Archive for January, 2011

Climate Change and Health

A question posed to Earth Talk of Scientific American regarding health and climate change has given cause for discussion.  The question:

Dear EarthTalk: Aren’t environmental issues primarily about health? Detractors like to trivialize environmentalists as “tree huggers,” but the bottom line is that pollution makes us sick, right? Wouldn’t people care more if they had a better understanding of that?— Tim Douglas, Stowe, Vt.

Part of Earth Talk’s response was a look at carbon dioxide emissions and how they may be eventual cause of distress.  Calling on 2009 findings by the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School the Earth Talk author states climate change over the coming decades is likely to increase rates of allergies, asthma, heart disease and cancer, among other illnesses.  Also found in the study is increased levels of CO2 has increased ragweed production, extending allergy and asthma season for those suffering from seasonal allergies by 20 days.

In NYC we understand the link between asthma and air quality.  And as this discussion examines the Link between the Environment and Health it tells us that air quality is affected by increased ground-level ozone and a higher ragweed pollen counts which contribute to prolonged asthma and allergy seasons.

The result? We may find after this snowy winter, seasonal allergies and asthmatic conditions will be on us in a flash.

For more on Allergies visit my website, or to discuss an Immunology treatment plan call me @ 866-632-5537

Read the Harvard Medical School Fact sheet

Read the Scientific American Article

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Suffer From Asthma – Avoid High fat Diets

From Health News

High-fat diets are bad for arteries and waistlines.  New research shows those suffering with asthma should avoid high fat diets due to fact that diets high in fat add to inflammation of the airway and inhibits response to albuterol, a common asthma medication.

Researchers from the University of Newcastle Australia presented evidence that high-fat foods play a large role in the inflammation of airways. Asthma occurs when the lungs become inflamed and constricted. If the airway also becomes inflamed, there is a significant impact on the already difficult breathing condition.

The study looked at the effects of diet on asthma, comparing one group who ate burgers and hash browns against a group who ate low-fat yogurt. Not only was there an 800-calorie disparity between the two meals, but the fat content had almost a 40 percent gap, with the first group ingesting 52 percent of calories from fat, while the yogurt group weighed in with 13 percent of calories from fat.

The tested high-fat group showed an increased of neutrophils in airways. These immune cells can trigger inflammation in the airways. When treated with the asthma medication albuterol three to four hours after the meal, the response was reduced. Further research is needed to determine why the medication doesn’t respond as well after a high-fat diet.

The long and the short—or the high and the low—of it, is that asthma sufferers would be better served by avoiding a high-fat diet.

If you need help with controlling asthma, or suffer from breathing difficulty, feel free to contact my office for an appointment to develop a treatment plan that will help manage your asthmatic condition.

Read the entire story here

CDC on Asthma

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Natural Solutions to Winter Sinus Pain

We understand the atmospheric changes of Winter.  These changes can cause aggravated sinuses.  Occasional sinusitis can be irritating, characterized with sneezing and breathing difficulties. Even sense of taste can be affected.

If you suffer from chronic sinusitis, your condition should be evaluated by your health care provider.

Occasional winter sinus can be prevented by precautionary methods like proper diet and nutrition. Adequate rest and sleep are also beneficial.

Here are a few natural remedies that may provide relief for occasional sinus pain:

• Acupressure

Apply pressure to pressure point connected to the sinus, press is the sides of your nose near the nostrils. You can use your fingers to press them simultaneously.

• Water Steam and Hot Water

Boil clean water in a kettle, you can add few drops of eucalyptus or tea oil. Be very careful to avoid high temperature burns, remove kettle from heat . Position your face comfortably near the exit of the steam and inhale it. Steam can relax your nasal passage and provide relief from difficulty of breathing. It can also help loosen sticky mucus so that it can be easily expelled.

• Plenty of Water and Juice Intake

Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water,  fruit juices (especially those rich in vitamin C).  Apple and dark grape juice are recommended.

• Breathing Exercises

Inhale, exhale, hold, inhale, hold, and exhale. This can help improve your breathing and clear your air passage. Do this regularly, it can help you breath easily and relieve congestion.

• Adequate Rest and Sleep

8 hours of sleep and adequate rest can help relieve the symptoms of sinus.

Again, chronic sinusitis must be treated by your health care provider.  If you’d like a consultation to relieve your sinus condition, please contact me.

Learn more about Sinusitis from the Mayo Clinic.

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Air Filters and Allergies

Questions arise quite often about the use of Air Filters in the treatment of allergies and asthma.  Below are excerpts from Asthma Allergy Foundation of American discussion regarding the use of Air Filters in the home.

What Do I Need to Know About Air Filters?

When we think of air pollution, we usually associate it with outdoor air. But with the growing epidemic of asthma in the United States in the last 20 years, especially among infants and children who spend most of their time inside, much attention has been given to indoor air. In fact, in 1990 the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ranked indoor air pollution as “a high priority public health risk.”

The EPA recommends three strategies for reducing indoor air pollution:

  • Controlling sources of pollution,
  • Ventilating adequately and
  • Cleaning indoor air.

Before you make any changes to your indoor home environment or purchase any air filtration products, make sure to speak with a doctor who knows your personal medical history and current condition.

Will Air Filters Really Help my Asthma or Allergies?

Although the EPA recommends air filtration, controlling the sources of allergy-causing pollution and ventilation are more important. Air filters are worth considering, but not as a solution to your asthma or allergy problems by themselves. In fact, research studies disagree on whether or not filters give much added relief in a clean and well-ventilated home.

While many allergens and irritants are suspended in household air, there are far more resting on surfaces like rugs, furniture and countertops. Keeping these areas clean is an important step in controlling your allergy and asthma triggers. However, the most effective step is to eliminate the source of these allergens and irritants in the first place.

It is important to note that an Air Filter is not a solution to allergies or asthma, but rather a mechanism to reduce particulate matter in the air.

If you are thinking about buying a filter, here are several questions to consider:

Questions to Ask Before Purchasing an Air Filter

  • What substances will the cleaner remove from the air in my home? What substances will it not?
  • What is the efficiency rating of the cleaner in relation to the “true HEPA” standard?
  • Will the unit clean the air in a room the size of my bedroom?
  • How easy/difficult is it to change the filter? (Ask for demonstration.) How often does it have to be changed? How much do filters cost? Are they readily available throughout the year?
  • How much noise does the unit make? Is it quiet enough to run while I sleep? (Turn it on and try it, even though you will probably be in a noisy place.)

Before making an Air Filter purchase to relieve health conditions, please consult your health care provider.

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Justin Bieber’s Allergic Reaction

Pop sensation Justin Bieber was rushed to the hospital after a scare on the set of the crime drama CSI.  The 16-year-old was shooting scenes for his next appearance on the CBS show when he started having trouble breathing.  According to E! News, the Grammy nominated singer suffered an allergic reaction and needed insta-treatment at nearby Providence Saint Joseph Medical Canter in Burbank.

Allergies are a hypersensitivity of the immune system. The disorder may cause asthma, sinus issues as well as allergic reactions to normally harmless environmental substances known as allergens. These allergic reactions are acquired and predictable. The reaction is often quite rapid.

While there are common seasonal allergies like hay fever, individuals can also suffer from food, environmental and animal allergies.  Allergic issues can be exacerbated by space restrictions, air quality, weather, and occupational environments  resulting in exposure to higher concentrations of allergens.

Severe allergic reactions may result in severe symptoms such as:

· Dizziness

· Nausea

· Weakness

· Stomach cramps

· Diarrhea

· Hives and itching

· Wheezing and difficulty breathing

· Anaphylactic reaction (shock)

o sudden drop in blood pressure

o loss of consciousness

Learning more about allergens, their effect, how to avoid them, and how to treat allergic reactions, asthma, and sinus issues   can be vital to improve the quality of life for anyone suffering from allergies.

Learn more about allergies and treatment at

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A Look at Nasal Irrigation

The topic of Nasal Irrigation has resurfaced as a popular solution to sinus problems.  At the University of Wisconsin – Madison,  Dr. David  Rabago has conducted  four studies observing people with chronic sinus symptoms.  In his findings, those subjects who consistently practiced nasal irrigation reported a decrease in symptoms (congestion, runny nose), an increased quality of life and a reduced use of nasal sprays and antibiotics.  From Dr. Rabago:

“(Some study participants) said that while nasal irrigation is effective, it’s not very natural and takes a little bit of determination for the first or second use.  After that it becomes progressively easier and people begin to view this as a normal part of their daily hygiene routine. They brush their teeth, they wash their face, they rinse their nose.”

Some sinus problems may contribute to a breakdown in the normal function and protective role of the nasal cavity. The purpose of the lining of the nasal cavity is to protect the upper respiratory system from infection by viruses and bacteria.  If the mucosa is deficit to the task, sinus symptoms may result.

Dr. Rabago believes and as his study suggests, nasal irrigation may helps the mucosa do its job.

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology recognizes that people with chronic or acute sinus infections may produce excessive mucus and sinus rinses can be helpful to remove or thin out secretions.  These solutions may also rinse out allergens, irritants, and germs removing possible triggers that bother people with sinus and rhinitis problems.

It is most important to note that with any medical product, be sure to speak to your doctor before beginning any such treatment.  Seek the counsel of your allergy/immunology specialist for advise and information regarding nasal irrigation.  Do not embark on any plan of treatment without first consulting your health care provider.

If you are in the NYC area and experience reoccurring, chronic nasal congestion call me for an appointment.  I will be happy to discuss a plan of treatment so that you can breathe easier.  Reach me at or at 866.632.5537

For more on Dr. Rabaga read Nasal Irrigation Helps Control Sinus Problems

Review Nasal Irrigation on AAAAI

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More on Obesity and Asthma

From a Canadian study in which 673 people were evaluated of which 71 percent of participants reported exercise-induced asthma (ETA)….

“Compared with normal-weight participants, patients who were overweight or obese were more likely to report ETA. To our knowledge, there are no studies that have explored this relationship,” he says. “We also found that for every one-point increase in body mass index score was associated with a 9 percent increase in the probability of reporting exercise-induced asthma.”

Participants who took part in the investigation suffered from intermittent as well as mild, moderate and severe persistent asthma. Their body mass index was calculated according to their reported height and weight. Patients were also asked to indicate factors — exercise, animals, dust, pollen, aspirin, stress, emotions or cold air — that could trigger their asthma.

“Exercise-induced asthma may lead to a sedentary lifestyle, increased weight and can fuel a downward spiral to worsened health,” says Dr. Bacon. “Given the importance of exercise and regular physical activity in weight management, greater care should be taken when working with asthma patients to refer them to appropriate weight management specialists to help them control and safely reduce their weight.”

The study was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Canadian Institute of Health Research and the Fonds de la Recherche en Santé du Québec.

Results and accompanying article are published in the journal The Physician and Sportsmedicine

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Research on the Use of Omalizumab

New research suggests that subcutaneous omalizumab (brand names Xolair, Genentech / Novartis) may be a safe and effective an add-on treatment to corticosteroids for moderate to severe asthma in children and adults.

Researchers from Uruguay, Argentina, and Chile performed a meta-analysis on eight trials where 1,883 patients received omalizumab and 1,546 received a placebo. At the end of the steroid reduction phase, patients taking omalizumab were more likely to have corticosteroids withdrawn completely compared with those taking placebo.

Furthermore, patients taking omalizumab showed a decreased risk for asthma exacerbations at the end of stable and adjustable-steroid phase. The frequency of serious adverse events effects was similar between both groups, and there were no indications of increased risk of hypersensitivity reactions, cardiovascular effects, and malignant neoplasms.

This article is published in the January issue of Chest, the peer-reviewed journal of the American College of Chest Physicians: Chest 2011; 139(1):28-35.

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