Category Archives: Allergy

Home Care Tips for Cold & Sore Throat

Re blogged from my old post

Usually with winter respiratory and throat infection cases increases, but this year physicians and ENT clinics are witnessing increased number of Patients as Mumbai is experiencing unusual low levels of temperature.

With High level of pollutants and particulate matter allergic cold (rhinitis) and sore throat cases are on rise.

3157516906_2df91217faphoto by quirkyrocket at flickr creative commons

Here are few home care tips to fight with stuffy nose/sore throat:–

Though it does not replace proper diagnosis and medical management but it helps as supportive treatment in faster recovery and reduces sleepless nights. Personally I have advised these tips to patients and it works in lessening patient’s discomfort.

  •  Proper rest
  •  Take balanced diet with plenty of vitamin and minerals to boost defense mechanism.
  •  Vitamin c and zinc supplements.
  •  Keep hydration adequate as cold air has drying effect
  • Hot soups like tomato soup, chicken soup works wonder in thinning of secretions.
  •  Black pepper, basil leaves, cloves and ginger boil with water and drink at night time; it’s soothing and helps in mucus coming out.
  • Honey is age old miraculous natural cure from cough.
  • One pinch of turmeric with 1 cup warm milk helps in easy expulsion of mucus.
  • Researches show ginger, garlic and onion has medicinal properties and helps in cold and cough.

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  • Gargles with warm saline (salt in warm water)
  •  Saline irrigation or nasal wash (1/4 teaspoonful of salt in lukewarm water)
  •  Humidification. Use of vaporizer (Steam inhalation) or humidifier can be done to increase the humidity in the air.
  •  Avoid smoking; active and passive.
  •  Avoid alcohol as it increases swelling of mucus membrane.
  •  Avoid dust, pollen, pets, deodorants, chemical irritants.
  • Do deep breathing exercises.

Get flu vaccine before season starts, it works.

  • Dress in layers wear woolen cloths
  • Protect hands and feet (30% of heat escapes through hands and feet
  • Cover head with hat or scarf (40% of heat lost through head)

Enjoy Winter With Home Care for Stuffy Nose/Sore Throat

photo by quirkyrocket at flickr creative commons

Usually with winter respiratory and throat infection cases increases, but this year physicians and ENT clinics are witnessing increased number of Patients as Mumbai is experiencing unusual low levels of temperature for prolonged period.

With High level of pollutants and particulate matter trapped in the morning fog allergic cold (rhinitis)  and sore throat cases are on rise.

You can read more about air pollution in Mumbai at agreeneryoutoo.blogspot.com by Sunita purushottam

Usually you can wait for 7-10 days for symptoms to go away with some home measures if it is improving or not worsening.

Here are few home care tips to fight with stuffy nose/sore throat:–

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cc Flickr Photo by assbach

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  • Dress in layers wear woolen cloths
  • Protect hands and feet (30% of heat escapes through hands and feet
  • Cover head with hat or scarf (40% of heat lost through head)
  • In excessive old cover your face with scarf

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  • Decongestants shrink the blood vessels in the lining of the nose and relieve stuffiness. Decongestant nasal sprays and drops should not be used for more than 3 days, because they have rebound effect and can make the congestion worse.

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  • Antihistamines may reduce the amount of mucus but most antihistamines make people drowsy.

  • Gentle saline nasal sprays are quite helpful.

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  • For a baby an infant nasal aspirator can help remove the mucus. Putting two or three saline nose drops into each nostril helps in loosening of thick mucus. Discharge can be cached outside the nostril on a tissue rather than inserting cotton swab inside the nose.

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  • Warm saline gargles (lukewarm water with common salt) soothes throat.
  • Use of vaporizer (Steam inhalation) or humidifier can be done to increase the humidity in the air.
  • Maintain hydration as cold air has drying effect.
  • Keep the head elevated while sleeping.

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  • Adhesive strips can be placed on the nose. These strips help widen the nostrils, making breathing easier.

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  • Hot tea, broth, or chicken soup may be especially helpful.
  • Keep balanced diet with vitamins and minerals to boost immunity.
  • Avoid outside food
  • Take adequate rest
  • Wash hands regularly
  • Avoid smoking and alcohol as it increases nasal irritation

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The FLU Ends with U. Learn more: www.flu.gov

    • Get flu vaccine

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It is important to understand the symptoms of common cold, flu and sinusitis for appropriate treatment.

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Last but not the least  to share with all health care professionals

The FLU Ends with U. Healthcare providers make a difference. Learn more: www.flu.gov

Smoking and Asthma:World Asthma Day

Smoke from cigars, cigarettes, and pipes has adverse effects on almost all the organs of the body in many ways, and even passive smokers are at risk.

Smokers are more likely to get Upper respiratory tract infections, chronic cough and lung conditions and it is a powerful asthma trigger too.

Smoke acts as irritant and causes swelling and narrowing of airway along with excessive mucus thus person may develop cough, wheezing, and shortness of breath.

Smoke induced asthma flare-ups may be more severe and harder to control with medicine as it decreases the effect of the controller medicine.

Quitting smoking can reverse asthma-inducing changes in lungs

ScienceDaily (2009-12-08) — Asthmatic smokers may be able to reverse some of the damage to their lungs that exacerbates asthmatic symptoms just by putting down their cigarettes, according to new research (University of Groningen in the Netherland).

Good evidence supports that smoking cessation lowers the risk  so get convinced to quit smoking…

Quitting smoking is most positive thing you can do for yourself and your loved ones…

And if you need some special day to quit then today is World Asthma day,…

Understanding Asthma: A step towards Asthma Control

World Asthma Day (WAD) is an annual event organized by the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) to improve asthma awareness and care around the world.
The theme of World Asthma Day 2010, Tuesday, May 4, 2010 will be “You Can Control Your Asthma.” On WAD, GINA also plans to launch a campaign to reduce asthma hospitalizations by 50% in 5 years.

Patient education plays the pivotal role in control of asthma.

Health care provider should take honest efforts and give proper time in educating every patient regarding–

  • Nature of the disease and causes of inflammation and asthma triggers.
  • Regular monitoring at home by peak flow meter
  • Asthma medication with side effects
  • Technique of using inhaler, spacer and nebulizer
  • Action plan for treating exacerbation
  • Measures to reduce exposure to indoor allergens

Nature of the disease

Asthma is a persistent illness categorized by recurring attacks of breathlessness and wheezing may include coughing and chest tightness, which differ in severity and frequency. Asthma cannot be cured, but it can be controlled with proper management of environment and medication.

Most common cause is inhalation of allergens and bronchial hyper responsiveness to otherwise trivial stimuli. When triggered by stimulus narrowing of airway can occur because of smooth muscle contraction, edema of the wall and increased mucus secretion.

The two main factors that contribute to asthma are inflammation of the airway passages and hyper reactive bronchi**.

Asthma trigger

An asthma attack can occur when you are exposed to things in the environment, these are called asthma triggers.

Asthma triggers can be very different for different person with asthma.  It is important to understand what triggers your symptoms and what makes them go away. You and your health care provider can work together to assure that you avoid exposure to the substance that triggers your asthma symptoms.

Smoker’s are at a greater risk for developing asthma.

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Common asthma triggers include:

Irritants

  • dirt, cigarette smoke, secondhand smoke and air pollution
  • household, household cleaners, perfumes, paints, varnishes, fabric softeners, laundry detergents and co-oking fumes
  • in the workplace, fumes and vapors from wood products and metals

Allergen-

  • Dust Mites– dermatophagoids pteronyssinus, d. farina
  • Cockroach – blattella germanica
  • Pets—cat felix domesticus
  • Dog– canis familiaris
  • Rodents mouse/rat  mus muscularis / ratus norweigicus
  • Mold-alternaria alternata, aspergilus fumigatus
  • Pollens—rye grass (lolium perenne, rag weed (ambrosia eletoir, oak

Other Triggers

  • Viral and bacterial upper airway infection such as cold and sinusitis
  • Strong odour and fumes
  • Exposure to cold dry air
  • Strenuous physical exercise;
  • Some medicines Some medications aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) such as ibuprofen; and beta-blockers.
  • Bad weather, such as thunderstorms, high humidity, or freezing temperatures;
  • Smoke from burning wood, grass, or other vegetation;
  • Some foods and food additives
  • Strong emotional states
  • Acid reflux

Asthma Treatment

Asthma cannot be cured, but it can be controlled with proper management of environment and medication.

I. Environmental control.

Most important is to avoid environmental trigger factors. Try to find out your triggers and avoid them.

Listed below are some ways–:

Dust mite

  • Vacuum Clean (with   HEPA High Efficiency particulate) the house thoroughly at least once a week.
  • Wear a mask while cleaning the house
  • Avoid pets with fur or feathers
  • Wash the bedding regularly at 130 f / 60 c in hot water
  • Encase the mattress, pillows in dust-proof covers
  • Consider replacing upholstered furniture with leather or vinyl
  • Consider replacing carpeting with hardwood floors or tile
  • Use the air conditioner
  • Keep the humidity in the house low

Cats/dogs

  • Keep animal outside or remove
  • If you cannot avoid exposure, try to minimize contact.
  • Vacuum Clean weekly (With HEPA)
  • Room air filter
  • Wash animal regularly

Cockroaches

  • Block crevices, wall cracks and windows.
  • Keep food in lidded containers
  • Vacuum and sweep the floor after meals, and take out garbage and recyclable.
  • Use lidded garbage containers in the kitchen.
  • Wash dishes immediately after use and clean kitchen surface, under stoves, refrigerators or toasters where crumbs can accumulate.

Indoor Molds

  • Clean up mold growth with water, detergent (and 5% bleach) and dry the area.
  • Wash clothing with soap and water and dry.
  • Seal leaking roofs or pipes.
  • Use dehumidifier in damp areas.

II. Lung function monitoring by peak flow meter

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Periodic assessments and ongoing monitoring of asthma are essential to determine if therapy is adequate.

Peak flow meter is a Small device which gives idea of air flow out of your lungs

Patient should be educated regarding use of peak flow meter and symptoms and signs of an asthma exacerbation. Regular follow-up visits are important.

Lung function decreases 3-4 day prior to an asthma attack thus it can help warn of impending exacerbation.

III. Medicines

Since asthma is a chronic disease, it requires ongoing management. This includes using proper medications to prevent and control asthma symptoms.

There are two general classes of asthma medications, quick-relief and long-term controller medications.

Rescue Medications (relievers)-

Quick-relief medications are used to relieve symptoms during acute asthma attack.

It includes Bronchodilators and oral corticosteroids.

Bronchodilator increases the diameter of the air passages thus easing the flow of air to and from the lungs.

The short-acting bronchodilators used to relieve symptoms during acute asthma attack. Eg Metaproterenol , ephedrine, terbutaline and albuterol .

Long-Term Control Medications (Controllers)-

Long-term controller medications are taken on a regular basis to control airway inflammation and treat symptoms in people who have frequent asthma symptoms.

Anti-inflammatory reduces inflammation, and reduce the spontaneous spasm of the airway muscle. Used as a preventive measure to lessen the risk of acute asthma attacks

Inhaled corticosteroids, cromolyn  (need to be taken four times per day) and leukotriene modifiers can help control the inflammation that occurs in the airways of most people who have asthma.

Inhaled long-acting beta agonist are symptom-controllers t hat open your airways and may have other beneficial effects used only along with inhaled corticosteroids.

Theophylline is the most frequently used.

Immunotherapy (allergy shots) may help if avoidance of irritant and medications fail to control asthma. The treatment begins with injections of a solution of allergen given one to five times a week, with the strength gradually increasing.

Patients with persistent asthma should be given an annual influenza vaccine.

You can read my older posts about Occupational asthma risk and protective measures to avoid workplace allergens .

Find More information on you can control your asthma at http://www.cdc.gov/asthma/healthcare.html#guidelines , here you can find Asthma control brochures , and asthma action plan (asthma and outdoor air pollution and Help your child gain control over asthma in PDF format.)

View animation on asthma management at medindia.net

Protective Measures to avoid workplace allergen/irritants

Previous post- workplace allergy; where is the risk?

Best treatment for workplace allergy is avoidance of allergen but one can not just stop going to work…So certain measures should be taken to reduce the risk.

Sensitized workers should be removed from the offending environmental agent and the workplace modified or they can be relocated to another work area. People with irritant reactions may work with protective measures which should address worker and work environment.

Personal control-

  • Nutritional support of body defenses especially Vitamin C, zinc, selenium and magnesium.
  • Keep good hygienic measures by frequent hand washing but avoid excessive washing as resulting dryness may actually predispose to allergic/contact dermatitis.
  • Use masks, gloves, and protective clothing. Air hoods are better than simple filter-type face masks to adequately protect from exposure to allergens. A helmet with a respirator that protects against dusts can also be used. Gloves may sometimes actually cause contact dermatitis or certain irritants may penetrate through it and trapped inside.
  • Health Education and awareness regarding occupational allergy Posters and newsletter articles) is very important.
  • Workers in high risk areas should have routine checks for work related allergic sensitization by means of Skin Tests and Lung Function Tests.

Environmental control-

  • Keep your work area uncluttered as dust and molds gets collected over piles of papers, books, and files.
  • Dust your workplace regularly using a damp cloth. Tiles, plumbing fixtures, Leather goods should be regularly inspected and wiped down with Milton or Lysol.
  • Reduce moisture, as relative humidity greater than 40 percent increases mold growth.  Don’t use carpets in areas with dampness. Remove anything damaged by water including carpet pad to prevent establishment of a mold colony.
  • Clean humidifier regularly of the mold in the water container. Try lowering the thermostat.
  • Improve the air quality and circulation by periodic checking of work place air exchange system.
  • Use an air purifier which can help keep the air around your workstation clean. Environmental Control measures include the use of ventilated spray-paint booths, extractor fans, respirators and visors.
  • Ask coworkers not to smoke around you as Cigarette, pipe, and cigar smoke can aggravate allergies.

Allergic diseases in the workplace is a cause of growing concern for work related morbidity and absence from work. Every effort should be taken at all possible levels to protect from allergen. Further research is needed to answer questions concerning threshold levels for initial sensitization and post-sensitization reaction-producing levels.

Workplace Allergy…Where is the risk?

We like cleaned carpets but do we ever bother about chemical residues sneaking around after cleaning?  We can not work without air-conditioner on but do we ever realize mold spores taking rounds in the room?

We may not realize the importance … but for a person sensitive to allergy its real terror… Especially with closed spaces of tall office buildings and several cubicles which are filled with allergens and irritants workplace are now a significant source of illness.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have estimated there are 575,000 potentially hazardous chemicals in the work place. Substances with high molecular weight are more likely to sensitize workers than low molecular weight, especially in atopic individuals.

Occupational allergen and irritants may cause skin disease in from of urticaria/contact dermatitis or involve nose and respiratory passages causing allergic rhinitis/sinusitis/occupational asthma in susceptible individual.

Prompt intervention for suspected occupational allergies is most important as early detection may lead to reversibility of symptoms.

Although medication and symptom control is important, the offending allergen must be identified early and removed from the environment to prevent chronic ill health.  Best treatment is avoidance of allergen but one can not just stop going to work…So certain measures should be taken to reduce the risk.

Who are at risk and what are the high risk jobs?

* High risk person: –

  • History of atopy
  • Genetic factors
  • Certain pre existing condition lowering immunity
  • Cigarette smoking (by increasing IgE level and injury to airway)
  • Poor hygiene or over washing of hands

* High risk jobs: –

  • Bakers and flour mill workers: exposed to flour, mites, and molds.
  • Food processing: exposure to Soya beans, fish, shellfish and egg.
  • Farmers, dock workers and cotton workers: mold spores, poultry and plant dusts.
  • Carpenters and wood workers: exotic hardwoods.
  • Metal refining, plating and grinding workers: nickel. Chrome, cobalt , mineral oil
  • Plastic, rubber and adhesives: Isocynates, anhydrides, acrylate, epoxy resins
  • Construction worker: solvent and cement.
  • Detergent and pharmaceutical factory workers: enzymes, medication and biological dusts.
  • Foundries: resins, isocynates
  • Hospital workers: powdered latex gloves and formaldehyde
  • Laboratory workers:  airborne animal allergens.
  • Beauty-Parlors and hair dressing workers: chemicals from hair dye and shampoo (formaldehyde).

Types and symptoms of occupational allergy:

  • Occupational contact dermatitis: Skin rashes and eczema are most common cause of work related disease.
  • Occupational Rhinitis: sneezing, runny nose or teary, red and itchy eyes after prolong exposure to workplace allergen may precede asthma. Early diagnosis by nasal challenge test to find out the offending agent may prevent further exposure and development of asthma.
  • Occupational asthma is caused by sensitization to an agent inhaled in the workplace and usually presents with cough, wheezing and shortness of breath. It may occur after years of repeated exposure to chemicals and allergens. Non-allergic Reactive Airways Disease Syndrome (RADS) may develop more rapidly due to irritants such as chlorine, ammonia fumes or dust.
  • Nausea, vomiting or upset stomach.
  • Headaches or migraines.
  • Anaphylaxis.

What to Do?

  • Person should be routinely inspected by occupational health physicians to monitor preventative measures and assessing air samples.
  • Sensitized workers should be removed from the offending environmental agent and the workplace modified or they can be relocated to another work area.
  • People with irritant reactions may work with protective measures.
  • Severe allergic reactions, or anaphylaxis, (such as breathing problems, rapidly spreading urticaria, and swelling of the lips, face, tongue or loss of consciousness) can be life threatening and need urgent medical attention.

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