- Created on 03 October 2013
Cocaine may not only rewire the brain after one use, but could also increase users' susceptibility to HIV, a new study suggests.
- Created on 02 October 2013
Summer's over and you may find yourself falling into some serious allergy symptoms. Sneezing? Runny nose? Itchy eyes? Fall allergy triggers are different, but they can cause just as many symptoms as you have in spring and summer.
What Causes Fall Allergies?
Ragweed is the biggest allergy trigger in the fall. Though the yellow-flowering weed usually starts releasing pollen in August, it can last into September and October. About three-quarters of people who are allergic to spring plants are also allergic to ragweed.
Ragweed pollen loves to get around. Even if it doesn't grow where you live, it can still travel for hundreds of miles on the wind. For some people who are allergic to ragweed, foods like bananas, melon, zucchini, and certain other fruits and vegetables can also cause symptoms.
Mold is another fall trigger. You may think of mold growing in your basement or bathroom – damp areas in the house – but mold spores also love wet spots outside. Piles of damp leaves are ideal breeding grounds for mold.
Don't forget dust mites. While they are common during the humid summer months, they can get stirred into the air the first time you turn on your heat in the fall. Dust mites can trigger sneezes, wheezes, and runny noses.
Going back to school can also trigger allergies in kids because mold and dust mites are common in schools.
What Are the Symptoms?
Itchy eyes and nose
Dark circles under the eyes
How Are Fall Allergies Diagnosed?
Your doctor or allergist can help find out exactly what's causing your watery, itchy eyes and runny nose. He'll talk to you about your medical history and symptoms, and may recommend a skin test.
With a skin test, the doctor places a tiny amount of the allergen on your skin — usually on your back or forearm — and then pricks or scratches the skin underneath. If you're allergic to it, you'll get a small, raised bump that itches like a mosquito bite.
Sometimes a blood test may be used to diagnose allergies.
How Can I Treat My Allergies?
There are many medications you can use:
Prescription nasal spray – reduce inflammation in your nose
Antihistamines – help stop sneezing, sniffling, and itching
Decongestants – help clear mucus out of your nose
Antihistamine eye drops
Allergy shots – take longer to work but also reduce symptoms for longer
You can buy some allergy medications without a prescription, but it's a good idea to talk to your doctor to make sure you choose the right one. Decongestant nasal sprays, for example, should only be used for three days. If you use them longer, you may actually get more congested. And if you have high blood pressure, some allergy drugs may not be right for you.
Tips to Manage Symptoms
Stay indoors with the doors and windows closed when pollen is at its peak (usually in the mornings). Check pollen counts in your area.
Before you turn on your heat for the first time, clean your heating vents and change the filter. Bits of mold and other allergens can get trapped in the vents over the summer and will fill the air as soon as you start the furnace.
Use a HEPA filter in your heating system to remove pollen, mold, and other particles from the air.
Use a humidifier if you need to, to keep your air at between 35% and 50% humidity.
Wear a mask when you rake leaves so you don't breathe in mold spores.
- Created on 30 September 2013
- Created on 30 September 2013
If you have any concerns about your heart-health and Obamacare, there's no need to worry. The good news is that under the Affordable Care Act, most health plans will offer you access to free tests for conditions that lead to heart disease. You'll also likely have free preventive services to help you focus on making your everyday habits heart-healthy, too.
Free Heart Disease Tests
With most health insurance plans, you can receive free tests for these conditions without having to pay a copay, coinsurance, or even a deductible — but the tests are used to help find conditions early, before you have symptoms.
1. High blood pressure. You have to have your blood pressure checked to know if it's high. You can't always feel high blood pressure.
2. High cholesterol. With a small sample of your blood, your doctor can check your good cholesterol called HDL and your bad cholesterol, called LDL.
3. Obesity. Being overweight increases your chance for having high blood pressure and diabetes — and both of those raise your risk for heart disease. After your doctor checks your weight, he or she can direct you to free preventive services.
Free Preventive Care Services for Your Heart
Having your blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight checked routinely is the first part of preventive heart care. You can also use free services from your health plan to improve habits that affect your chances of getting heart disease.
Talk with your doctor about whether you need a daily aspirin. Taking a low-dose aspirin each day can help prevent a second heart attack and cut your risk of stroke.
Nutrition counseling. What you eat affects your risk of heart disease. Free counseling can help you choose heart-healthy foods more often.
Obesity counseling. If your weight is raising your risk of heart disease, counseling may help you lose and manage weight and lower your risk. If you are overweight or obese, even losing 10 pounds can lower your chance of developing heart disease.Your doctor can tell you about different ways to lose weight, such as a weight loss plan with personalized counseling. A plan could involve setting weight loss goals, improving your diet, and increasing physical activity.
Tobacco use. Your doctor can help you develop a plan for quitting, or guide you to someone who can. A solid quit-plan can include strategies to handle cravings, medication, getting support from family and friends, and exercise.
Who Can Get Free Preventive Care?
All health insurance companies must cover these services as part of their essential health benefits. The exception is the so-called grandfathered plans, which are health plans that existed before March 2010 and that have made minimal changes to their benefits.
Check your health plan's summary of benefits to see if you can get free preventive-care services. If you're not sure, call your insurance company or ask your employer's human resources department if you're enrolled in the heath plan through work.
Is It Worth It to Get These Services?
Heart disease refers to several types of heart conditions. The most common type in the United States is coronary artery disease, which is also called coronary heart disease. This condition happens when the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle become hardened and narrowed due to the buildup of plaque. It can cause a heart attack, severe chest pain, heart failure, and irregular heartbeat.
In the U.S., coronary artery disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. More than 400,000 Americans die from the disease each year.
Taking the step to be checked and striving to make lifestyle changes can help keep you from getting heart disease.