Parents.com: Half of kids who have allergic reactions don’t get epinephrine before visiting ER

A new study has found that more than half of kids who need epinephrine following an allergic reaction don't get it. Here's what parents should know.

By Melissa Willets

A new study out of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology uncovers an alarming statistic: Approximately half of kids who need epinephrine following an allergic reaction don't get it before they seek emergency care. In fact, even children who were prescribed epinephrine for previous allergic reactions weren't getting the life-saving medication they needed right away in emergency situations.

According to the study's co-author, Dr. David Stukus from Nationwide Children's Hospital, anyone who suffers anaphylaxis—a severe allergic reaction characterized by any combination of symptoms including hives, swelling, nausea, vomiting, breathing problems, or wheezing—should get a dose of epinephrine ASAP. "If in doubt, give it," Dr. Stukus told Parents.com about administering an epinephrine auto-injector to a person suffering an allergic reaction.

How & When to Use an EpiPen

After looking at more than 400 kids who went to urgent care or the ER for anaphylaxis, researchers found that less than half had received epinephrine prior to their arrival. This is despite the fact that 67 percent had a prior prescription for an epinephrine auto-injector.

Interestingly, the study found kids were more likely to receive a dose of epinephrine if they had a reaction at school versus at home. Dr. Stukus told us that since students with food allergies are required to have a signed, written allergy treatment plan, school administrators are likewise required to follow those directives in the event of a reaction. But at home, emotions can come into the picture, understandably. As he notes, "It's a very stressful experience for parents." And it can be difficult to think through the necessary steps. "It's difficult to stick a needle in your child's leg," Dr. Stukus recognizes.

He stresses, however, that there is no downside to administering epinephrine, even when in doubt. But he also emphasizes that this research is by no means intended to guilt parents who may not have given their child the appropriate treatment. Instead, researchers hope to raise awareness that epinephrine is the only appropriate and effective treatment for anaphylaxis, and the sooner it's given, the better.

In fact, according to the study, kids who received epinephrine before they came to the ER were less likely to be treated with it there, and were more likely to go home than those who didn't get a dose pre-arrival.

The takeaway? Dr. Stukus told Science Daily, "It's vital to keep your epinephrine with you if you suffer from any sort of severe allergy. Anaphylaxis symptoms occur suddenly and can progress quickly. Always have a second dose with you and, when in doubt, administer it too. Anaphylaxis can be deadly if left untreated."

He also told Parents.com, "Being prepared is always the best policy." Dr. Stukus offers these additional tips for managing a food allergy:

  • Fully educate yourself about the allergy.
  • Practice administering an epinephrine auto-injector at every encounter with your child's pediatrician and allergist.
  • Role play what to do in an emergency with your child.

And in the event of an emergency, remember that step 1 is to administer the epinephrine. Step 2 is to call 911.

If you do not have an auto-injector with you for any reason, call 911 immediately and make sure paramedics have an epinephrine auto-injector on board their rig. Dr. Stukus strongly discourages parents from driving to the ER themselves if their child is suffering a reaction, especially if the hospital is far away. It is also never a good idea to go to a pharmacy and wait on line to fill a prescription. Again, call 911 and get help immediately.

Live Science: Half of kids don’t get epinephrine until they get to the ER

By Sara G. Miller, Staff Writer | July 14, 2017 07:29am ET

When a person has a severe allergic reaction, an injection of epinephrine can be lifesaving, and the sooner, the better.

But a new study finds that less than 40 percent of kids who had this type of allergic reaction, called anaphylaxis, received an injection of epinephrine before they got to the emergency room or an urgent care clinic.

Epinephrine can be given immediately to a child with anaphylaxis using an epinephrine auto-injector, a device that automatically injects a dose of the drug into a person's body. EpiPens are one type of epinephrine auto-injector. [8 Strange Signs You're Having an Allergic Reaction]

In the study, the researchers looked at medical records from more than 400 kids and teens who went to either the emergency room or the urgent care clinic at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Ohio for a severe allergic reaction. Nearly half of the patients were ages 5 or younger.

Only 36 percent of the kids in the study received epinephrine before arriving at the hospital or clinic, the researchers found. Not every patient included in the study ended up being treated with epinephrine once they arrived, the researchers noted. But 50 percent of the patients in the study did receive it when they arrived at the hospital or clinic, including some who had already gotten it before seeking care, the researchers found.

The children and teens were more likely to have received the drug prior to arriving at the hospital if their allergic reaction struck while they were at school, the researchers found.

"Treatment with epinephrine is often delayed or avoided by parents and caregivers," lead study author Dr. Melissa Robinson, an allergist at the National Jewish Hospital in Denver, said in a statement. "And sometimes, antihistamines are used even though they are not an appropriate treatment." Antihistamines are another common type of allergy medicine.

A majority of the kids and teens included in the study had had an anaphylactic reaction in the past, the researchers noted, but less than half of those patients had been prescribed an epinephrine auto-injector. And among those who did have a prescription, only about two-thirds had the device with them at the time of allergic reaction.

But the symptoms of anaphylaxis "occur suddenly and can progress quickly," senior study author Dr. David Stukus, an allergist at Nationwide Children's Hospital, said in a statement. "It's vital to keep your epinephrine with you if you suffer from any sort of severe allergy."

In fact, people with such allergies should also carry a second dose of the medicine, Stukus said. "When in doubt, administer [that second dose], too." 

The study was published July 12 in the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. 

MedPageToday: Many allergic kids who need epinephrine don’t get it

One in three prescribed an epinephrine injector didn't have it when needed

Only about one in three children with anaphylaxis presenting to a busy pediatric hospital emergency department (ED) or urgent care center (UCC) received epinephrine before arrival, even though the life-saving medication had been previously prescribed to about half of them, researchers report.

Just 50% of the children received epinephrine upon arrival for treatment, while about 65% had experienced a previous anaphylactic reaction, according to a retrospective review of medical records from Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

The review, published online in Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, included 408 cases of anaphylaxis treated at the hospital between 2009 and 2013.

The children and teens who received epinephrine prior to arrival at the hospital's ED or UCC were less likely to be treated with epinephrine once they arrived, and they were also more likely to be sent home without hospital admittance.

"Allergists want parents, caregivers, and emergency responders to know epinephrine should always be the first line of defense when treating anaphylaxis. Our study found that only two-thirds of those who had an epinephrine prescription had their auto-injector available at the time of their allergic reaction," the senior researcher, David Stukus, MD, of Nationwide Children's, said in a press statement.

He and his colleagues noted that despite guidelines calling for the use of epinephrine for anaphylaxis management, it is often not used as promptly as it should be or at all.

"Treatment with epinephrine is often delayed or avoided and may be substituted with other treatment options, such as antihistamines," the team wrote. "Survey research has shown poor understanding of indications for the use of epinephrine among families with food allergic children, school nurses, and emergency responders, likely contributing to the underuse of epinephrine before the arrival at the ED."

In an effort to better understand issues associated with anaphylaxis management before hospital ED or UCC arrival, the researchers performed a retrospective review of electronic medical records for all patients (age range of 0 to 25) presenting with anaphylaxis at the pediatric academic referral center between 2009 and 2013.

The mean age of the 408 patients included in the analysis was 7.25, and 62% were male. A total of 264 patients (64.7%) had a known history of prior anaphylactic reactions, and 195 (47.9%) had been previously prescribed self-injectable epinephrine before the event that brought them to the hospital.

Just over two-thirds (69.7%) of patients who had been previously prescribed epinephrine had access to it at the time of the event, and 86% of these patients received epinephrine before arrival at the ED or UCC.

Among the other findings:

  • The odds of receiving epinephrine before ED or UCC arrival were four times higher (OR, 3.9, 95% CI 1.7-8.9) among patients with multiple food allergies compared with those with single food allergies
  • Allergic reactions occurring at home were less likely to be treated with epinephrine before arrival than reactions occurring at school (OR, 0.29, 95% CI, 0.15-0.59)
  • Patients who did not receive epinephrine before arrival were significantly less likely to be discharged to home (OR, 0.56, 95% CI 0.37-0.86; P=0.01)

Most patients (92.6%) reported cutaneous symptoms (flushing, urticaria, angioedema), and three out of four (74.8%) had documentation of respiratory symptoms. Gastrointestinal symptoms were reported in 36%. The odds of receiving epinephrine before arrival at the ED or UCC were significantly lower when two or three organ systems were involved, compared with just one organ system.

"The reasons for this were beyond the scope of this study, and, admittedly, this is a very ominous and illogical finding, considering a marked campaign in recent years specifically identifying multi-organ system reactions and reactions beyond 'just hives' as prime indications for epinephrine administration," the researchers wrote.

They added that while the implications of the finding are not clear, it may reflect "regional preferences or advice for treatment, regional emergency medical services practices, or a failure at the patient level to simply implement anaphylaxis management plans."

The researchers concluded that studies examining barriers to anaphylaxis use are needed.

Tonic: More adults are waking up with brand new allergy symptoms

 

Jul 7 2017, 7:00am

Guess you're not done growing.

For the lucky majority of Americans who've never suffered from allergies, spring and summer are usually uncomplicated stretches of natural bliss. Unencumbered by watery eyes and runny noses, they get to frolic amongst blooming vegetation or tussle with the denizens of local dog parks with abandon. But every now and then, one of these smug adults will step outside, take a deep breath, and feel a wholly unexpected nasal irritation or a welling of tears for the first time in his or her life. 

As these unlucky few soon learn, adults can develop allergic symptomsat any time, even fairly late in life. No one knows for sure how many of us will fall victim to this unexpected pain in the ass, but the risk theoretically hovers over everyone, no matter how remote it may be. And some reports suggest the number of adults suddenly manifesting environmentally triggered sniffles could be on the rise. The reality that one could live life carefree one day and wake up the next in bleary fatigue is hard to contend with, especially when so few of us understand how or why these sudden latter-day allergic responses could be triggered. 

An estimated 30 to 40 percent of Americans will likely suffer from allergies at some point, most of them triggered by airborne irritants like pollen outside or pet dander or dust mites inside and only a comparative few of them triggered by foods. According to Stephen Tilles, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, these folks are born with a genetic predisposition for allergies, but then triggered when they're exposed to a specific allergen—although sometimes that trigger is dependent on additional, little-understood epigenetic triggers. These allergens, although factually harmless, lead prone immune systems to overreact, producing a glut of histamines that can cause irritation in localized areas, or in extreme causes lead to full-body reactions and life-threatening airway closures. Even mild allergies can still lead to real misery and temporary impairment. 

The vast majority of people develop allergies as children, when first exposed to triggering allergens. Some people's allergic responses might fluctuate through their teenage years as their bodies—namely their hormones—change rapidly. But Tilles says most people will have developed a stable allergic profile in their 20s. If they "haven't developed allergies by the time they're 30," he adds, "it's very unlikely they're going to [do so] later on." In fact some research actually suggests that as people age their allergies tend to decrease or vanish, although that is unfortunately due to the weakening of the immune system over time. 

Beyond this point, Tilles says, most people will only develop allergies if they make a major life change, like a move to a new region, that finally exposes them to a substance they've always been predisposed to have an allergic reaction to. It's also possible that people who haven't moved or encountered a new environment are just manifesting allergies they had when younger, but then went dormant for an oddly longer period of time (perhaps beyond the usual teenage years of hormonal flux) and were only reactivated by some mysterious trigger. 

It's also possible, some doctors speculate, for someone with perhaps a minor allergic inclination to undergo some health event that causes an upheaval in their immune system later in life that might suddenly make it newly sensitive to an allergen. This could be anything from pregnancy to an infection to a major and sickening stretch of stress. (These events may help explain why some people's latent and forgotten or previously minor childhood allergies surge back, too.) 

"We are still humble about this," Tilles says. "We'll still skin test for allergies in elderly patients who come in with new onset symptoms. But it's relatively rare for them to have proven allergic causes [for suffering] if they've never had any. It certainly can happen, but it's not common." 

It's far more common, Tilles says, for adults to develop non-allergic nasal allergy symptoms out of nowhere. Although indistinguishable symptomatically from allergies for patients, this issue, which Tilles says accounts for about a third of any allergist's patients, is triggered not by distinct allergens and the antibodies they conjure up but by general irritation. "There are sub-groups that are, for example, only triggered by barometric pressure changes," he explains, "and others that are only triggered by [broad] irritants or something like that. There are others that look like allergic inflammation, but we just can't determine that there's an allergen [at work]."

We do know, Tilles says, that smokers or workers in industrial jobs involving airborne irritants they aren't protected from are at increased risk of "non-allergic rhinitis," as allergists refer to this broad nasal irritation. It's also possible the same factors that re-trigger or newly awaken adult-onset allergies, or play a role in the emergence or development of childhood onset allergies, could trigger lifelong general sensitivity in people who aren't genetically disposed to outright allergies.

Beyond that, it's honestly a bit of a crapshoot who suffers when and who doesn't. Long story short, adult onset allergies aren't really a discrete thing. They're the murky common symptom of a ton of different possible exposures or exacerbations, many of which even the nation's foremost allergists only have a basic grasp on. For those wishing to avoid the unique pain of developing allergic symptoms late in life, that is not useful information. Unless one wants to build a bubble of environmental consistency and can somehow avoid major immune system shifts, the risk of waking up snuffling, fatigued, and miserable will always lurk in life.

But on the limited bright side, Tilles says, allergic symptoms are rarely dangerous. They do suck—massively. Still, there are a number of solid treatments available, many of them over the counter. Most treatments meant for allergies will be effective for non-allergic rhinitis as well. And most irritants can be avoided with a bit of planning. Managing irritant exposure risks and symptoms is far from ideal. We just have to deal with the realities of chaotic bodies as best we can.

Yahoo! Finance: 16 best dogs for allergy sufferers

16 Best Dogs for Allergy Sufferers

Joseph Gedeon and Cheyenne Buckingham

24/7 Wall St.

July 13, 2017

In case you haven't noticed, Americans love dogs! While recently putting together research for another 24/7 Wall St. story on dog popularity, we learned that 36.5% of Americans were part of a dog-loving household -- more than any other pet. But what happens when you start having allergies as soon as you get close to a playful pup?

Don’t worry, you’re not alone. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, nearly one out of every 10 Americans are allergic to dogs.

And while no dog is completely hypoallergenic, there are plenty of breeds that go well with allergy sufferers. In fact, most people are actually not allergic to dog fur. The dogs on this list are hypoallergenic because compared to other breeds, they produce less dander, a substance attached to pet hair that the American Kennel Club says causes most pet allergies in humans.

We even had a hypoallergenic dog take the international spotlight as a recent member of our highest elected office. Bo, who belongs to President Obama and his family, is a Portuguese water dog, one of the lovable breeds on the list. Find out which other dogs made the cut!

Methodology:

To identify which dog breeds are best suited for allergy sufferers, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the American Kennel Club’s verified list of hypoallergenic dogs. All information related to each breed’s personality, trainability, shedding, size, and life expectancy.

1. Bedlington terrier
> Size: 15-17.5 inches, 17-23 pounds
> Shedding: Infrequent
> Good with kids?: Better with supervision
> Trainability: Responds well
> Life expectancy: 11-16 years

This lamb-lookalike terrier is an energetic and graceful medium-sized dog that becomes a loyal member of the family. Although the Bedlington terrier requires weekly grooming, its distinctive, fleecy coat makes it a one-of-a-kind breed for owners who deal with allergies.

2. Bichon Frise
> Size: 9.5-11.5 inches, 12- 18 pounds
> Shedding: Infrequent
> Good with kids?: Yes
> Trainability: Responds well
> Life expectancy: 14-15 years

With a history of being pampered by French royalty, the Bichon Frise lives up to the English translation of its name: curly dog. This easily trained little dog is hypoallergenic, and rarely sheds. According to the American Kennel Club, the Bichon Frise makes a good companion for young children.

3. Chinese Crested
> Size: 11-13 inches, 8-12 pounds
> Shedding: Infrequent
> Good with kids?: Better with supervision
> Trainability: Responds well
> Life expectancy: 13-18 years

The Chinese Crested is a small dog with a big heart. These alert and affectionate dogs are said to be cat-like, enjoying sitting in high places, according to the AKC.

4. Coton de Tulear
> Size: 9-11 inches, 8-15 pounds
> Shedding: Seasonal
> Good with kids?: Yes
> Trainability: Responds well
> Life expectancy: 15-19 years

This small, active companion originating from Madagascar has all the right traits to fit in a hypoallergenic household. The Coton de Tulear sheds very little and is distinguished by its long, soft coat that grows up to four inches in adulthood.

5. Irish Water Spaniel
> Size: 21-24 inches, 45-68 pounds
> Shedding: Seasonal
> Good with kids?: Better with supervision
> Trainability: Eager to please
> Life expectancy: 12-13 years

This mop-headed dog helps shed the myth that hypoallergenic pets must be close to hairless. The tallest of all spaniels recognized by the AKC, the Irish Water Spaniel is a medium-to-large sized dog that is distinguished by its curly, waterproof coat. It has yet to become a popular household choice in the United States.

6. Kerry Blue Terrier
> Size: 17.5-19.5 inches, 33-40 pounds
> Shedding: Infrequent
> Good with kids?: Better with older children
> Trainability: Independent
> Life expectancy: 12-15 years

Although the Kerry Blue Terrier was originally bred to guard, herd, and hunt, this medium sized dog fits in well with apartment life. Intelligent and independent, the Kerry’s soft, wavy coat rarely sheds, making it a great hypoallergenic dog for any owner living in the city.

7. Maltese
> Size: 8-10 inches, 6-8 pounds
> Shedding: Infrequent
> Good with kids?: Better with older children
> Trainability: Responds well
> Life expectancy: 12-15 years

This elegant pooch has quite the hairdo. With a floor-length coat of silky white hair, the Maltese needs to be groomed often in order to avoid knotting. Despite their dainty appearance, they have a reputation for being courageous and perky.

8. Poodle
> Size: <10-15 inches, 4-50 pounds
> Shedding: Infrequent
> Good with kids?: Yes
> Trainability: Eager to please
> Life expectancy: 10-18 years

The Poodle is another dog breed that has to have an exceptionally groomed coat to look presentable. It is one of the only dogs that come in three sizes: standard, miniature, and toy. This proud pooch enjoys walking, running, and swimming, so if you’re the athletic type you may just want to invite your Poodle along for the workout!

9. Portuguese water dog
> Size: 17-23 inches, 35-60 pounds
> Shedding: Seasonal
> Good with kids?: Yes
> Trainability: Eager to please
> Life expectancy: 11-13 years

Hailing from Portugal, the Portuguese water dog has a distinctive appearance. Described as medium sized and robust by the AKC, this breed has an advantage above the other water-loving pups -- a waterproof coat. Easily the most well-known of the breed is former “first dog” Bo, who belongs to President Obama and his family. Malia, President Obama’s daughter, is allergic to dogs, which led to Bo’s “appointment.”

10. Standard Schnauzer
> Size: 17.5-19.5 inches, 30-50 pounds
> Shedding: Infrequent
> Good with kids?: Yes
> Trainability: Responds well
> Life expectancy: 13-16 years

This dog rarely sheds, which is why it’s such a great candidate for someone who suffers from allergies. Just like any of the three types of Schnauzers, this breed has a wiry, tight-fitting coat that keeps debris off. What’s dug up outside, stays outside.

11. Giant Schnauzer
> Size: 23.5-27.5 inches, 55-85 pounds
> Shedding: Seasonal
> Good with kids?: Better with supervision
> Trainability: Eager to please
> Life expectancy: 12-15 years

This powerful, imposing dog is essentially the Schnauzer 2.0. With a dense outer coat, the Giant Schnauzer is built for work and is suited for an active owner seeking a hypoallergenic partner in adventure.

12. Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
> Size: 17-19 inches, 30-40 pounds
> Shedding: Non-shedding
> Good with kids?: Better with supervision
> Trainability: Eager to please
> Life expectancy: 12-14 years

Whether at home or in the field, the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is a playful companion from pup well into old age. The aptly-named happy and friendly breed is set apart from other terriers by its soft and silky coat.

13. Xoloitzcuintli
> Size: 10-23 inches, 10-55 pounds
> Shedding: Infrequent
> Good with kids?: Better with supervision
> Trainability: Responds well
> Life expectancy: 13-18 years

Can you even pronounce this dog’s name? According to the AKC, the Xoloitzcuintli is one of the world's oldest and rarest breeds. The name comes from the Aztec god Xolotl, and the Aztec word for dog, Itzcuintli. In remote Mexican and Central American villages, these dog were used to ward off and cure ailments such as asthma and insomnia, establishing their reputation as healers.

14. American Hairless Terrier
> Size: 12-16 inches, 12-16 pounds
> Shedding: Infrequent
> Good with kids?: Yes
> Trainability: Eager to please
> Life expectancy: 14-16 years

It’s no wonder why this pooch is hypoallergenic -- it’s hairless! Not only are American Hairless Terriers suitable companions for those with allergies, but they also train easily and get along with other pets in the household. In other words, you most likely won’t have to pawn off your kitty when you introduce this pup to your home.

15. Lagotto Romagnolo
> Size: 16-19 inches, 24-35 pounds
> Shedding: Infrequent
> Good with kids?: Better with supervision
> Trainability: Eager to please
> Life expectancy: 15-17 years

This curious and rather odd looking dog has an affectionate personality, which means this breed is a great contender for a cuddle sesh. The Lagotto Romagnolo is an ancient breed that originated in Italy and its fur is quite similar to that of the Portuguese Water Dog.

16. Afghan Hound
> Size: 25-27 inches, 50-60 pounds
> Shedding: Infrequent
> Good with kids?: Better with supervision
> Trainability: Independent
> Life expectancy: 12-18 years

It’s no question that the Afghan Hound has a gorgeous coat. The dog’s thick, flowy coat served as protection from harsh climates in the mountainous regions of Afghanistan. The Afghan Hounds also have huge paw pads that act as shock absorbers, another physical attribute they developed over time due to the arduous terrain.

Refinery29: 5 things to know before your first skin allergy test

SARAH JACOBY

JUNE 1, 2017, 2:20 PM

Maybe it's the phrase "skin prick" or the pictures of huge, angry red weltscovering people's backs. Whatever it is, something gets us really worked up about skin allergy tests. But experts want us to know: It's time to take down our skin test anxiety a few notches.

"Most people are way more worried about this than they need to be — it's just not that big a deal," says J. Allen Meadows, MD, chair of the advocacy council of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. In reality, the testing itself takes up a fraction of your appointment time and, in most cases, you don't need to worry about a scary allergic reaction.

Before you even get to the test, Dr. Meadows says your allergist will go through an extensive consultation to figure out the best plan of attack (allergy tests aren't one-size-fits-all). That initial chat will probably cover what you think you might be allergic to, how likely it is for you to come into contact with those allergens, where on your body the testing should take place, and whether or not you're already on an allergy treatment plan.

If you're really nervous about the test, your allergist can also use this time to show you what it looks like. "I demonstrate it on my arm," Dr. Meadows says. "And when people see what it actually looks like, it's a relief. They're pleased to see there's no needle involved."

So what does happen? Essentially, your allergist will decide on a bunch of allergens (up to 40) to test out. Then you'll be turned over to a technician who will actually administer the test. That person will put marks on your skin (usually your forearm or back) to keep track of what's being tested. Then she'll use a plastic scratcher to apply just a little bit of each allergen to that area. It may feel weird, but it won't be painful — it's more like scratching an itch than getting a shot.

After letting the allergens sit on your skin for about 15 minutes so your body has time to react, your allergist will interpret your results and help you figure out what needs to happen next.

If you're getting tested for a potential drug or insect allergy or your initial skin test was unclear, that might include further testing that actually goes under your skin (in other words: an injection), explains Dr. Meadows. Those who have skin conditions or take medications that interfere with skin testing may instead get a blood allergy test, meaning you'll have your blood drawn and it'll be tested in a lab. But for most patients, skin prick testing is all it takes to figure out the next course of action.

Ahead, learn more from Dr. Meadows about how to prepare for your test and what you can really expect to happen.

 

Bustle: 7 hygiene habits that are actually dangerous that everyone should stop doing

ByCARINA WOLFF

Some habits like showering or washing your bedsheets have obvious health benefits when it comes to good hygiene. We tend to assume that all hygiene habits help make us cleaner and healthier, but there are a number of hygiene habits that are actually pretty dangerous. Sometimes when trying to stay clean, we actually end up harming our bodies or exposing ourselves to more germs. These habits might come as a surprise, but with so much misinformation on the internet, there are a number of practices that become increasingly popular but that aren't actually good for you.

"There is an overwhelmingly continuous outpouring of hygiene info that we may receive from family, friends, colleagues, and other sources," says Nesochi Okeke-Igbokwe, M.D., M.S. over email. "Sometimes it can be truly confusing to determine what is accurate and inaccurate health information. Nonetheless, it is so important to be aware of the hygiene habits that are indeed healthy and the others that are potentially dangerous in order to avoid health problems."

Even though it might feel weird to ditch these habits, it's for the best, especially if you're trying to protect your health in the first place. Here are seven hygiene habits that are actually quite dangerous,

1 Long Hot Showers

Many people mistakenly believe that taking a very long and hot shower is good for the skin. "When you shower with extremely hot water, this can actually have a serious drying effect on the skin," says Okeke-Igbokwe. "There are natural oils the skin produces to help it retain moisture, and repeatedly using very hot water or showering for extended periods of time may actually be a detriment to the skin. It can essentially remove many of those oils naturally produced and contribute to rough, dry, and sometimes even irritated skin."

 

2 Using Fragrance Sprays After Going To The Bathroom

Spraying a room with a nice scent can seem more hygienic than letting an unpleasant smell linger in the air, but these sprays can actually be quite dangerous for our health. "The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology warns that many common home fragrance products contain pollutants, which can increase the risk of asthma, trigger eye and respiratory tract irritation, headaches, dizziness, and even memory impairment," says Rachel Delia, co-founder of Flask Natural Products, over email. "Making a switch to an all-natural fragrance spray is a quick and effective healthy swap."

 

 

3 Cleaning Your Ears

Most of us were taught growing up to clean our ears with q-tips, but it turns out, it's totally unnecessary — and can actually be very dangerous. "It’s unfortunate that ear wax is brown because people assume it’s dirty," says HealthPartners otolaryngology physician Christopher Hilton, MD over email. "But it’s actually healthy and good for us. It kills bacteria and lubricates our ear canals. Ear wax prevents bacteria from causing ear infections." Although you might get some ear wax out with a q-tip, the majority of the wax is actually pushed deeper into your ear canal. This can lead to a vicious cycle of feeling like your ears are dirty, using q-tips, and pushing more wax deeper in your ears.

 

4 Aggressive Tooth Brushing

"Aggressive tooth brushing, especially coupled with an abrasive toothpaste, like most whitening toothpastes, can wear away gum and tooth structure, leading to various dental problems," says dentist Dr. Steven D. Cook over email. "Many people don’t know that they are brushing too hard, potentially causing irreversible damage to their teeth by brushing away the enamel. It can also cause the gums to recede.

 

5 Douching

Douching not only ups your risk of infections like bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections, but it can also complicate pregnancies and increase your risk of pelvic inflammatory disease, according to WomensHealth.gov. It also increases your exposure to chemicals called phthalates, which can be absorbed through the vaginal walls and lead to reproductive problems down the line, according to research published in the journal Environmental Health.

 

 

6 Using An Air Dryer

Most of us use air dryers after we've washed our hands instead of using paper towels, if the option is available to us. However, paper towels are actually much more sanitary. Multiple studies have found that paper towels remove more bacteria than air dryers, so you might want to choose to wipe your hands rather than dry them.

 

6 Plucking Nose Hairs

No one likes stragglers, but you should proceed with caution before plucking out any nose hairs. Getting rid of unwanted hairs can expose hair follicles to bacteria, which could make you sick, according to Dr. Mehmet Oz in a video on Sharecare. Not only that, but nose hairs help prevent you from inhaling dust and particles.

 

7 Leaving Your Dishes To Soak

Leaving your dishes to soak in the sink might seem like it would make them cleaner, but it could actually be a breeding ground for bacteria. Research from the University of Arizona has found that the kitchen sink contains more E. coli than a toilet after flushing it.  Soaking pots and pans can also act as a breeding ground for for E. coli or salmonella, according to  research from Long Island College Hospital of Brooklyn, New York.

Cincinnati Enquirer: 4 ways to manage your springtime asthma

Sandy Weiskittel

9:26 p.m. ET May 28, 2017

If you’re one of the 25 million Americans who suffer from asthma, the allergens of spring can make it difficult to breathe.

Asthma is a chronic condition in which the airways of the lungs become inflamed and narrow, often due to one or more triggers in the environment. Up to 80 percent of children and half of adults with asthma experience attacks when they come in contact with specific allergens.

During the spring, tree pollens, mold spores and grass all have the power to inflame and narrow the air passages of people who are sensitive to these natural triggers. Wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness and coughing are some of the common symptoms that occur during an asthma attack.

Among the most common triggers for asthma are:

• Outdoor allergens

• Indoor allergens, including pets, dust mites and smoke

• Cold air

• Exercise

• Reflux disease (heartburn or acid indigestion)

Make a Plan to Manage Your Asthma

“It’s important to recognize what your triggers are,” says Jeff Raub, MD, allergist and immunologist with TriHealth. “Then you can create a plan of action with your health provider. I’ve lived with asthma for 36 years, so I know how important it is to develop habits that will help you breathe better and make physical activities more enjoyable.”

Here are some tips he offers for managing asthma in the spring or anytime:

1. Take a preventative stance.

If you’re especially sensitive to springtime allergens, use air conditioning in the house and car to limit your exposure. If you’ve been outdoors, wash your hair and clothes when you get home to get rid of those allergens. Clear your nasal passages with a neti pot or other nasal irrigation method. Indoors, try to clear your house of allergens that trigger you.

2. Ask your doctor about effective medicines.

If you know you have allergies, over-the-counter antihistamines and nasal sprays will help minimize your allergic reaction. “Start your allergy medicines a week or two before allergens are due to come out,” counsels Dr. Raub. He also recommends prescription medicines like Singulair — with your doctor’s consent — to prevent both asthma and allergy attacks.

3. Be familiar with your inhaler.

For those times when you can’t breathe, knowing where your inhaler is, how much medicine it contains and how to use it properly can greatly relieve your breathing distress. “Using your inhaler properly is really important for getting the medicine into your lungs,” Dr. Raub says. “If you’re not sure how to use it, ask your doctor or pharmacist.”

Common sense guidelines for optimal inhaler use include:

• Shake the canister for 10 seconds and take off the cap.

• Attach a spacer device to the inhaler to get more medicine into your lungs.

• Take a slow, deep breath just after you press down on the canister and inhale through your mouth, not your nose. Hold your breath for 10 seconds. After 30 seconds, repeat with a second puff and a third, if needed.

Know when to seek medical attention.

If you’re using two to three puffs of inhaler medicine every 10 to 15 minutes and are still struggling to breathe, seek immediate medical attention. “Despite all of the medicines we have available, 3,000 people die each year from asthma,” Dr. Raub says. “Don’t wait to get help.”

For additional information on asthma and its treatment, Dr. Raub recommends the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, acaai.org, and the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, aaaai.org. Or visit TriHealth Allergy and Immunology for further information.

If you want more health stories like this, subscribe to DailyHealthWire or connect with TriHealth: Twitter / Facebook

Martha Stewart: Allergic to animals? 3 easy steps to combat it once and for all

May 23, 2017

By Evelyn Battaglia

Here's a plan to help you sneeze less and enjoy them more.

 

Many of us grow up knowing that dogs or cats make our eyes watery, our throats scratchy, our noses runny. But the telltale signs of a pet allergy can show up later in life, too. Or we may not connect the dots until we adopt one of our own. According to Janna Tuck, an allergist in Cape Girar­deau, Missouri, and a spokesper­son for the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, about 10 percent of people have a reaction to dogs or cats (and it’s the dander, saliva, or urine in their hair that we react to, not the hair itself). If you suspect you're among them, don't worry — unless your case is extremely severe, there are ways you can coexist with a furry friend. Tackle your symptoms one step at a time to find a strategy that works.

1. First, see an allergist

You may think it's not such a big deal if you wheeze whenever you give your pup a good brushing, or if you break out in a rash after a kitty curls up in your lap. But it's a good idea to see an expert, who can do some tests (either pricking your skin with about 40 immune­ response­triggering substances or drawing blood to look for antibodies) to pinpoint exactly what's causing your reaction. It might be something other than an animal. "About 30 percent of patients tested end up with pet allergies," says Tuck. "The rest are allergic to dust mites, pollen, mold, or other allergens." Even if the tests show your suspicions were correct, that doesn't mean you should never get near another little creature: "It just points to a bigger risk of being sensitive or allergic," says New York City immunologist Dean Mitchell. For instance, a person with a high score might react more strongly to one breed than to others, or even to one specific dog.

2. Next, clear the air at home

Tuck estimates that 80 percent of her patients figure out how to live with their allergy­causing animals. "It entails reducing the allergen load as much as you can," she says. Some pointers: Make your bedroom off ­limits, and keep the door shut. (Sorry, no fuzzy foot warmers on the bed.) Frequently change your HVAC air filters, and use a HEPA­-equipped vacuum and air purifier, especially in rooms where your dog or cat spends a lot of time. At least once a week, dust furniture and hard surfaces (including walls and ceilings) and launder your bedding; tackle curtains, rugs, slipcovers, and pet beds and toys as often as you can. Brush your four­legged companion outside with a deshed­ ding tool weekly, wearing a mask or enlisting help if you need to, and then give her a bath.

3. Last, manage your symptoms

Over­ the ­counter medications can take care of mild itchiness and congestion, and help you visit other homes with animals. (Tuck says nasal sprays, like Flonase and Afrin, work especially well, though some shouldn't be used daily.) If that doesn't cut it, your doctor may prescribe immuno­therapy, which builds up your tolerance to an allergen by expos­ing you to it in tiny, controlled increments over time, via doctor­ administered shots or at­home drops. "We aim to get your body to do the right thing instead of having an allergic response," ex­plains Tuck. Both methods have pros and cons. There's a very small chance you could have a severe reaction to the weekly shots — thus the required office vis­its — but they're effective, Tuck says, and they're covered by insurance. The daily drops or tab­ lets aren't; they can cost up to $1.50 per dose. But they're conve­nient, since all you have to do is let them dissolve under your tongue, and they work well, says Mitchell, who's used them to treat patients successfully for the past 16 years.

Whichever treat­ment you choose, know that it won't go on forever — and will most likely have a happy ending. Your allergist will monitor and adjust your dosage until you're ready to stop, usually after three to five years, though Mitchell has seen results in as few as two. That's a mere blip compared with a lifetime of puppy or kitty love.

Fact or Fiction: Hypoallergenic Pets

The truth about cats and dogs: "No pet is 100 percent hypoallergenic, but there are breeds that allergy sufferers tend to do well with," says Brandi Hunter, vice president of PR for the American Kennel Club. Good canine options include bichons frisés, Brussels griffons, Malteses, poodles, Portuguese water dogs, schnauzers, and soft-coated wheaten terriers. Consider cats with a short, tight coat, like Bengals (above), Cornish and Devon rexes, Oriental shorthairs, and sphynxes. To be safe, visit an animal for several hours to test for potential sensitivities before you bring her home.

 

Miami Herald: Your kids could have an allergy you don’t know about

BY TERESA WELSH

twelsh@mcclatchy.com

It’s that time of year where seasonal allergies strike with runny noses, itchy eyes and scratchy throats. But those who suffer from pollen allergies can also have other hidden allergies to fruits and vegetables they may never have known about.

Seasonal allergy sufferers, like those with asthma and hay fever, can also have oral allergy syndrome, known as OAS. People with the condition experience tingling or itching when they eat certain raw foods, indicating an allergic reaction to some fruits and vegetables. Symptoms include itching or swelling in the mouth and throat and on the tongue and lips.

“Oral allergy syndrome is due to a cross-reactivity between plant proteins from pollen and fruits or vegetables,” the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia reports. “When a child or adult with pollen allergy eats a raw fruit or vegetable, the immune system sees the similarity and causes an allergic reaction.”

Foods in the same botanical family can cause reactions. The following pollen allergies can trigger certain cross-reactions:

Ragweed: Bananas, melons (watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew) zucchini, cucumber, dandelions, chamomile tea

Birch: Apples, pears, peaches, apricots, cherries, plums, nectarines, prunes, kiwi, carrots, celery, potatoes, peppers, fennel, parsley, coriander, parsnips, hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts

Grass: Peaches, celery, melons, tomatoes, oranges

Mugwort: Celery, apple, kiwi, peanut, fennel, carrots, parsley, coriander, sunflower, peppers

Alder: Celery, pears, apples, almonds, cherries, hazelnuts, peaches, parsley

Latex: Bananas, avocado, kiwi, chestnut, papaya

Both children and adults are susceptible to the condition, although the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia says adults can be more affected.

Symptoms can be eliminated by cooking or baking foods that cause a reaction, or eating canned fruits or vegetables. Oral antihistamines like those taken to relieve seasonal allergy symptoms can also ease reactions.

Symptoms don’t usually spread beyond the mouth, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, but the condition could become systemic. In one study, 9 perecent of those with OAS experienced more drastic allergy symptoms, and 1.7 percent ha anaphylactic shock.