Health Watch: Attack allergens hiding in your house

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

An estimated 50 million people suffer from indoor and outdoor allergies in the United States, costing Americans nearly seven billion dollars annually, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

Asthma and allergy triggers accumulate in unexpected places throughout your home. Furniture, bedding, curtains, drapes and carpeting can each house dust mites, pet dander and outside allergens.

Here are some tips from appliance manufacturer LG Electronics to reduce the number of allergens in every room:

- Use washable floor mats, and run them through the laundry once a week to remove small particles.

- Don't let damp towels pile up as mold and mites can spread quickly.

- Pet beds hold a lot of dander. Give them their own sleeping area somewhere in the house that isn't a bedroom. Wash the pet beds weekly to cut down on dander collecting.

- Make sure your wash cycle removes allergens. The National Institutes of Health say water at least 131 degrees Fahrenheit will kill allergens. The LG SteamWasher with Allergiene cycle has received an "asthma and allergy friendly" certification from AAFA.

- Replace your mattresses every 10 years, and vacuum them regularly.

- Use washable slipcovers on couches if you have pets to help control pet dander. Run the slipcovers through a steam cycle regularly.

- Consider purchasing more products, including kids' toys and table linens, that are machine washable to help reduce the number of dust mites causing you to sniffle.

- Draperies can also harbor allergens. Use vertical blinds or other easy-to-clean window treatments, or wash and dry-clean fabric curtains once a month to keep the allergens to a minimum.

"While removing allergens like dust mites and pet dander in your house won't cure your allergies, it certainly will help you protect your family by reducing their exposure to these asthma and allergy triggers," says Mike Tringale, director of external affairs for AAFA.

-- ARA

New study: Exercise makes cigarettes less attractive

A new study from the University of Exeter shows for the first time that exercise can lessen the power of cigarettes and smoking-related images to grab the attention of smokers.

The study involved 20 moderately heavy smokers. Participants were shown smoking-related and neutral images, and then spent either 15 minutes sitting, or exercising on a stationary bike at a moderate intensity.

Using eye-tracking technology, researchers measured how long participants looked at smoking-related images. Participants who exercised spent less time looking at the smoking-related images, and were less likely to have their attention grabbed by the images.

Did You Know?

Men with lower cholesterol are less likely than those with higher levels to develop high-grade prostate cancer, according to a Johns Hopkins collaborative study.

Health Tip: Know kidney stone symptoms

Until a kidney stone moves into the ureter — the tube connecting the kidney and bladder — you may not know you have it. At that point, these signs and symptoms may occur:

- Pain in the side and back, below the ribs. Fluctuations in pain intensity, with periods of pain lasting 20 to 60 minutes. Pain waves radiating from the side and back to the lower abdomen and groin

- Bloody, cloudy or foul-smelling urine.

- Pain on urination.

- Nausea and vomiting.

- Persistent urge to urinate.

- Fever and chills if an infection is present.

- Kidney stones that don't cause these symptoms may show up on X-rays when you seek medical care for other problems, such as blood in your urine or recurring urinary tract infections.

Treatment for kidney stones varies, depending on the type of stone and the cause. Consult with your doctor.


Number to Know: 160

Nationwide Children’s Hospital found that from 1990-2007, the number of unintentional hot tub-related injuries increased by 160 percent, from approximately 2,500 to more than 6,600 injuries per year.

Children’s Health: Lap band surgery helps teens

A study involving nearly 50 girls and boys ages 14-17 found that laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding improves the health of morbidly obese adolescents.

The participants showed significant decreases in total and android fat mass 2 years after Lap band surgery. Android fat has been linked to the development of obesity-related illnesses.

The study found that Lap band surgery improved glucose metabolism, reducing the adolescents’ risk of developing insulin resistance. Additionally, bone mineral density was not impacted by the surgery, suggesting that bone growth is not affected.

Researchers noted that surgery should always be a last resort.

-- Children’s National Medical Center

Senior Health: Sleep improves after retirement

A study in journal Sleep shows that retirement is followed by a sharp decrease in the prevalence of sleep disturbances.

The findings suggest that this general improvement in sleep is likely to result from the removal of work-related demands and stress rather than from actual health benefits of retirement.

The postretirement improvement in sleep was more pronounced in participants with depression or mental fatigue prior to retirement, men, management-level workers, employees who reported high psychological job demands, and people who occasionally or consistently worked night shifts.

GateHouse News Service