Did you know that keeping the nasal passages moist will help reduce the risk of contracting a cold or flu virus? By preventing drying and cracking of the mucous membranes, a humidifier or vapourizer can help prevent germs from finding an easy route into the body. In the colder months, the air in your home becomes very dry. This is primarily due to home heating and the fact that fresh outdoor air, laden with moisture, no longer enters from open windows. This dry indoor air draws whatever moisture it can from household objects and occupants. This is one of the reasons people experience drier skin in winter. Dry indoor air also dries out the mucous membranes of the throat and nose, causing discomfort and congestion, and reducing their ability to act as barriers against infection. Dried out mucous membranes develop tiny cracks that are open invitations for opportunistic germs, including the viruses that cause colds and flu.
For many of us, autumn is the time of back-to-school, fall fashion and beautiful changing landscapes. However, a significant number of us suffer from seasonal allergies, peaking in October.
Symptoms of seasonal allergies (hay fever) include:
So, what can one do to help reduce the symptoms (and reduce the suffering!)?
Here’s a trade secret that may get me kicked out my doctors’ golfing club (which wouldn’t bother me much, to be honest, because frankly, I hate golf): very often, when we see what looks like a bite on someone during the summer, we tell them it’s a spider bite, which generally satisfies the patient who nearly always says, “You know, that’s just what I thought, too.”
Trouble is: spiders rarely bite, especially in Canada, so a “spider bite” is much more likely to be a result of the bite of another bug, such as a flea, for example.
In fact, according to one expert, Chris Buddle, an arachnologist – that’s a guy who studies spiders – at McGill University, spiders don’t want to bite you because like me at most parties, they’d really much rather avoid contact with humans.
My favourite pastime – by the proverbial country mile – is hiking.
In fact, the week after this item gets published, Phyllis (the woman who has tolerated me for over 44 years mostly because, she says, I make her laugh a lot – at me, not with me, but hey! Whatever works, right?) and I are off for a 9-day hike in the UK.
And in case you’re wondering why I love hiking so much, especially in the UK and France, the answer is simple: the 2 large ciders (in the UK) or the 2 large glasses of wine (in France, bien sur) that I am allowed to have every afternoon as we finally make it into our destination for that day.
The hiking is OK, but the cider and wine? Priceless.
Anyway, that aside, hiking also carries certain obvious risks, most of which I have run into over the years – sprains, strains, scrapes, blisters, rashes, and even the one I want to mention today, poison ivy, which I experienced once because of a side trip I had to make into the bushes (do not try to imagine this).
“Poison ivy” is a rash caused by sensitivity to an oily resin in the poison ivy plant (but also in poison oak and poison sumac).
RICHMOND, B.C., August 30, 2013 – Children and adults heading back to school and to their regular routines this fall should take simple precautions to stay healthy and prevent the spread of viruses and bacteria.
“Illnesses and infections such as a cold, the flu, pinkeye, and strep throat are common contagious conditions kids are likely to catch at school by touching multiple shared surfaces,” says London Drugs Pharmacist, Pindy Janda. “Hand washing is important all of the time but particularly when there is a change in routine – such as going back to school. Busy environments like schools and workplaces provide an ideal breeding environment for viruses and bacteria and prevention is the key to staying healthy.”
In addition to hand washing, Janda explains that it is important to practice good “sleep hygiene”. This involves choosing a fixed bedtime and awakening, avoiding daytime naps as well as monitoring caffeine and alcohol consumption. Getting back into a consistent sleep routine is one of the most important things for both children and adults.
This time of year, a lot of patients are asking me about seasonal allergy remedies. They are surprised when I tell them that medications such as Reactine or Aerius are Step 3 in the treatment protocol. Step 1 is allergen avoidance and Step 2 is allergen removal. I must mention at this point that for those with serious symptoms, such as bacterial sinusitis or allergic asthma, please see your doctor.
Looking for a “grain” of truth about the trendy wheat-free diet
A wheat-free diet is the choice of a growing number of people. Whether it’s because of a desire to avoid gluten, lose weight or improve digestive health, there is much interest in wheat avoidance. Let’s look at the rationale for and against this popular way of eating.
Wheat is one of the most consumed grains in the world and has been a staple for thousands of years. Wheat is used to make many types of human foods and beverages, and is also used for animal feed. Wheat is not suitable for everyone, however, and allergies, autoimmune responses or intolerances can result.