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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.


          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.

          Why allergies aren't just a spring thing

          It's normal for people to sneeze their heads off in the spring. It's as much a part of the season as April flowers and May showers, as anyone with allergies will tell you. But it's not just spring. The pollen of spring flowers gives way to grass and tree pollen, and the wet springs and wet summers bring mold. Then comes ragweed and other weeds. And we're not even going to get into dust mites in your carpet or dog dander on the kitchen floor or food allergies.

          Yeah, this dealing-with-allergies stuff can be a year-round pain in the septum. Dr. Stanley Fineman is a past president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) and he has been a practicing allergist for more than 35 years. He finds the whole subject of allergies and allergens fascinating — good for someone who spends many of his days up to his ears in Kleenex.

          The wonder lies in the numbers. There are so many allergens out there, and so many people who react differently to allergens. And those same people can react differently to different allergens at different times of their lives and at different times of the year. So something that can make you feel like hacking up a lung at 16 can be completely harmless at 35. And something you had no problem with as a kid can punch you in the nose in later life.

          You can move somewhere new, with all sorts of different flora, and think you're breathing in pure, clean Rocky Mountain-type air. Ten years later, it's as if you're breathing in rocks. Fineman says he sees it all the time. The possibilities, the pure permutations, are practically endless.

          "I think it's a really exciting field to be in," Fineman said from his office in Marietta, Georgia. "We're doing research on new treatment options all the time." The first trick in getting your allergies under control, you'd think, is avoiding the triggers. So if you're allergic to a certain type of pollen, avoid going outside when that's in the air. But you can see the potential pitfalls there. Who stays inside all the time? Even if you can, who can keep pollen from leaking in? How do you know which pollen sets off the watery eyes and scratchy throat and all that hacking, and how much of it? Maybe what's setting you off isn't the pollen you think it is, anyway. Maybe it's pollen from another plant. Maybe it's a couple different pollens. Maybe it's not even pollen. Maybe it's cats ... or crustaceans.

          Fineman explains it this way: We all have a bucketful of potential triggers that we can tolerate. But then comes another allergen from over there, and maybe another from behind the garage, and the one you think you know about happens to be flaring up this week, and pretty soon your bucket is tipping over and spilling all down the front of your face. That's called the "threshold phenomenon," and it's why Fineman suggests that the first step to getting allergies under control isn't avoiding the triggers, but figuring out what those triggers are. To do that right, you need a skin test.

          If you've never had a skin test for allergies, it may sound a little 16th century. The test is simple, really: A doctor (or a nurse) will subject your skin to as many as 40 different allergens to see what happens. Different types of pollen, pet dander, food allergens and dust. You'll get a drop of extract of each potential allergen on a tiny portion of your skin — usually a forearm — which is then pricked barely into the skin surface. It's relatively painless.

          Then everybody waits to see how your skin reacts, and to what. According to the Mayo Clinic, doctors (or nurses) also test the skin with two other substances: one that makes sure your skin will indeed react to potential allergens (a histamine) and one that makes sure your skin won't react too much, that it isn't too sensitive (either glycerin or saline).

          According to the ACAAI, nasal allergies affect as many as 50 million Americans. In the past year, some 17 million adults and almost 7 million children have been diagnosed with allergic rhinitis, known commonly as hay fever. Allergies can't be cured. There is no one magic nose spray that will suddenly make the world's stuffed-up breathe and the puffy-eyed see clearly. But once you know what's setting you off, allergies can be controlled. And that, at least, should bring some relief.

          Creamy Chocolate Pistachio Chia Shake

          Time to jump on this whole chia seed bandwagon! Despite their minuscule appearance, chia seeds are a nutritional powerhouse: They’re packed with omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, calcium, fiber and protein. Plus, these small ingredients are simple to make into a pudding because they absorb up to 10 times their weight in water! Not only does this make chis seeds a great starting point for breakfast, a healthy snack, or textured dessert, but it also means that they will help you stay hydrated. Try making this chia seed pudding recipes via Half Baked Harvest — and don’t be afraid to put your own spin on them, too.

          Chia seeds are harvested from the Salvia hispanica plant, a type of sage in the mint family. The seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids and have versatile uses in the kitchen. Chia seeds were a staple of the ancient Aztec diet, and they are now grown commercially in Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala, and Mexico. Australia is the biggest producer of chia seeds, which is now marketed under various names. Even the oil extracted from chia seeds are found to have a high nutritional value. Both, seeds and oils are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, antoxidants and amino acids.Chia seeds may be eaten raw or prepared in a number of dishes. Raw, they are an excellent source of dietary fiber and Omega-3 fatty acids. Chia seeds may be ground into pinole, a meal that can be used for porridge or baked goods. They may also be soaked in fruit juice or water to make a dish known as chia fresca in Mexico.

          Chia seeds are very absorbent and develop a gelatinous texture when soaked in water. In recent decades, chia has seen a resurgence in popularity and has been hailed as a “super food” with many dietary benefits. It helps the body retain fluids and electrolytes, it forms a gel in the stomach that slows the conversion of carbohydrates to sugar, and it helps build muscle and other tissues. Chia is a source of protein and boron, which aids in the absorption of calcium. Chia seeds can be used to make a gel that one can substitute for oil or other fats in a variety of recipes. Chia gel can be added to any sauces, jellies, or baked goods, for example.

          Ingredients

          • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk, plus more to thin if desired
          • 2 tablespoons black chia seeds
          • 3 whole medjool dates, pitted
          • 1/3 cup roasted + shelled pistachios, plus more for topping
          • 3 frozen medium + very ripe bananas, peeled and sliced
          • 2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
          • 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt or use coconut milk yogurt for a vegan option
          • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

          Instructions

          1. In a small bowl mix together the milk and chia seeds. Let this sit for 10-15 minutes.
          2. Meanwhile add the pistachios and dates to the bowl of a food processor or high powered blender. Blend until the mixture becomes finely chopped and almost butter like, scraping down the side as you go. You want to get it as smooth as possible. I let the mixture blend for about 5 minutes.
          3. To the blender add the chia seeds + milk mixture, the frozen banana chunks, cocoa powder, greek yogurt and vanilla extract. Blend until thick, creamy, and smooth, about 3-4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the blender as needed. If the shake is too thick add more milk to your liking.
          Fight Fall Allergies Before They Start

          You heard all about the worst allergy season ever. You know the pollen tsunami swept through and left everyone sneezing and wheezing in its wake. But you want to know why the end of summer is almost here and you’re still miserable. As summer winds down, it’s a good time to start fighting your fall allergies before they hit. As CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez explained, ragweed is the culprit. The frilly green plants growing by the side of the road with the golden array of flowers on top are about to explode and release trillions of misery producing pollen grains into the air.

          “It’s sneezing, runny nose, soar throat, itchiness everywhere. There have actually been times where I have been bed bound if I didn’t have medication,” Dani Dumitriu said. The American College of Allergy Asthma and Immunology said if you suffer from ragweed allergies like Dani, now is the critical time to start considering relief even if you aren’t experiencing symptoms yet.

          “People wait too long and they wait until they are very symptomatic, and they start taking medicines, but you are kind of behind the eight ball,” Dr. Beth Corn, Mount Sinai Hospital said. Ragweed season typically starts in August and lasts into September or October. Experts said most people who are allergic to spring plants often react to ragweed. “It turns out with global warming and just climate changes, the allergy season is now longer,” Dr. Corn said. “I actually think they have controlled my symptoms. There is just no point in suffering,” She said.

          “Although spring, summer and fall have different sets of allergens to trip up allergy and asthma sufferers, they can cause the same symptoms,” says allergist Janna Tuck, M.D., Fellow of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). “Those who have multiple triggers, may not be able to distinguish between what’s causing their symptoms. They just know they’re congested, with red eyes and an itchy nose.”

          Ragweed is the biggest allergy trigger in the fall. It usually starts releasing pollen with cool nights and warm days in August, and can last into September and October. And the majority of people who are allergic to spring plants are also allergic to ragweed. “The most important reminder is to start taking fall allergy [relief] two weeks or so before symptoms usually begin,” says Dr. Tuck. “Both nasal and eye symptoms associated with ragweed allergies can linger after pollen is no longer in the air.”

          What else can you do about fall allergy symptoms? The first line of defense is to avoid triggers. After spending time outdoors, shower, change and wash your clothes. Keep windows closed can help reduce exposure, and changing your clothes and rinsing off when you come inside can help get rid of pollen. If you do go outside, wear a hat and sunglasses to keep pollen out of your eyes.

          For more information and to find relief, visit AllergyandAsthmaRelief.org.

          Two Ingredient Tropical Delight: Cantaloupe Coconut Shake

          A simple and healthy dessert, made with the simplest ingredients is all you need some evenings regardless if you're eighty-something or twenty-something. Try a new recipe this weekend, such as this delicious cantaloupe coconut shake. We suggest only make this recipe with summer ripe cantaloupes! No conference cantaloupes allowed, aka the ones that are practically white and hard and tasteless. The combination leaves you with a purely tropical, smooth and creamy treat that has much more flavor depth than you would expect from only two ingredients.

          Even though this popular melon is 90 percent water, it's still packed with refreshingly rich flavor—for just 56 calories per cup. One cup of cantaloupe also provides 103.2 percent of the daily value for vitamin A. Cantaloupes and other summer melons serve as the quintessential take-along snack for summer picnics and barbeques. Their high water content helps ward off dehydration and combat the heat while their refreshing taste provides a guilt-free, low maintenance dessert for kids and adults alike. The mildly sweet and juicy flavor of cantaloupe makes it a perfect fruit for even the pickiest palates.

          Eating fruits like cantaloupe are beneficial for your hair because they contain vitamin A, a nutrient required for sebum production, which keeps hair moisturized and healthy. Vitamin A is also necessary for the growth of all bodily tissues, including skin and hair. Adequate intake of vitamin C is needed for the building and maintenance of collagen, which provides structure to skin and hair. One cup of diced cantaloupe provides 97% of daily needs for vitamin C.Cantaloupe also contributes to overall hydration, which is vital for having healthy looking skin and hair. You can even use it as a hair conditioner! Mash together cantaloupe chunks and avocado, smooth onto hair and leave on for 10 minutes to replenish moisture and add shine.

          Ingredients

          • 1 cubed cantaloupe (must be in season and ripe), chilled
          • 1/3 coconut milk
          • Top with toasted coconut chips

          Directions

          1. Scoop and remove seeds.
          2. Cube cantaloupe and remove from rind.
          3. Add coconut and cantaloupe to a blender. Puree.
          4. Serve in a glass and top with coconut chips or shredded coconut.
          Summer allergens and indoor air quality issues in Texas may be cause of allergic reactions

          Many Texans associate allergies with spring, but allergies can be a problem for people any month of the year and the summer season is no exception. Summer allergies can be caused by seasonal outdoor culprits or due to the presence of indoor allergens. Two of the most common causes of summer allergies are due to the presence of pollen and mold. Depending on where a person lives in Texas, they will be exposed to a variety of different pollens.  Generally speaking, trees pollinate during the spring, but grasses and weeds can still cause pollen allergies throughout the summer months.  Elevated levels of airborne mold spores are also a common occurrence during the summer months.  Warm and moist conditions can be conducive for elevated mold spore counts which can be an issue for people working or enjoying the outdoors. 

          “These same spores can also make their way indoors through open windows, doors, HVAC system air intakes, and even on people’s clothes, hair, and on their pets,” said Hollis L. Horner, President, Indoor Environmental Consultants, Inc.  “People that are allergic to mold should inspect their home, school, or work environment for any signs of its presence or moisture damage.  Mold can grow quickly on many materials used to build and furnish both residential and commercial properties when temperatures are warm and moisture is present.  In fact, any part of a building that has suffered water damage or elevated humidity levels is a likely source of indoor mold.  Even mold growing in a crawl space, basement, attic, or in a wall cavity, can cause indoor air quality problems. Dust mites are another common indoor allergen during the summer months.  Similar to mold, these tiny creatures thrive during this time of year with its warm and humid conditions.

          While some turn to the same over the counter medication to get them through the season, consumers are increasingly looking to natural solutions to either compliment and boost the effects of their daily regimen of medication, or to replace that medication altogether. Natural solutions are proving effective as they get to the root of allergy symptoms, or just address the allergies in new, more holistic ways to great success. Lexi Hagenson, a Chicago-based licensed acupuncturist and certified herbalist, has several recommendations for fighting back against allergies, the natural way.

          1. Neti Pot: First, she recommends the use of a Neti Pot, which can be found in most health food stores. Just follow the directions on the package. "It's the most effective way to remove pollen, dust, environmental irritants and mucus from your sinuses, without causing dryness or rebound congestion often experienced from pharmaceutical decongestants." While it's not the most pleasant experience, nasal irrigation like with a Neti Pot soothes and protects nasal passages, something most allergy sufferers desperately need.
          2. Acupuncture: Second, she recommends weekly acupuncture treatments for a month or two. "This 3,000-year-old practice can remarkably improve quality of life for allergy sufferers, even those who don't see results from conventional anti-allergy medications," says Hagenson. Numerous scientific studies have shown that acupuncture is effective for addressing all manner of maladies, even if how it works isn't immediately clear to Western physicians. But adds Hagenson, "acupuncture works both locally by [alleviating] head, neck and facial symptoms, and throughout the body by promoting healthy circulation and decreasing areas of hypersensitivity and stagnation."
          3. Rootology: Breathe Free: Finally, and perhaps most rapid-acting, Hagenson recommends the use of formulas based on Chinese Herbology, such as Rootology: Breathe Free. Not as well known in the U.S., Chinese Herbology is different than other natural allergy remedies, such as Homeopathy, Stinging Nettles, Quercetin, or herbal tinctures, because it starts working immediately, in about 20 minutes, on the same biological systems as Sudafed, but more gently and effectively. While Chinese formulas can vary, even when addressing the same ailment, Rootology's Breathe Free formula is made of 13 concentrated herbal extracts, each with specific functions as detailed on their website. Of the two most prevalent ingredients, Hagenson says, "xanthium fruit and magnolia flower are two extremely effective herbs for alleviating nasal symptoms like profuse nasal discharge and itchiness." She continues, "when taken regularly for a period of time, Rootology can actually help the sinus passageways work more efficiently." To those who may be skeptical, especially if they're not familiar with the herbs, Hagenson offers, "just give it a try! If after two or three doses you feel no change you can always quit with no harm done, especially with the thirty day guarantee. But I highly doubt there won't be a noticeable difference."

          Dr. Joan Lehach, MD, a highly regarded allergist in New York City agrees. "I have been practicing Allergy and Clinical Immunology for over 25 years and I am really excited to recommend Rootology, a new all-natural product that really works. It immediately alleviates sneezing, nasal itch, congestion and rhinorrhea (runny nose) without side-effects. Rootology is first line in my practice." With these tips, hopefully you'll find your way through the fall season, especially the natural way.

          You can find more information about Rootology: Breathe Free, including expert and customer testimonials and a description of exactly how it works at www.RootologyHealth.com

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