Among the various health issues that plague us during the festive holiday season; flu, colds, heart disease, hypothermia, pneumonia….we add one more to the list….Christmas Tree Syndrome.
Christmas Tree Syndrome occurs when one feels ill when they are in close proximity to their Christmas Tree. True the average Christmas tree is a spruce or fir, which rarely should be allergenic, but researchers have found they still carry allergens such as pollen, picked up by nearby plants, and may house mold.
Researchers from State University in New York analyzed the bark and needles of multiple Christmas trees and found multiple cases of mold with their allergy producing spores. And since they are trees from the wild, they provide residence to thousands of critters…aphids, mites, bark beetles and even spiders.
Now we have been living with Christmas trees each season and harmoniously and symbiotically have lived with their crittery inhabitants without being attacked, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t free from symptoms.
Christmas Tree Syndrome includes any of the following symptoms:
Mold and pollen are notorious for being the biggest culprits in causing these types of respiratory symptoms, so the following has been suggested to reduce your risk of Christmas Tree Syndrome:
Have a happy and healthy Christmas!!
This week, the CDC issued a general warning that Romaine lettuce is not safe to eat.
32 people from 11 states have become ill due to this recent outbreak of E. coli.
The Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7 sickened 32 people between the dates October 8-31, 2018 and caused 13 hospitalizations, one of whom went into kidney failure.
No deaths have been reported.
On Tuesday they issued the following tweet:
Outbreak Alert: Do not eat any romaine lettuce, including whole heads and hearts, chopped, organic and salad mixes with romaine until we learn more. If you don’t know if it’s romaine or can’t confirm the source, don’t eat it. https://go.usa.gov/xPAy5
On their website, the CDC reports the following:
CDC is advising that U.S. consumers not eat any romaine lettuce, and retailers and restaurants not serve or sell any, until we learn more about the outbreak. This investigation is ongoing and the advice will be updated as more information is available.
Symptoms of E. coli poisoning can occur anywhere from 1-10 days after ingestion.
Diarrhea, may be bloody
And if progresses, can cause
Shortness of Breath
Exposure to E. coli may occur from exposure to contaminated foods (from human or animal waste) or undercooked meats.
A recent analysis from Kaiser Family Foundation found the average younger American does not have a primary care provider (PCP).
Looking at survey answers from 1200 participants, 45% of 18 – 29 year-olds admitted to not having a PCP. 28% of those aged 30-49 and 18% of those aged 50-64 said the same. Those over age 65 were the largest group to have a primary care provider.
Those born between 1981-1996, known as the Millennials, may have different attitudes towards health care. Keep in mind, they just lived through nearly a decade of recession, computer hacks, Obamacare controversies, and societal distrust of pharmaceutical companies.
PCP’s however are the “quarterback” in one’s healthcare, keeping accurate and thorough records on one’s medical history, addressing immediate and chronic issues, and coordinating where their patient needs to go if a specialist is needed.
But Millennials, instead, are preferring urgent cares, retail clinics, emergency rooms, or using telemedicine for their medical needs.
However if one, unknowingly, suffers from a chronic condition and has various acute issues, they may be misdiagnosed because they are receiving piecemeal care without someone overseeing them and connecting the dots.
Diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, syphilis, AIDS, neurological disorders and autoimmune illnesses are just a few that may cause intermittent acute episodes before becoming deadly. Someone needs to take a step back, look at one’s medical history and properly diagnose, or simply put, see the forest from the trees.
Our healthcare system is changing and the needs of the younger generation appear to be better met by clinics that charge up front, address a single issue, and provide convenient hours. Therefore “primary care” providers will still be needed, however, the art of “primary care” may evolve into a whole new beast.
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is Disney’s latest release, and not only are viewers anticipating a fairy tale story, dancing, melodious soundtrack and illuminating colors, but they are also expecting a parent to die or not be in the picture early on in the story.
It’s inescapable if you commit to emotionally investing in a Disney film. And if you look closely, it’s more often the mother.
Why? Well let’s first look at some of the classics.
1938 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – Snow’s biological mother died and is replaced by the Evil Queen, her stepmother.
1941 Dumbo – our favorite elephant is parent-less in the movie.
1942 Bambi – sadly, graphic content below….
1950 Cinderella – the most famous princess to ever live is motherless in the movie and haunted by her big-footed step family.
1951 Alice in Wonderland – its been postulated Alice was orphaned and taken care of by a governess.
1963 The Sword and the Stone – Arthur is a 12 year-old orphan boy.
1967 The Jungle Book – Mowgli is found parent-less.
1989 The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s mother, Queen Athena, was killed, leaving her father Triton to raise her and her sisters.
1992 – Aladdin – Princess Jasmine is motherless.
In Tarzan's, Lilo's and The Emperor's New Groove's Kuzko, all lost their parents.
In 1994 not a dry eye was in the house during the scene in which Simba loses Mufasa in The Lion King….
1995 – Pocahontas – it’s revealed her mother had passed a while back.
And the most colorful and comical of the Disney films, Finding Nemo, wasn’t exempt either, with Nemo’s Mom being eaten in the opening scene.
Multiple theories were brought forward by Disney producer, Don Hahn, in an interview to Glamour. The first was that Walt Disney tragically lost his mother when he was younger.
In 1938 the successful film producer, young Walt, purchased a home for his parents and when the gas furnace was faulty he sent his studio men over to fix it. Unfortunately the repair was not adequate and it eventually leaked, and his mother, Flora Call Disney, soon died of asphyxiation.
It’s believed the grieving son found the interweaving of this tragedy into his work as a means to deal with his guilt.
The second theory is that Disney films wanted to mix fairy tale with the reality many children face, adding a sense of “realism” to the stories.
And final theory is Walt Disney wanted children to feel like heroes, and a film in which a child battles evil without the help of Mommy and Daddy infused a sense of empowerment to his target audience.
So the idea of celebrating the triumph of the quest of a parent-less child is probably more pervasive in these movies than the purposeful injection of a gory parental death. Although this makes Disney movies more palatable, I’m still hoping Mufasa was only unconscious and recovered off the set when we weren’t looking.
As the death toll rises and thousands of acres burn between California’s Camp Fire and Woolsey Fire, those residents lucky enough to escape the flames worry what consequences could result in inhaling the smoke.
According to the EPA, smoke emanating from forest and community fires may include any of the following:
According to the EPA,
Smoke is composed primarily of carbon dioxide, water vapor, carbon monoxide, particulate matter, hydrocarbons and other organic chemicals, nitrogen oxides, trace minerals and several thousand other compounds. The actual composition of smoke depends on the fuel type, the temperature of the fire, and the wind conditions. Different types of wood and vegetation are composed of varying amounts of cellulose, lignin, tannins and other polyphenolics, oils, fats, resins, waxes and starches, which produce different compounds when burned.
Some may have no idea they are breathing in harmful compounds that could affect their lungs and heart. However, many may experience:
PM2.5 are particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter that are present in pollution and wildfire smoke that can penetrate deeply into the lung linings. Larger, coarse particles 10 micrometers in diameter are called PM10. Both impair lung function as they inflame the lungs and interfere with the work of alveoli that need to oxygenate the blood. Moreover the small particles can use this pathway to enter the bloodstream. Although the direct health impacts of the fine particulate matter is not clearly defined it is believed that increased PM2.5 levels increase the risk of lung and heart disease as discussed above.
Symptoms may begin at levels greater than 55 µg/m3 .
How can residents protect themselves?
Avoiding the area of wildfires is paramount. Additionally, the following may be considered:
Editor's note: As a companion read you might also be interested in a story we published in Sept. last year: 5 apps to help you recover from hurricanes and wildfires.
An Oregon woman claims her cat helped her detect her breast cancer, and she’s not the first one to claim how furry friends can save lives.
Michelle Pearson adopted a cat, Mia, a few years back from the Humane Society. The one day she pounced on Pearson’s chest, sniffed her breast and directed her owner’s attention to the breast. Days later Michelle was diagnosed with breast cancer.
She states, “All of a sudden out of nowhere, she just got up on my chest and she sniffed that breast and then looked in my face, sniffed the spot again and looked in my face and I tried to shove her off and she came back up and just laid down on that right breast and she looked at me like ‘I’m trying to tell you something.'”
She feels her rescue cat actually “rescued” her.
A woman in California cited the same miracle. Nancy Best stated her dog, also named Mia, would not stop licking her breast. She was eventually diagnosed with breast cancer.
Sometimes animals may not always be friendly towards a diseased body part. My in-law’s poodle would shower everyone with licks except for one person who she would excessively bark at. He was soon diagnosed with brain cancer.
PBS reports that dogs can smell 40 times better than humans, with over 300 million olfactory receptors in their nose. They can smell parts per trillion, a keen sense that is potentially sharp enough to pick up cancer cells and the smells they produce.
Healthline reports that cancer cells raise polyamine levels which come with an odor. Moreover if cancer cells incite an immune response, this can expel a scent as well.
In 1989 a case report revealed a woman’s dog tried to bite a mole off her leg which ended up being malignant melanoma.
According to a 2011 study in the journal Gut, Labrador retrievers were able to sniff out colon cancer in 97% of stool samples.
The Italian Ministry of Defense’s Military Veterinary Center was successful in training German Shepherds to recognize prostate cancer proteins in urine to 98% accuracy.
For those of you with a pet pigeon, don’t feel left out. A University of Iowa study found pigeons to be trained to detect breast cancer cells to 85% accuracy.
So despite our animals possessing the power to sense microscopic anomalies, we shouldn’t panic every time they sniff or lick us. But if they persist on one area of your body, it might be worth getting checked out.
Editor’s note: The folks over at Dogsnaturallymagazine.com also weigh on this topic citing numerous studies and anecdotal evidence all concluding that, yes, it’s very probable that dogs can sniff out ill health. As for cats smelling cancer, well - the research seems to suggest otherwise. Sorry, kitty lovers. =)
For over a year we’ve been bombarded daily with candidate interviews, political commentary, primaries, speeches, polls, mudslinging, ads, and frankly, we’re sick of it. The amount of negativity spewing from both sides is exhausting and out-right depressing!
But as we receive the election results, some of us will be rejuvenated with hope while others will fall into the abyss of an election loss. Election depression is real, very real.
It’s despondency (a drop in mood stemming from a loss of hope) after an election. We’ve discussed election anxiety recently as many people are fearing the result, but we haven’t prepared the country for what happens when the vote doesn’t swing their way. Feelings of sadness, guilt, remorse, agitation, irritability, are just a few of the signs.
Multiple factors can cause this..
On one hand it's good to be passionate about an issue or candidate. Passion drives us to make change, build, progress, restore, and all the good verbs that our great country needs.
However, while we’re being passionate, we need to be prepared.
When you’ve been through as many elections as I have, you learn that you don’t win them all. You also learn that one candidate will always win and one candidate will always lose. Not thinking about the latter won’t wish it away. The reality of your last choice candidate being your legislator needs to be faced. So it's better to mentally prepare for it early.
Here’s some things you can do:
Losing isn’t easy, but it's something that we eventually become good at. If my candidate loses, I will start an Election Loser Club. I’ll probably invite Mickey Mouse to be our first guest speaker, since he always seems to be on the ballot each election anyway and never wins. He still though, manages to keep a smile on his face. So should we.
Ghosts, goblins, Mommy yelling – Halloween can be pretty scary. But the candy, the costumes, decorations and running door to door threatening all your neighbors with a “trick” makes it one of the most exciting days of the year!
Unfortunately, the more fun and immersed into the festivities, the more dangerous for our little ones. 160,000 injuries occur on this day each year, and even scarier, Halloween is the deadliest for pediatric pedestrians with 7300 fatalities reported annually by the National Safety Council.
Thousands have petitioned the White House this year to move Halloween officially to the last Saturday of October to avoid families rushing home on a work/school night to start the festivities.
However, any day kids are running around in a quest to find sugar puts them at risk and no holiday should end so tragically.
In addition to traffic accidents, parents need to be aware of fire and choking hazards. We therefore recommend the following to keep our kids safe.
Make sure your child’s mask allows him/her to see clearly. If not, replace with non-toxic makeup that is tested a few days before on a small area of skin on their arm to ensure they are not allergic. The makeup should be washed off before bedtime.
2. Avoid long costumes, such as ghost-themed, that may trip your child while they walk/run.
3. Use bright-colored costumes. If your child insists on a dark costume, such as Batman, put a belt of glow sticks around him or add reflective tape to their costume and trick or treat bags
4. Make sure all costumes and hats are flame resistant and teach your kids how to avoid tripping over jack-o-lanterns with candles in them.
5. Avoid costume contact lenses as they may decrease visual acuity, scratch the eye and cause infection.
6. Use the sidewalk. Your child will want to zig zag across the street when they see everyone else doing it. You need to be the parent like me who yells at everyone to get back on the sidewalk.
7. Watch out for drunk drivers. Many are coming back from a “trick or drink” party and could be impaired.
8. Make the “no eating candy until you get home” rule. Allows you to check the candy for open wrappers and dangerous things that don’t belong. Then steal your favorite treats when the child is taking his/her potty break
9. Teach your child to not enter a stranger’s home – even if it is in full decoration
10. Stay in a group and follow your children. You can leave a safe distance behind while still supervise. And it's fun when we parents compete for who can yell at our kids the loudest.
11. Carry Walkie Talkies. Halloween streets get loud and kids may not hear you if they start walking down a different street and turn into a housing complex. Walkie talkies are fun and keep you connecting with your younglings’ even if they are a few feet away.
12. Parents should avoid “Trick-o-Drink!!”ing where we walk around with our red plastic cup and rather than ask for candy, we opt for some spirits poured in. Parents giggle, feeling part of the festivities, but unfortunately will be sloshed by the fourth home they hit and won’t be able to effectively supervise the children. We need to be at the top of our game this Halloween. Cut the booze.
13. And drivers, be wary of trick-or-treaters even before it gets dark. Drive slowly and pay attention! Let’s have a Happy and Safe one!!!
The FDA has approved a new drug, Xofluza (baloxavir marboxil), to help fight the flu this season.
The antiviral is a single dose and is taken within 48 hours of first signs of flu symptoms.
It is only indicated in those older than 12 years old. The cost is approximately $150 for the single dose.
Current antiviral medications approved by the FDA to shorten the course of the flu include Relenza and Tamiflu. These medications are in a class of neuraminidase inhibitors, which inhibit the release of new viral particles that have replicated in a host (patient).
Xofluza, however, works sooner, by preventing the virus from replicating within the host cell in the first place.
Therefore this new drug can stop the spread of flu earlier than its predecessors.
NBC News reported the following:
So the less time one is sick with the flu, the less risk of coming down with a secondary infection such as pneumonia, or other flu related illness.
Moreover if viral shedding is decreased, less family members and contacts can potentially become ill.
Now Xofluza may not prevent the flu in one who has not been exposed because it works by preventing virus that is present from replicating.
Flu symptoms may come abruptly and include:
The most effective way to prevent the flu is avoidance of sick contacts, good hand washing and vaccination.
The FDA is warning e-cigarette companies to stop selling vaping products with claims that they contain erectile dysfunction medications.
Consumers are being urged to avoid vaping products claiming to have ingredients such as sildenafil and tadalafil used in Viagra and Cialis respectively as they can interact with other medications (such as nitrates). Moreover there is no data suggesting one’s respiratory lining to be a safe route of absorption of a phosphodiesterase type-5 (PDE-5) inhibitor.
The primary purpose of the lungs is to oxygenate blood and its highly specialized lining is not necessarily designed to absorb nutrients, as does the small intestine.
On the FDA website it states:
FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb states, “There are no e-liquids that contain prescription drugs that have been proven safe or effective through this route of administration.”
Companies are looking to expand their market by enticing consumers to vape vitamins, such as B12, and essential oils. Last week, however, a professor of nutrition from New York University, Dr. Charles Mueller, warned against it. He states, “Vitamins need to come with [fat and water] and go through the same gastrointestinal tract to be absorbed.” Moreover respiratory administration of nutrition has not been actively studied.
A study published by the American Heart Association found nine different E-cig flavors to impair blood vessel function, which can impair heart health.
Endothelial cells, which delicately line blood and lymph vessels, were found to become inflamed at low concentrations of some vapor flavors. And at high concentrations of others, exhibited cell death. Nitric oxide production, necessary for vessel dilation to improve blood flow, was impaired as well. These are often the same changes seen in early heart disease.
The 9 flavors (and the chemicals within) cited in the report to cause the endothelial inflammation and/or damage were:
Strawberry flavoring appeared to have the most adverse effect on the cells.
How many other flavors were not included in this study, so it's unknown how safe they may be.
Last May, researchers from Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville found e-cig smoke to increase one’s risk of bladder cancer.
In 2015, the University of Minnesota identified chemicals commonly found in e-cig vapor to include:
Although electronic cigarette “juice” may appear safe, it could produce harmful chemicals once heated to become a vapor.
A lethal dose of nicotine for an adult ranges from 30-60 mg and varied for children (0.5-1.0 mg/kg can be a lethal dosage for adults, and 0.1 mg/kg for children). E-cigs, depending on their strengths (0 – 5.4%) could contain up to 54 mg of nicotine per cartridge (a 1.8% e -cig would contain 18mg/ml).
The topic of nicotine increasing one’s vulnerability to cancer is nothing new as decades ago researchers found nicotine to affect the cilia (brush border) along the respiratory tree, preventing mucous production and a sweeping out of carcinogens trying to make their way down to the lungs.
More research needs to be performed but this recent report reminds us that exposing our delicate lung tissue and immune system to vaping chemicals may not be as safe as we think.