materials from the lawn, composting is an excellent way to witness the wonders of the natural world. We spend hours raking and bagging fallen leaves into brown bags for pick-up at the end of the curb, but what happens to those brown bags full of leaves? There are local facilities that process and compost for the well-being of our landfills and earth.Whether you are visiting a farm or enjoying an evening watching the trees lose their leaves, consider using these recreational activities as a chance to learn about the natural world.

        Find your local pumpkin patch to pick your very own jack o’ lantern. There are few traditions as popular as carving a pumpkin, but too often we lose our favorite creation to decomposition on the front porch. This year, instead of picking up your melon from a cardboard bin at the grocery store, try visiting a farm with a pumpkin patch. Do you know how many seeds are inside a pumpkin? Use your trip to the patch as a fun opportunity to explore math. How many pumpkins grow on each plant? How many plants are in one row? Story problems come alive when given a real-life context.


          What are the five most common fall allergies in children?

          Fall has arrived with a violent sneeze. Fall allergies are more common than you might think. Children are in a new school environment, which gives them more to sneeze at. Plus, there are new pollen, stirred up dust mites and accumulated molds that come with the season. Allergies bloom in kids just when you think they're safe. Here are the five most common fall allergies to watch for in your children.

          1. Ragweed. Ragweed is easily the biggest culprit when it comes to fall allergies in children and adults alike. Ragweed pollinates in August and continues for well over a month. The pollen from ragweed can travel long distances, so even if none is nearby, your children can be at risk. If your child suffers from fall allergies, ragweed is the number one suspect.
          2. Mold. Mold can accumulate under piles of wet leaves or in damp areas of the home. Children with allergies spend more time indoors during the fall season. That makes them highly susceptible to mold and other indoor allergens. Tumbling in that pile of leaves as part of autumn outdoor fun could bring on an allergic reaction as well.
          3. Dust Mites. The dust bunnies are back and they're creating havoc with your child's allergies. After spring cleaning, the dust bunnies settle down. Accumulation through the summer months bring them back in the fall. Running the forced air furnace can do it too. Whether your child is at school, or at home, spending more time among the dust bunnies could have dust mite allergies kicking in.
          4. Food Allergies. Back to school means back to school lunches. Children with allergies may forget about those foods they're supposed to avoid when in school. Some kids will even eat foods they know cause a reaction just to fit in with friends. Some may do it absentmindedly too. Be sure to make the lunch staff aware of your child's food allergies.
          5. Trees. There are certain trees that pollinate in the fall. One of these is a type of sumac tree. You will see big bunches of pollen literally dripping from it's branches in the autumn months. When that pollen drops and spreads itself around, be sure to have plenty of children's allergy medicine in stock.

          In a small initial study conducted by PhD researchers and doctors of Finland's University of Turku, child and pet comingling increases the likelihood of animal gut bacteria transfer, which will then help increase the immunity of the child against different types of allergens, including pet dander. Pet dander is considered as one of the most common triggers of allergy diseases. It contains a protein from the dried saliva of dogs and cats that causes the immune system to overreact that can result to the appearance of allergy symptoms.

          For the study, Dr. Merja Nermes, one of the authors, and her colleagues wanted to determine the extent of the effects of pet exposure to a child's immune system using an ongoing probiotic study participated by pregnant women who have allergy history. Allergies are assumed to have a genetic predisposition. Children who are born to parents who have allergies are at least 50% likely to develop the condition as well.

          Among the pool of participants, they selected 51 women with infants and pets and 64 who have babies but no pets to serve as the control group.

          The babies in both groups underwent two types of tests at different times. When they were one month, their DNA was tested for presence of the animal gut bacteria, specifically B. pseudolongnum and B thermophium, using the fecal sample from diapers. When analyzed, 33% of the first group had tested positive of the bacteria while around 14% of the control group had them, although it's unclear how they had obtained the bacteria.

          When they turned half year, the researchers conducted a skin prick test to find out which allergies the babies are prone to. More than 15 of the babies had allergic reactions, but for those with B. thermophilum, they didn't have any.

          Although the study doesn't say if the protection extends until way later in life, it's clear that parents should not stop themselves having pets at home while the child is still a baby.

          In an another earlier study, farm dust can help control or prevent allergy symptoms and asthma as the protein present in it can make the mucus in the lungs to become less sensitive to allergens.  

          How do fall allergies cause health problems?

           

          How can fall allergies cause health problems? Although allergies can present themselves as itchy eyes, runny nose and constant sneezing, allergies can also display as other health problems that, if you’re not paying close attention, could be misdiagnosed. Here are some other health problems which allergies have been linked to.

          Chronic fatigue syndrome: Unexplained fatigue over the course of six months could be chronic fatigue syndrome. Although an exact cause is unknown for chronic fatigue syndrome, studies have shown nearly all of those who have the condition also have allergies. In this scenario, uncovering and treating the allergies can help alleviate the fatigue you feel daily.

          Depression: Sure, allergies can have us feeling down, but in a three-year study symptoms associated with depression were worsened when allergies flared up. Another report revealed that individuals who received shots to treat their allergies were two to three times more likely to be diagnosed with major depression.

          Sinus and migraine headaches: This health problem is more widely understood when our allergies flare up: we are congested, stressed and overall more tense. Allergens themselves can trigger sinus and migraine headaches. When an allergen is inhaled it can cause swelling or obstructions, making the sinuses unable to drain. This built-up pressure can result in headaches.

          Symptoms caused by these allergens can also look a lot like the common cold. "A lot of times they're similar, but the hallmark symptoms of allergies are itching eyes, watery nose, sneezing, a cough, they can even affect your skin and allergies can make you feel run down," Pharmacist Lori Eldred explains.

          Not all allergies are the same, thus bringing us to the comparison between fall and spring allergies. Some individuals only have one seasonal allergy, while others may experience allergies in more than one season. It’s important to understand that fluctuations in the environment during seasonal changes can cause difference reactions. People may experience symptoms differently depending on the severity of the flare up. If you start to notice you’re sneezing more and your eyes are starting to itch, but you’re not sure what is setting it off, here is a list of the most common fall allergens to pay attention to: Ragweed, other weeds – sagebrush, curly dock, goldenrod, and mold. If you don’t want your fall allergies to ruin fall for you, there are ways you can prevent them from taking over and making you miserable. Try some of these natural tips:

          • Avoid stepping outdoors when allergens are at their worst – check local news stations for pollen counts and wind speeds which can carry around allergens.
          • If you spend time outdoors, shower as soon as you come inside to remove pollen.
          • Keep your windows closed, and use either the air conditioner or a humidifier.
          • Dry your clothes indoors as opposed to outdoors.
          • Remove decaying leaves from the yard.
          • Wear gloves and a mask when raking up leaves.
          • Ensure air filters in your home are cleaned.
          • Manage your stress – studies have shown those who are stressed endure worsened allergy symptoms.
          • Consume honey to boost your immune system.
          • Eat onions for their antioxidant power.
          • Take probiotics as a means to boost your immune system.

          *To read the original article, visit belmarrahealth.com.

          Targeting Pressure Points For Allergy Relief

           

          It's fall ragweed season and if that stuffy nose and sinus pain are making you miserable, you might find relief in ancient Chinese medicine. Jamie Starkey is an acupuncturist at Cleveland Clinic. She said stimulating different points on the body with tiny needles, or your even fingertips, may provide some quick relief.

          Seasonal snifflers who got needled by an acupuncturist 12 times over the course of 8 weeks showed more improvement in their symptoms and used medication less frequently than people who didn’t get acupuncture or got a sham treatment, according to one clinical trial published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine. Traditional Chinese medicine teaches that acupuncture treatments can help bring the body into balance. Preliminary Western research, meanwhile, suggests that these strategically placed needles may help control inflammation by reining in various chemicals that contribute to an allergic reaction.

          "Clinical studies in the acupuncture field are showing that stimulating these various acupuncture points help to promote an antihistamine effect," explained Starkey. Acupuncture is a practice where hair-thin needles are inserted into "acu-points" on the body to treat or prevent illness. Starkey uses acupuncture to treat allergy symptoms like a stuffy nose, sinus headaches and sinus pressure. As part of a treatment plan, she also teaches "acu-pressure," an off-shoot of acupuncture where you use your fingers, or another small object, to apply pressure instead of needles. She said acu-pressure is easy to learn and you can do it anywhere.

          For allergy relief, there are two places on your face where you apply gentle, firm pressure. The first spot is at the base of your nose and you use your index fingers to press and hold to relieve sinus pressure. The second spot involves pressing at the top of each inner eyebrow to help relieve pressure in your forehead. Gently press and hold each spot for about three minutes. Starkey said many people feel instant relief.

          "You'll feel your nose opening up if you have some nasal congestion. You'll feel the pressure relief in your head, oftentimes headaches will go away so sometimes patients will often feel immediate relief," Starkey explained. Starkey said most people don't experience any side effects from acupressure and it's generally considered very safe, however there are certain points that pregnant women should avoid. Expecting mothers should consult with a professional before applying treatment themselves.

          Pollen Report: Wet and warm weather spurs fall allergies

          August ushers into the Northeast its share of sneezes, wheezes and itchy eyes. Informal polls suggest things are worse this year. Empirical confirmation was provided last week by Dr. Edward Kent of South Burlington-based Timberlane Allergy and Asthma Research. In direct proportion to much of our suffering, Kent said, ragweed has flourished: Billions of its tiny pollen grains took to the wind two weeks ago — about a week earlier than usual. That premature abundance has "primed" the allergic response of vulnerable folk, making them increasingly sensitive to subsequent exposure, he said.


          Moderate pollen levels, then, have boosted the indices of discomfort. Kent monitors airborne irritants and treats patients whose immune and respiratory systems rage into misguided overdrive at the slightest whiff of pollen, mold spores, dust mites, pet dander and the like. His lab's mold-spore and pollen counts routinely inform local weather reports and forecasts. Because the chief suspects are microscopic, Kent suggested a look at them through a microscope.

          Lynne Moon, the clinical research supervisor at Timber Lane Allergy, introduced visitors to her latest batch of aerialists, captured and immobilized on needle-thin, silicone greased plastic rods. A mold spore (Alternaria) resembled a snowshoe track in pink-dyed snow. A cluster of six, globe-like plantain pollen grains decked the microscope slide like baby fruit. A snowshoe-shaped fungus spore (Alternaria) is visible under a microscope at Timberlane Allergy and Asthma Research in South Burlington. The common, airborne spore is among many that can trigger allergic reactions.

          Ragweed pollen, too, proved beautiful: pitted, spiky balls — like an asteroid-slammed planet. Moon's counting procedure takes hours. At the end of a thrice-weekly session, she first translates her census into particles-per-square-meter of air; then into a nationally recognized, reader-friendly pollen index.

          Rain tends to dampen airborne pollen counts, she said, but can nourish subsequent spikes in flowering. High pollen counts earlier this year — first from trees and then from early to midsummer grasses — seem to have cascaded into fall weeds' final, reproductive hurrah before frost.

          Local trees' "flowering pulse" this year almost certainly stemmed from the stresses of 2012's hot, dry summer, and not the current year's weather, University of Vermont professor of plant biology David Barrington wrote in an email to the Burlington Free Press. The profusion of grass pollen has a more recent genesis, theorizes UVM Extension professor Sid Bosworth, whose fields of expertise include pasture, forage and weed management.

          Weather conditions prevented timely mowing, he added. "With all the rain in June, we had a lot more land that was cut late this year; therefore, much more heading (flowering) and likely more pollen production," Bosworth wrote in response to an email query. "The rain may have also delayed mowing road sides as well allowing more plants to flower than normal."

          This year's early bumper crops of pollen have multiplied the misery for humans unprepared (or untreated) for ragweed's August appearance, said Kent of Timberlane Allergy. "Those people are now more likely to be more reactive" to the region's collective and cumulative cocktail of allergens, he said.

          Kent suggested we all might brace for earlier and extended sneeze seasons, given a warming climate. Fallout from that trend was documented in a study published in January 2011 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which found that allergy seasons in the northern U.S. and Canada had grown by two to four weeks from 1995 to 2009. Ann Hazelrigg, a plant pathologist at UVM, has first-hand evidence. "This is the first year, ever, that I've had fall allergies," Hazelrigg said. "It's been awful."


          *Read the original article on www.burlingtonfreeexpress.com.

          Pack The Ultimate Carry On Hand Luggage

          Packing for any international trip can be a daunting task, especially if you're not well-traveled. Before getting on the plane, you have to decide what should be checked in and what’s needed for a comfortable flight. First up, always pack the night before if you're leaving in the morning to avoid throwing everything in in a rush. Before you even open your wardrobe, stop, sit down and re-visit your itinerary so you can plan to pack only what you really need. Keep in mind your destination and it’s climate and look up the weather forecast so you can pack appropriately.

          1. Travel documents. Needless to say, it is absolutely important to put your travel documents such as boarding pass, passport, visa (if needed) and other supporting documents in your carry-on bag so you can whip them out when the need arises.
          2. Money, money, money. It’s a must to exchange to the local currency at the airport, in case you have to pay for something at the start of your trip.
          3. Handphone, laptop and chargers. If you’re bringing a laptop, do keep it in your carry-on. In the case where your luggage decides to take a detour without you, you still have some connection to the world. Also, your electronics can possibly be your in-flight entertainments!
          4. Toiletries. Toiletries are usually heavy and cumbersome, so pack smartly when it comes to these vital items. Purchase some travel-sized toiletries (most mainstream brands offer minis these days) or decant your favorite essential liquids into smaller containers, which are readily available to buy from most pharmacies. Don't forget to pack Rootology: Breathe Free to prevent an in-flight runny nose or sniffles.
          5. Set of clothes. In the event that your check-in luggage goes missing, you should also bring undergarments and a set of t-shirt and pants. Take it as insurance!
          6. First-aid kit. Bring a handy dandy first-aid kit with some medicine (more specifically, travel sickness tablets) for that unpredictable and extremely unnecessary headache, nausea, queasiness, tummy pains, flu and injuries!
          Try a home remedy for fall allergy season

          Spring isn't the only bad season for allergies. For some people, the fall season is just as bad. "Fall is always is always a fun time of year for those of us that suffer from allergies,” said Drug Emporium pharmacist David Davis. “So I think this year probably won't be much different.” Davis says the two major culprits for this fall allergy season are mold and ragweed. "Even though it's not an illness, it can make you feel pretty bad,” said allergy specialist Dr. Paul Sharkey. Doctors like Sharkey says there are some things in your pantry that could help you fight for relief.

          Dr. Sharkey says pineapples are high in bromelain, which has a natural antihistamine effect. Foods like cinnamon, ginger, strawberries, blueberries and tomatoes can have anti-flamatory effects. For supplement users, vitamin C, vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids are your best choices. "We don't have really good well designed studies to say that eating this food really does this benefit,” said Dr. Sharkey. “But we know that those products are in the food and that they can be helpful." Sharkey says even though local honey is a popular home remedy, he thinks it's questionable.

          "The problem is when you get into a branded medicine, you know exactly what you're getting,” explained Dr. Sharkey. “When you get bee pollen produced locally, each batch will have different pollen in it. You could get different amounts in it. Depending what someone's allergic to, that could be good or bad." One thing doctors say is certain - everyone should be prepared for a roller coaster of an allergy season.

          CBC Radio's house doctor Peter Lin spoke to The Early Edition about the effectiveness of some of the natural treatments advertised to help stop the sneezing and sniffling.

          1. Saltwater and a neti pot. If you Google anything about allergies, plenty of results will say, "Put saltwater in a neti pot and pour it up your nose." A neti pot is like a teapot, and you pour this stuff into your nostril and basically wash out your sinuses. Remember though, it's not just anything you can put up there. Your body runs on 0.9 per cent salt solution. In other words, if you put tap water or seawater (in there), it will burn it. It also has to be bacteria-free, so be sure to either use distilled water or use water that has been boiled and cooled down. This is not for normal sufferers — it's for people who have tried everything and nothing works.
          2. Taking a shower. One thing about showering is there's the steam, which either gets rid of mucus or thins it out. The job of the nose is to humidify, to make air moist, so it's as if the shower is doing the nose's job for it. A shower essentially is washing away the pollens. It's a temporary solution, because we know you're going to be outside again eventually.
          3. Eating wasabi. We've all had that experience when you eat too much wasabi and your whole nose is on fire. It doesn't last very long, but it does have decongestant chemicals in it. We have pills that are decongestants, but the way they work is they squeeze your artery tight, in order to make more space in your nose to allow you to breathe. Unfortunately, they squeeze all your other arteries tight, so if you have high blood pressure or heart disease, we don't want you to being taking any decongestant pills. The good news is wasabi seems to be localized to your nose.
          4. Local honey. The argument is that local honey works because bees are harvesting local pollen from local flowers. So the idea is, when you eat the local honey, you're getting a small amount of local pollen, so if you're allergic to it, you're slowly getting desensitized to it. There are contradicting studies on the topic, so the bottom line is there's no consensus on this, but if you like honey, supporting your local honey farm is not a bad thing.  
          5 Reasons to Celebrate National Yoga Month

          Oh, September. With you comes the genesis of Fall, the NFL season kick-off and school bells ringing. It’s also a time for yogis to celebrate as September is National Yoga Month. Designed to educate all about the health benefits of yoga and to inspire a healthy lifestyle, lets get in the spirit of this OM-mazing month!

          Yoga is an ancient practice with origins stretching back thousands of years in India. It is designed to help achieve a more positive outlook on life and a focused, permanent sense of serenity and peace. The word ‘yoga’ itself means ‘union’ and ‘union with the divine'; however, many people have stripped away the spirituality and focus of yoga so that most think of it as a group of intensely athletic people putting their legs behind their heads and curling up into jaw-dropping positions.

          After years of careful stretches and practice–yoga has so much more to offer than flexibility and the idea of garnering a strong body. People of all shapes, sizes, ages and abilities can do yoga and adapt it to suit their individual tastes and needs. If you think yoga might not be for you, we urge you to reconsider. Here are five reasons why you should start doing yoga as soon as you can via LifeHack!

          1. It’s a great workout. First of all and most obviously, yoga is a fantastic workout for your body. You can adapt the practices to your own speed and level of comfort. No matter which yoga exercises you choose, the practices will always be part of a great workout routine. There are some fantastic series of movements out there that are perfect for every kind of day and for every kind of person, meaning there’s no reason not to start doing some yoga as soon as you can.
          2. It gets you in touch with your body. Yoga stretches and exercises are designed around the idea of moving your body to increase its strength and durability. Therefore, doing yoga on a regular basis will really get you to be much more in tune with your body and know when something is really working and when it isn’t.
          3. It can help your breathing technique. A big part of yoga is the breathing exercises–or the pranayama–which are incorporated into positions and then on their own. The exercises encourage a more focused and centered way of breathing, and while they might not be something you’ll do consciously every day, they’re absolutely sure to provide methods of effective stress-management and generally make you feel much better. Plus, as someone with asthma, it really helps to open your lungs and explore what it means to breath consciously. Trust me: do those pranayamas for a few weeks, and you’ll feel the benefits.
          4. It can improve your sleep. Another minor but pleasant benefit is that doing yoga can actually help you get better sleep. This might be due to the fact that a few sequences of poses and movements are intended to be done right before sleep, but regardless, studies have shown that doing some light physical activity before our heads hit the hay can help us get off to sleep more quickly, which usually leads to a much better quality of sleep.
          5. It will improve your posture. Yoga is pretty effective at helping you develop some premium, proper posture, since a lot of the breathing and seated positions require a straight back for proper effect. Good posture is definitely going to develop during yoga practice. You’ll start off slouching and slumped, reflecting the figure of someone who spends most of the day at their desk–believe me, I’ve been there–and yoga will help sculpt your back into the kind of poised posture that’ll make you walk taller and feel immensely better about it.
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