Monthly Archives: January 2012

Interesting read on asthma

Asthma is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Treatment of acute symptoms is usually with an inhaled short-acting beta-2 agonist. Symptoms can be prevented by avoiding triggers, such as allergens and irritants, and by inhaling corticosteroids.

Because much allergic asthma is associated with sensitivity to indoor allergens and because Western styles of housing favor greater exposure to indoor allergens, much attention has focused on increased exposure to these allergens in infancy and early childhood as a primary cause of the rise in asthma. Primary prevention studies aimed at the aggressive reduction of airborne allergens in a home with infants have shown mixed findings. Strict reduction of dust mite allergens, for example, reduces the risk of allergic sensitization to dust mites, and reduces the risk of developing asthma up until the age of 8 years old. However, studies also showed that the effects of exposure to cat and dog allergens worked in the converse fashion; exposure during the first year of life was found to reduce the risk of allergic sensitization and of developing asthma later in life.

Observational studies have found that indoor exposure to volatile organic compound (VOCs) may be one of the triggers of asthma. Even VOC exposure at low levels has been associated with an increase in the risk of pediatric asthma.

Home factors that can lead to exacerbation include dust, house mites, animal dander (especially cat and dog hair), cockroach allergens and molds at any given home. Perfumes are a common cause of acute attacks in females and children.

Symptoms occur or worsen in the presence of:

  • Exercise
  • Viral infection
  • Animals with fur or hair
  • House-dust mites (in mattresses, pillows, upholstered furniture, carpets)
  • Mold
  • Smoke (tobacco, wood)
  • Pollen
  • Changes in weather
  • Strong emotional expression (laughing or crying hard)
  • Airborne chemicals or dusts
  • Menstrual cycles

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What You Eat Affects How You Sleep !!!!

We’ve all heard of warm milk’s magical ability to send us off to dreamland. Dairy foods contain tryptophan, which is a sleep-promoting substance. Other foods that are high in tryptophan include nuts and seeds, bananas, honey, and eggs.

Carbohydrate-rich foods complement dairy foods by increasing the level of sleep-inducing tryptophan in the blood. So, a few perfect late night snacks to get you to sleep might include a bowl of cereal with milk, yogurt and crackers, or bread and cheese.

If you struggle with insomnia, a little food in your stomach may help you sleep. Keep the snack small. A heavy meal will tax your digestive system, making you uncomfortable and unable to get to sleep.

Avoid high-fat foods, research shows that people who often eat high-fat foods not only gain weight, they also experience a disruption of their sleep cycles. A heavy meal activates digestion, which can lead to night time trips to the bathroom.

An evening cup of coffee might disrupt your sleep. Even moderate caffeine can cause sleep disturbances. Also try to avoid chocolate, cola and tea. For better sleep, cut all caffeine from your diet four to six hours before bedtime.

Some over-the-counter and prescription drugs contain caffeine, too, such as pain relievers, weight loss pills, diuretics, and cold medicines. These and other medications may have as much or even more caffeine than a cup of coffee. Check the label of non-prescription drugs or the prescription drug information sheet to see if your medicine interferes with sleep or can cause insomnia.

Alcohol may help you fall asleep faster, but you may also experience frequent awakenings, less restful sleep, headaches, night sweats and nightmares. If you’re consuming alcohol in the evening, balance each drink with a glass a water to dilute the alcohol’s effects. For a good night’s sleep, avoid alcohol four to six hours before bedtime.

Lying down with a full stomach can make you uncomfortable, since the digestive system slows down when you sleep. It can also lead to heartburn. Make sure to finish a heavy meal at least four hours before bedtime.

Protein, an essential part of our daytime fare, is a poor choice for a bedtime snack. Protein-rich foods are harder to digest. Try to skip the high-protein snack before bedtime and opt for a glass of warm milk or some sleep-friendly carbs, like crackers.

While it is a good idea to stay hydrated throughout the day, try to curtail your fluid intake before bed. You’re sure to have interrupted sleep if you’re constantly getting up to go to the bathroom.

Also avoid nicotine, as it is a stimulant, with effects similar to caffeine. Avoid smoking before bedtime or if you wake up in the middle of the night.

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