Click inside for the weekly health rail, with items on preventing allergies, a new study that shows parenthood can lower blood pressure, tips on getting iron in your diet, and more. Or check out the links below:
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Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean allergies have disappeared.
Even though ragweed season has passed, there is something else that can trigger allergy symptoms without warning: the allergens that lurk inside your home.
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, more than 20 percent of the general population suffers from allergies caused by dust mite debris, pet dander and mold. In fact, three out of every four adolescents with asthma are also allergic to these microscopic contaminants, the organization reports.
The most rampant of these allergens is the dust mite, which flourishes indoors during the cooler weather.
Dust mites live in warm, humid environments. They prefer temperatures between 70 to 85 degrees with a relative humidity of 70 to 80 percent but cannot survive when humidity levels fall below 50 percent. So as you turn up your thermostats and humidifiers this season, keep in mind you are unknowingly providing a safe haven for these unwanted houseguests.
The largest concentrations of dust mites occur in the bedroom. Pillows, mattresses, carpets, blinds, and upholstered furniture may contain millions of dust mites.
So how can you protect yourself from indoor allergens and experience the natural allergy relief you deserve?
Traditional methods recommended by most allergists involve using a multifaceted approach to eliminate allergen sources from the bedroom - remove, encase, and purify.
1. Remove dust reservoirs. Vacuuming can help, but disturbing carpet may cause dust mite debris to become airborne. By removing carpets, drapes and upholstered furniture from the bedroom and installing tile or wood floors, you can eliminate many dust mite environments.
2. Encase all bedding. Specialized encasement covers for mattresses, box springs, bedcovers and pillows are designed to trap dust mite particles from coming into contact with your body.
3. Purify and de-humidify. Quality furnace filters can remove some allergen sources, but maintaining lower humidity levels is often overlooked. De-humidification reduces both dust mites and molds, both which cannot thrive in arid environments.
Personal air filtration systems are designed to eliminate allergens from the breathing zone using HEPA filtration and dust mite encasement.
New research: Raising kids may lower blood pressure
A new Brigham Young University study found that parenthood is associated with lower blood pressure, particularly among women.
Taking into account factors such as age, body mass, gender, exercise, employment and smoking parents scored 4.5 points lower than non-parents in systolic blood pressure (the top number) and 3 points lower than non-parents in diastolic blood pressure.
Parenthood is not the only route to low blood pressure – daily exercise and a low-sodium diet are key lifestyle changes. The noteworthy aspect of the study is the idea that social factors may also protect physical health.
-- Brigham Young University
Did You Know?
A new study found patients with early-stage lung cancer who continued to smoke had a "substantially higher risk of death" than those who quit after diagnosis.
Health Tip: Are you getting enough iron?
Iron is a mineral needed by our bodies to do things such as carry oxygen from our lungs throughout our bodies and help our muscles store and use oxygen. Iron is a part of many enzymes and is used in many cell functions.
What can you do to ensure you’re getting enough iron?
Eat a healthful diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat free or nonfat milk and milk products, lean meats, fish, dry beans, eggs, nuts, and is low in saturated fat, trans fats, cholesterol, salt, and added sugars.
In addition to a healthful diet that includes good sources of iron, you can also eat foods that help your body absorb iron better. For example, you can eat a fruit or vegetable that is a good source of vitamin C. Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron.
-- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Number to Know: 20 percent
According to new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention research, 20 percent of people ages 12-19 in the U.S. have at least one abnormal cholesterol or lipid level.
Children’s Health: Scented sedation reduces stress
More doctors are exploring the use of “laughing gas” in pediatric sedation.
Delivered through masks scented with bubble gum, orange or vanilla, doctors say the nitrous oxide helps calm children for certain procedures, such as accessing a port with a needle to give chemotherapy or inserting urethral catheters for children undergoing workup for urinary tract infections.
Although the nitrous oxide isn’t right for every child, doctors say it is most useful for brief, minimally invasive procedures.
-- University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority
Senior Health: How to prevent falls
Especially during winter, with its snow and icy conditions, falls pose a serious health threat to older persons. Here are some tips to prevent falls:
- Consider medication side effects: Talk to your doctor about alternatives to medicines that will affect coordination, balance and blood pressure.
- Exercise: An exercise and balance training program helps improve strength, muscle tone, flexibility and stability.
- Prepare your home: Keep floors and stairs clear of clutter, clean up spills immediately, secure cords away from walkways, install grab bars in the bathroom and make sure rugs are secured to the floor.
- Prepare yourself: Wear appropriate footwear and make sure your clothes won’t trip you up. Learn how to use canes, walkers and wheelchairs properly.
-- Health Care Council of Illinois
GateHouse News Service