Major Allergy Myths You Fell For

With all of the hype, sometimes, facts get lost in the fray of things. Take for example Bo Obama. He’s not a hypoallergenic dog. Sure, some dogs do have hair rather than fur, but they can still have the dander that can cause allergies for some people. Likewise, there is no allergy to gluten. Celiac disease is something else entirely. A presentation given at the annual meeting of the American college of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology looks to bust these myths and bring science back into the picture.

After years of dealing with patients who hold fiercely to beliefs that are just wrong about allergies, Dr David Stukus put this presentation together in hopes of fighting Dr Google. Stukus said, It was shocking to me, the amount of misinformation that is available to the general public. He is an allergist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and assistant professor of pediatrics at Ohio State University.

  1. If you are allergic to dogs or cats, you should get a hypoallergenic breed

    There is no such thing as a totally hypoallergenic pet. According to Stukus, every single pet will secrete allergens. Long hair doesn’t make a difference as the dander doesn’t actually come from the fur. It comes from saliva, sweat glands, and urine.

    For the real animal lovers, there’s good news. You may be more sensitive to some breeds than others. The only way to tell is by spending time around different breeds. You can tell and go from there. Stukus has instructed his patients to literally rub their faces on the animal.

  2. There is no such thing as a gluten allergy/sensitivity

    There is no such thing as an allergy to gluten, despite all of the people who insist that they are sensitive to gluten and need gluten free foods. Unless you have Celiac disease, you realistically shouldn’t worry about it.

    Stukus says, Gluten has been blamed for all that ails humanity. Celiac disease and wheat allergies would be real. Stukus says, Then there’s this claim about gluten allergy, which doesn’t really exist. It’s not really a recognized allergy. Wheat is a recognized allergy – but a lot of people will misinterpret that as gluten.

  3. Black mold can cause some serious diseases

    If you Google black mold, you will find that it has been linked to a lot of different issues like seizures, fibromyalgia, bipolar disorder, and even cancer. Stukus clarifies though, This has been attributed to cause all kinds of ailments, but there is absolutely no scientific link of a causal disorder to black mold to any of these disorders. The most black mold is likely to do is realistically to cause allergic rhinitis and asthma, assuming you’re allergic to black mold in the first place.

  4. You shouldn’t get flu shots if you have an egg allergy

    This has hit the fans. Allergists can understand where it comes from to a certain degree. Egg embryos from chickens are used to grow the viruses in vaccines for influenza, rabies, yellow fever, and MMR. However, while the small amount of egg protein that could be in the vaccines sounds concerning to parents, it’s unlikely to have a serious effect.

    It is only if a person has a history of severe anaphylaxis associated with eating eggs that you should be concerned. Even with severe reactions that do not include anaphylaxis, the vaccine is still most likely safe. However, they recommend seeing an allergist before you get a flu shot. There are currently egg free vaccines offered. MMR is safe for anyone with a history of egg allergies, but rabies and yellow fever are currently not.

  5. No milk til age 1, no eggs til age 2, and no nuts til age 3

    Food allergies are scary, and you don’t want to be facing an emergency, I understand. There are some kids who do better when mom doesn’t eat dairy products, and nuts are one of the most common food allergies. However, this is old information that has stayed around despite evidence to the contrary.

    There is no evidence to support the idea that you should avoid these foods in children past 4 to 6 months of age. In the allergy community, the stance has sort of reversed 180 degrees. We used to think avoidance reduced allegies; now, we think early introduction leads to tolerance.

Stukus recommends, Use the Internet for guidance, but don’t rely on it as your sole source of health information. It’s a great place to formulate questions that you can take to physicians.

Diabetics At Lower Risk Of Heart Attacks

While diabetes comes with so many risks it could make your head spin, there is good news. Yes, it’s something that is still associated with obesity, and we still want to get it under control to avoid complications as severe as death and amputations. The risk of heart attacks, strokes, and other heart complications and complications of diabetes are actually on their way out!

In the last 2 decades, the rates of heart disease and stroke fell among diabetics by more than 60% according to a new federal study. The studies have also shown that there has been a significant decline in the rates of diabetes related kidney failure and amputations to go with it. This seems mainly associated with better screening services and medical care, meaning early intervention and better care in general. Interestingly, this has happened while the rates of diabetes have more than tripled.

Dr John Buse, a University of North Carolina diabetes specialist says, It is great news. The prognosis for folks with diabetes has improved dramatically over the last two decades, at least for those with good access to care.

While there are those suffering purely hereditary forms of diabetes, some of which don’t respond 100% to diet and exercise, the most common type is related to obesity. This year, about 1 in 10 US adults has diabetes, and it has become the nation’s 7th leading cause of death according to the CDC. When obese, you are at a higher risk of heart attacks and strokes, but diabetics seem to have narrower blood vessels, which can lead to these types of heart problems in the future.

In the 90′s, there were key studies that showed diabetics could control their disease blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol with healthy diet and exercise and medical intervention. Researchers have found that people can keep the risk of vision, heart problems, amputations, and other complications of diabetes under control. They are not always inevitable as we might think.

Insurance programs have been extensively expanded to cover things like blood sugar monitors and other diabetes treatments. More diabetics are also being diagnosed earlier and with milder forms. Even with higher rates of diabetes overall, the rate of hospitalization fell from 140,000 to 136,000 along with many other positive signs for those living with diabetes.

Herbs That Can Damage Your Liver

There are plenty of studies that supposedly show that herbs keep us young, heal our hearts, help us to lose weight, and there are some bold companies who have gotten sued and paid millions for claims about curing or even warding off cancer. The problem is that anything can go too far, and in excessive amounts, comfrey for example could actually send you to the hospital, which is why it’s no longer sold in the US. Even excessive amounts of green tea can do some damage to the liver.

This has been a significant enough problem that the American College of Gastroenterology has cautioned consumers specifically about too many natural or herbal products. They caution against the all too common idea that natural products are naturally safer than prescriptions, which just isn’t always true. In fact, according to Dr Herbert Bonkovsky of the Carolinas HealthCare Systems in Charlotte, they’re often not.

Bonkovsky says, Currently, there is not actually very much effective oversight. It’s pretty much up to the manufacturer of these supplements to guarantee what’s actually in there. This could mean companies using much more than the safe dose of a natural ingredient, or it could mean using undisclosed prescriptions or other illegal ingredients. Recently, a number of companies were fined and punished for including the discontinued prescription sibutramine and phenolphthalein, a laxative that was pulled for its potential to cause cancer. The American College of Gastroenterology specifically warns about 5 herbs:

  1. Green Tea

    Green tea is widely seen as a healthy way to boost your metabolism and lose weight. In fact, there are some who recommend 8 cups a day, which is fine. However, the extracts that you get in supplements are concentrated formulas with catechins. Experts now say that catechins can deplete some of the protective molecules in cells such as glutathione that are there to protect us from injury. A high dose of green tea extract can lead in susceptible persons to actually quite severe and even fatal liver injury according to Bonkovsky.

    He continues, We don’t really fully understand the basis for the susceptibility, but it seems likely to be a combination of genetic factors…but also maybe related to their diets, to whether or not they have been drinking alcohol. The FDA has rejected a number of the health claims made by companies trying to push green tea products.

  2. Comfrey

    Technically, this is not supposed to be sold in the US anyway, but it has a toxic substance called pyrrolizidine alkaloids that can actually damage your liver. It can even be fatal. Comfrey is not supposed to be sold in the US, except in creams or ointments. But even in this form, I would be careful at the very least.

  3. Kava Kava

    This particular herb comes from the Polynesian islands, and it’s typically thought of as their way to get drunk essentially. There are some religious kids who use it because it’s not technically alcohol, and they can get the same effect, liver damage and all. It has been used to treat anxiety and insomnia, but it is banned in Germany, Switzerland, France, Canada, and Britain due to the effects on the liver.

  4. Skullcap

    Traditionally used by Native Americans, skullcap has uses for anxiety, stress, and insomnia. Chinese skullcap is a different species, but both have been tied to potential liver damage. This is often used in products with multiple herbs. So it may be combinations that actually do the real damage, but it’s definitely something to keep an eye out for.

  5. Chaparral

    An extract of the creosote bush, chaparral is believed to help people with everything from skin rashes all the way up to cancer, though of course I would be very careful about the cancer idea. It is suspected to cause liver damage due to a compound called NDGA, and it may be related to an allergic or immune reaction to the substance as well. However, the cases have been severe enough to lead to emergency liver transplants.

Healthy Habits That Are Easy To Learn

It’s just too hard.

That’s what it comes down to for many. They don’t have enough time, it’s too hard, basically a lot of excuses for things that are hard to learn yes, but at the same time, they’re worth it. Not facing serious and unnecessary health problems in old age, being there for your grandchildren, those are all worth a little of your time to change, to pack your lunch the night before instead of eating fast food, to park a little bit further away.

Yes, ideally you will be making some significant changes to be healthier, but here are a few easier things to get you started. It may just boost your confidence to get you off on the right start:

  • Take 5 Deep Breaths At The Start Of Your Day

    Just stop for a moment at your door, or even if you’re in the car before turning the ignition. Take 5 deep breaths says Elizabeth Lombardo PhD, a psychologist in Chicago who has written the soon to be released Better Than Perfect: 7 Strategies To Crush Your Inner Critic And Creating The Life You Love. According to Lombardo, This helps reduce stress, which contributes to or causes over 90% of illness.

  • Take Your Supplements When Brushing Your Teeth

    Have you forgotten to take your vitamins on a regular basis? If you keep your daily vitamins next to your toothbrush, you can add another habit. You’re used to brushing your teeth in the morning hopefully. Just add one more step.

  • Get Your Lucky Workout Clothes Ready The Night Before

    The workout clothes that make you feel good will get you off to the best start, and you want to take as much work out of it in the morning as possible according to Tom Holland, exercise physiologist in New York and author. Skip the unflattering, oversized tee-shirt and baggy shorts and find clothes that both flatter your body and enable you to move you around according to your activity. Get them ready the night before, and then you are ready to go.

  • Claim Your Spot In Your Gym Class Or On The Floor

    Determine your favorite gym class and find a spot that you can make yours. You can hear the gym clearly, be in a good light, get a view of the rest of the gym that you like. Choose a spot that is comfortable for you to remove the little things that may stand in your way.

  • Have Cocoa Every Morning

    This is a treat, and a nice one. Put a canister of cocoa next to your coffee pot and stir it into your morning coffee according to Florida physician and nutritionist and author of The 30 Day Tune Up Dr. Steven Masley. You can get your caffeine, get healthy antioxidants, and improve blood flow to your heart and brain for better heart health.

  • Stand Up Whenever The Phone Rings

    Immediately stand up and walk around whenever the phone rings. When you sit for long periods of time, just 30 to 60 minutes, this drops your calorie burning, meaning that you will be accumulating more fat. That’s even with regular exercise. So stand up and move around and control your waistline.

  • Use Your Dental Floss In The Shower

    It’s all about multitasking here. If you clean your mouth along with the rest of your body, it’s one more thing out of the way. Brush your teeth and floss in the shower, and let the shower head help you to get rid of bacteria. A hand sprayer works as a water pick, and removes bacteria from the teeth, according to Dr. Jacquie Fulop-Goodling, a New York orthodontist.

Dump Your Toxic Friendships

Most people have at least one toxic friend. Even if you don’t have one now, you’ve had at least one in the past. Unfortunately, it seems to be a rite of passage in a way. It could be a nasty friend, coworker, or a hateful relative you just feel obligated into spending time with, or at least not dumping. Unfortunately, those people causing the bad relationships that you dread can actually be harmful to you. According to recent research, stressful social interactions can contribute to increased risk of high blood pressure in women.

Study co-author Sheldon Rodlescia Sneed PhD from Carnegie Mellon University says, What we observed was as the amount of negativity in relationships increased, risk of hypertension in women also increased.

The study authors Sneed, Sheldon Cohen, and Robert E Doherty, University Professor of Psychology at CMU, looked at 1,502 healthy adults over 50 through a multi-year study called Health and Retirement Study. This survey looked at health information like blood pressure and psychological factors such as relationships of more than 26,000 Americans every 2 years.

They looked at data between 2006 and 2010, correlating negative social relationships and blood pressure. They classified negative interactions as things like excessive demands, criticism, disappointment, and disagreeable relationships in general. When these were present, there was an average 38% increase in the risk of heart disease in women. Younger women between 51 and 64 saw a greater effect than older women.

Researchers looked at the negative social interactions and hypertension in men and women. Only women showed this relationship between negative relationships and high blood pressure. Sneed says, There is a lot of evidence that women pay more attention than men do and care more about their relationships than men do and it can be particularly devastating.

Other studies have also shown that women in bad marriages are more prone towards heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

Bert Uchino, professor of social psychology and health psychology at the University of Utah, who was not part of the study, says, It is a really important study; this is looking at the development of health problems. I don’t think that people realize….how these psycho-social factors can impact our long term health. Our relationships are very important, not just for our mental health, and they appear important for how long we live.

Researchers have also found that negative interactions between friends and family members have a bigger impact on blood pressure than with a child or partner. Older adults could have more stable partner relationships to explain the problem, and parents may simply expect that children will challenge them and cause stress.

The Dangers of Anti-Vaxxer Denialism

We’re breaking records in the US. Call it records in Darwinism. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, measles is at a 20 year high in the United States. More than 288 cases as of just May 23 for the year. Comparatively speaking, we had only 37 cases in all of 2004, and in 2002, we declared measles eliminated. Since then, we have discovered certain pockets of the un-vaccinated as well as celebrities who want to be experts (but know nothing about reality) like Jenny McCarthy.

The CDC has reported that most of the Americans have contracted measles before, are immune, or have received the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, which is considered one of the most effective vaccines. Now, measles has been declared an epidemic, despite the wide availability of the best way to eliminate it. A 2.5 year old child was originally identified as patient zero in the journal Pediatrics in Minnesota, which led to the exposure of 3,000 people in the community.

Originally, the child went with his family to Kenya, contracted the measles, and then spread it to family and other toddlers in his daycare. The parents believed that vaccines were dangerous. So they did not have him vaccinated. Personally, if I had kids, I would be looking for a daycare where they require proof of vaccinations. When I take my dogs to a doggy daycare, I only go to those that require that kind of documentation. I would bet that Measles is a lot more dangerous than the vaccine.

The family lives among a small group of Somali immigrants, and the rates of MMR vaccination are low at best. In fact, they have seen a significant decrease in vaccinations from 91% in 2004 to just 54% in 2014. Out of the 3000 who were eventually exposed, 21 showed symptoms and 16 were not vaccinated. So in other words, there are people who will not respond to vaccines by developing immunity. They are protected if everybody is vaccinated, as most people WILL respond to the vaccines.

Dr Abdiraham Mohamed of the Axis Medical Center in Minneapolis says, Every family will tell you that We’re not going to give our children the MMR. We’re afraid that they’re going to get autism. Not only is there nothing to suggest that vaccines have any connection to autism. This case in Minnesota clearly shows what happens when we get caught up in the lies. Worse, this is not an isolated case by any means. Unfortunately, we run into a situation where this has happened before, and it continues to happen among largely un-vaccinated communities. The misinformation spreading like wildfire across many smaller communities is disturbing, to say the least.

After a congressional hearing in 2000, the anti-vaxx movement was first gaining real steam. Sarah Depres wrote:

In 2000, I was a counsel for the Democratic staff of the House Government Reform Committee working on public health issues, including immunization policy. The committee was in its second year of hearings whose purpose on paper was to oversee various aspects of the nation’s immunization program. But in reality, these hearings had become a forum for spouting unproven, and eventually disproven, allegations, linking the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine to autism.

[...] One by one, the committee summoned its witnesses. [Dr. Andrew] Wakefield and other anti-vaccine advocates told the committee stories about children who stopped speaking after receiving their MMR vaccines and spun complicated theories about how the vaccine could prevent children from absorbing nutrients, leading to neurological problems. The experts from CDC and NIH explained that the epidemiology and biology of autism and vaccines did not support what Wakefield and others were professing.

Wakefield is now a disgraced former doctor whose medical license was revoked due to unethical practice and behavior. He published a paper asserting that the MMR vaccine was officially linked to autism, which was contradicted by various other studies, including his own. His research is still used by the anti-vaccine movement as proof, a movement that has cost countless children their lives. So far, it seems that it will continue to cost children their lives.

Signs You Might Be Sleep Deprived

You may be excited that you fall asleep fast. Doctors tell us all the time that if you don’t fall asleep within a certain period of time, you might be suffering from insomnia. However, if you are falling asleep immediately, this may actually be a problem in and of itself. Call it an obsession with being in the middle rather than either extreme.

Shelby Freedman Harris, YouBeauty Sleep Expert and director of Behavioral Sleep Medicine at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City has narrowed it down to a few major signs that you may miss when you are not getting enough sleep, which may be affecting everything from your work performance to your weight:

  1. You Fall Asleep Immediately: In the past, we’ve been taught to think of this as a sign of being a good sleeper. Isn’t that healthy? Not exactly. If you fall asleep within about 5 minutes of laying own, you could actually be suffering from serious sleep deprivation. You may even have a sleep disorder according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

  2. You’re More Impulsive Than Usual: If you grab a donut at the morning meeting when you normally wouldn’t, this may be a bad sign. If you are a little angrier and more unusual in your driving habits, it may be a sign of sleep deprivation. According to Harris, The prefrontal cortex is greatly affected by sleep deprivation. This area is associated with judgment, impulse control, visual association and attention. Less sleep leads to poorer judgment and acting impulsively, e.g. poor eating when sleep deprived, buying things without thinking about the consequences, irritability and mood issues with others.
  3. You Rely on Cliches: If you are throwing around cliches like there’s no tomorrow, using beggars can’t be choosers, better safe than sorry, and you’re not going into the throes of dementia, we have a problem. You lose your creativity when you are lacking sleep, and this may lead to repeated phrases and fallbacks. Harris notes, The frontal lobe is associated with speech, constructive thinking and novel thinking/creativity and is greatly impacted by sleep deprivation. Sleep deprived people find it difficult to have spontaneous complicated speech, leading to more slurring, use of cliched phrases, stuttering and monotone speech.
  4. You Have Become Forgetful: You were just thinking about making sure that you had fresh clothes to change into after the gym, and you forgot. You’re running to dinner, and you forgot your dad’s birthday present. You realize that once again you forgot to turn off the lights. Sleep can cause you to forget a number of things, and Without proper rest, it’s harder to form memories. It is harder to put emotional memories into context, and thus, it is more difficult to act rationally and thoughtfully.
  5. You’re Hungrier Than Usual: When you aren’t sleeping enough, you end up eating and craving more. You end up eating more unhealthy foods to go along with that. Why? Because sleep deprivation affects two key hormones in the body: leptin and ghrelin. Leptin is the hormone that tells our body to stop eating, giving us the sensation that we are full. Ghrelin, on the other hand, is a hormone that gives us a hunger signal and tells us to eat. When we don’t get enough sleep, the leptin/ghrelin balance is shifted, with a drop in leptin and an increase in ghrelin. In short, if you don’t get enough sleep, your hormones tell you to eat more.
  6. You’ve Read This Sentence Twice: Not absorbing what you read? If you are having problems concentrating, you will find that you are not getting enough sleep time. Sleep deprivation can impair your ability to make split-second decisions, remember, process, and it can help us to avoid accidents when driving.
  7. You’re Clumsy: Okay, sometimes you’re just clumsy, but if you’re not usually clumsy and this is a recent development, then you may had a bigger problem. Sleep problems can lead to people being more clumsy, falling, being unsteady on your feet, and even dropping things. It interferes with your basic motor skills.
  8. You’re Fighting With Your Partner: Your partner may be irritating you, or maybe it’s the other way around. Either way, one of you is getting more short-tempered. In 2013, a UC Berkeley study showed that couples are more likely to engage in longer and more serious fights when one or both are sleep deprived. Not getting enough sleep can make it more difficult to avoid and/or handle potential conflict.
  9. You’re Zoning Out: If you find that you are spacing out while driving, missing freeway exits or turns, or otherwise going on auto pilot throughout your workday, you may be getting too little sleep. If you cannot be present in the moment, you may want to get more sleep.
  10. You Sleep During Inappropriate Times During the Day: You can fall asleep when you get to bed. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, you may find your body trying to make up for it. If you fall asleep during work, a daytime flight, or the movies, you will find that you should definitely be getting more shut eye.
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