A man receives a check-up for middle ear infections.

Treatment for Chronic Middle Ear Infections

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A middle ear infection, also known as ‘otitis media,’ is an infection or inflammation that occurs inside the eardrums.  This can cause sinus issues, among others.  Generally speaking, people with middle ear infections pick them up from colds, coughs, sore throats, and other respiratory problems. Of course, the word ‘chronic’ suggests this is an ongoing problem, which is why we want to address the treatment side of things today.

With ear infections, doctors like to wait at least two months to three months before classifying it as ‘chronic.’ ‘Acute’ ear infections usually only last for a few weeks. Typically, those with an acute infection will experience fluids accumulating behind the eardrum.

These fluids can remain behind the eardrum for a few months. If the fluid stays in place for a prolonged period or there’s some form of negative pressure, the patient will continue to see problems long into the future. Over time, the middle ear may develop a hole in the eardrum, leading to more severe issues. Doctors talk about middle ear infections in terms of months as opposed to days or weeks because chronic middle ear infections typically start without pain or any real symptoms. As time goes on, the ears may pop after sustained pressure and result in hearing loss.

Before talking about the treatments and what you can do to alleviate the issue, we should note that infants and young children are particularly prone to middle ear infections. In fact, three in every four children will experience a middle ear infection before their third birthday.  As the canal that connects the back of the nose/throat to the middle ear, the ‘Eustachian tube’ is more horizontal and much shorter when children are younger. For the microorganisms that cause infection, a shorter tube allows them to enter the middle ear faster.  In combination with a young child’s weaker immune system, and children find it hard to stave off.

A young girl gets checked for middle ear infections by a doctor.

Young children are more susceptible to middle ear infections due to a shorter Eustachian tube that allows bacteria easier access to the middle ear.

Treating Middle Ear Infections

In the majority of cases, antibiotics will be the first course of treatment. Even though there’s no real evidence to suggest their effectiveness in treating otitis media, since most middle ear infections are viral, they can remove various symptoms and make it easier for the infection to resolve itself.  Antibiotics usually fix the problem in around five days. Doctors often prescribe amoxicillin, allowing you to get back on your feet in no time.

After medication, many children and adults require grommets, which are also an option if the middle ear infection doesn’t clear up immediately. Grommets are tiny tubes placed inside the eardrum that aid with drainage. As we discovered earlier, the problem worsens when the fluid doesn’t drain away, so grommets could stop the negative spiral of events that makes otitis media worse.

Under general anesthesia, these grommets can be installed in around 15 minutes and are left inside the ear for several months. With the eardrum open, the middle ear infection can heal fully, and the grommet will eventually be pushed out. You typically won’t feel any pain, and the majority of grommets are removed between six months and a year after being installed.

If the problem is too severe for either of these solutions, surgery is recommended if there aren’t any other solutions available. With this option, the idea will be to remove the infected tissue and the areas causing the recurring pain and discomfort. Once these problem areas have been eliminated, an intact eardrum can then recreate a middle ear space as found in healthy ears.  Hearing can then be restored.

At first, you may find it strange that hearing is the last thing to be restored, but the first two steps are pivotal to stop the infection from returning. If these two steps aren’t met at the beginning, anything else done to improve hearing will be futile. If the infection comes back after the hearing is restored, hearing can be lost again so this is why the order of priority has been developed in this way.

In most cases, the problem will clear itself up with the help of antibiotics. If this doesn’t work, your doctor should discuss more great solutions so you can move forward with your life without worrying about infection and discomfort in your ears.

A little boy with pet allergies cuddles up next to a puppy in a green beanbag chair.

Pet Allergies: Causes and Prevention

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Some things stay controversial, and the debate over pets and allergies has been going on for some time. Can you have pets when you have allergies? How will it affect you? Why do pets trigger allergies in the first place? Since our furry, feathery friends can add so much to our lives, it seems sad we should be restricted due to such a common health issue like pet allergies.

What Causes Pet Allergies?

Before we go any further, we should note that everybody is unique so will have different types of pet allergies and different things that set off the condition. For example, some people might be allergic to just dogs while others are allergic to cats, horses, hamsters, guinea pigs, mice, rabbits, gerbils, and even birds.

When it comes to pet allergies themselves, they commonly develop in children, but they can also show at any stage of life. Even if you had a cat for the first twenty years of your life with no problems, you could still get a cat at 40 and suddenly see a reaction. Regardless of when it develops, pet allergies are what we call ‘allergic asthma.’ Proteins from their skin, known as ‘dander,’ irritate your immune system.

If you’re sensitive to these particular proteins, the immune system overreacts after touching or inhaling the allergen and this releases histamine thus leading to an allergic reaction. If you have allergies or asthma, the release of histamines will worsen the symptoms.

A little girl and a french bulldog touch noses, showing that pet allergies don't have to stop you from owning a furry or feathery companion.

If you have pet allergies and want to become a pet owner, fear not! There are ways to control pet dander and allergens in your home. You can also speak to a vet or your allergist to see if there is a compatible pet for you that won’t irritate your allergies.

An Overview

Unfortunately, family pets can be a trigger of allergy and asthma attacks, but this doesn’t mean you need to give up your pet or put your dream of having a pet aside just yet. First things first, talk with your doctor, and they should be able to assess the severity of your case. From here, you should consult with your vet. Since physicians aren’t typically trained giving you advice for living with pets, professional vets will probably provide you with the best opportunity to live harmoniously.

As you work with your vet, they’re likely to present you with tips that’ll lessen the effects of having the pet and, hopefully, reduce the symptoms you see. For example, regular vacuuming to control pet dander will be necessary, as will keeping your pet from your bedroom. Considering you need to avoid the allergen to prevent an allergy attack, it’s best to keep your pet from living spaces, so you have allergen-free sections of your home.

Furthermore, your vet will recommend keeping all bedding clean while also considering dust mite covers, and this is because dust mites enjoy eating pet dander. As an alternative solution, you can try some shampoos and sprays on the market that have been designed to neutralize all dander. Ultimately, it’s about being sensible and doing all you can to avoid pet dander from ruling your home.

Talk To Your Doctor or Allergist

If the tips above haven’t helped or you’ve tried them before, it’s now time to talk with your doctor again because they should help you to find what’s actually causing the allergy symptoms. Rather than assuming the pet is the cause, the doctor should be able to test for pet allergies to see the primary contributing factor to your allergies. From here, they can suggest advice, or you may find that your condition just doesn’t allow you to live safely with your current pet. If you need to find a new home for your friend, your vet should be able to help you with this.

As we’ve said previously, this doesn’t mean you can’t have a little companion by your side because all pets are different. While all dogs (and other pets) shed, some will shed less than others. These pets may be more compatible with your health concerns. With these hypoallergenic pet breeds, you might be able to live comfortably by applying the tips listed previously.

Ultimately, we recommend spending time with the type of pet you wish to adopt so you can learn whether you can both live happily together. If the pet doesn’t trigger your allergies, you may just have found a new home for a pet and a happy future for yourself. Before committing though, we recommend taking them home and spending time together in different environments just to be sure.

The word "tinnitus" is spelled out with wooden block letters.

Tinnitus: Treatment and Symptoms

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According to the most recent report, tinnitus affects around 50 million people in America (to some extent). For the most part, people learn to live with the condition, but there are solutions available. This being said, some medications will make the issue worse which is why we recommend talking to a medical professional before you take action. For example, large doses of aspirin are a bad idea, and thousands of people go wrong every year thinking it will work.

What Is Tinnitus?

Firstly, we should address how tinnitus affects us and the best way to describe it would be a constant noise disturbance coming from inside your ears. Whether it’s a ringing or a whistling, the tinnitus patient is the only person who hears the sounds, making the condition border on maddening.

For most people, it’s a high-pitched ringing that causes the frustration, but you should know it doesn’t generally mean anything larger. Although there are misconceptions that tinnitus is a signal of something deeper in the ears or brain, this isn’t normally the case. As mentioned, only the sufferer will hear the noise, but there are rare cases where the noise comes from a musculoskeletal movement which will allow others to hear it too.

Symptoms

Ultimately, the only real symptom is the problem itself: the perpetual ringing in your ears. However, it’s important to note that the pitch and formation of the sound can differ from one person to the next. While some people note a low-pitched screech, others will suggest a clicking, chirping, hissing, whistling, whooshing, buzzing, pulsing, static, roaring, and perhaps even a musical tone to the sound.

Through the day and night, the volume can fluctuate, and patients notice it most at night. Tinnitus worsens at night mostly because they have nothing else to distract them. When at work and talking to people, we’re concentrating on other things but, when we’re trying to go to sleep, the ringing becomes the center of attention.

A young woman holds her hand up to her ear, looking like she is in pain. Tinnitus can be unbearable if left untreated.

Tinnitus can be caused by number of things, including loss of the ability to hear certain frequencies, a traumatic experience with loud noises, or a product of the aging process. However, there are a number of treatment options available that help patients with the physiological and psychological effects of tinnitus.

Causes

A little later, we’re going to take you through the treatment for tinnitus, but we first need to know the cause of the condition. With the word ‘tinnitus,’ we have a term that describes the actual sound regardless of its cause, which is important to remember. For proper treatment, it’s important to locate the cause to prevent the condition from returning.

If we were to look at averages and the most common problem, this would come down to damage/loss of the sensory hair cells in the cochlea of the inner ear. While the aging process is typically responsible for this, it can also occur after exposure to loud noises for an extended period. However, the sound we experience will alter depending on the loss of certain audio frequencies.

Once the brain receives fewer external stimuli around the lost frequency, it must adapt and replace the sound itself, and this is thought to be the reasoning for tinnitus. Since the auditory system isn’t providing all the right sound frequencies, the brain has to pick up the slack.

Elsewhere, other causes include traumatic brain injuries, ear infections, head/neck injuries, foreign object in contact with the eardrum, cardiovascular diseases, middle ear issues, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, and diabetes. As we said earlier, some medications will exacerbate the tinnitus, and these include some antibiotics, diuretics, aspirin, and ibuprofen.

Treatment

If left untreated, tinnitus can lead to social isolation, depression, anxiety, and other problems, so treatment is important. With tinnitus, the first step will always be to locate the cause of the issue. After doctors run their tests and discover the problem, they’ll care for the ear infection, drop the ototoxic medications, treat the TMJ problems, etc.

There is no apparent cure for tinnitus induced by old age, so the focus moves to dealing with the sound and making it more bearable. With tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT), this retrains the auditory system, so the tinnitus sounds are accepted rather than disrupting your hearing. Although success isn’t guaranteed, 80% of people find some level of relief from tinnitus with TRT.

If this doesn’t work, your doctor will start dealing with the side effects such as depression, anxiety, and social isolation. With cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), this ensures depression doesn’t get on top of tinnitus patients. Finally, ENT doctors suggest sound therapy, which exposes patients to constant low background noise to counteract the unpleasant inner ear audio disturbances. With some, they find relief in hearing aids because they amplify external sounds and drown out the tinnitus.

A young woman wrapped in a blanket suffers from a chronic cough.

Chronic Cough? Sinusitis May Be to Blame

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Of all the things we experience in life, there are few more frustrating than a cough. At first, we hope it will last for just a couple of days before then disappearing. After several weeks, this is the time you should go to see a doctor because your body is telling you something.  With coughs caused by viral infections or an upper respiratory infection should disappear within a week.  Any cough that lasts longer than a week, a chronic cough, suggests an underlying health condition. Of course, this could be asthma, which is a common issue, but there’s another health problem we’re starting to learn more about as time goes on: sinusitis.

The Link Between Chronic Cough and Sinusitis

According to various ongoing studies and research, we now know that sinusitis is a bigger problem than we first thought. In fact, back in a 2005 Mayo Clinic study, at least 33% of all chronic cough sufferers were suffering from sinusitis (some form of inflammation of the sinuses). In the twelve years since then, this number has increased, but there are now solutions available.

If you’re wondering why this inflammation causes a cough, it comes from what we call ‘postnasal drip.’ Here, your sinuses will produce too much mucus to be of any use so some will drip backward into the throat and this triggers the cough reflex. In the medical world, this has a name of its own; upper airway cough syndrome (UACS). As a side effect of having sinusitis, this creates the link with your chronic cough, meaning you need to treat the sinusitis before anything else.  If left untreated, the cough will keep returning time after time.

Allergic Rhinitis

While on the topic, we should also discuss allergic rhinitis (inflammation concentrated in the nose).  It’s caused by allergens such as mold, pollen, and dust mites. With millions of people suffering from allergies in the US, this is now a huge issue and it just so happens that postnasal drip is a symptom of the problem. As we know, this will soon lead to a chronic cough which persists until you receive treatment.

Generally speaking, patients with sinusitis and rhinitis-related coughs experience a worsening of the symptoms when the sun goes down. Since we go to bed and lie down to get some rest, this horizontal position can cause a disruption in the throat which makes sleeping somewhat difficult. Furthermore, we normally have something else to focus on throughout the day. When we’re trying to go to bed, we tend to concentrate on the things that are preventing us from resting, and this places all the emphasis on the cough.

A young woman suffering from chronic cough holds a tissue to her nose, underneath her umbrella.

Seek professional treatment for a chronic cough as soon as you can, as these symptoms often point to more serious health concerns, such as asthma and sinusitis.

Treatment

As mentioned before, treating the cough alone in these situations is a little pointless because it won’t be long before postnasal drip brings it back again. Therefore, you need to consider tackling the cause of the issue which is the sinusitis.

If you’ve been experiencing the symptoms for more than 12 weeks, you’re now past the ‘acute’ phase and are progressing into the ‘chronic’ phase. At this stage, antibiotics aren’t likely to act fast enough, which is why some form of therapy may be required. Treatment options include including anti-inflammatory nasal sprays and the like. If the problem persists and starts to affect your life dramatically, you should see your doctor for a consultation for balloon sinuplasty.

How balloon sinuplasty works: after inserting a small camera into the nasal passage, a balloon is then sent up before being inflated.  This inflation procedure works similarly to opening blocked arteries during heart surgery. Compared to more traditional options, this is less invasive and will only see you out-of-action for a couple of days.
From here, you can then treat the chronic cough (if it still exists) as you would a normal cough. Safe in the knowledge the postnasal drip has stopped, you can treat the cough without worrying about it returning anytime soon.

Ultimately, you know your body better than anybody else.  Only you know when the cough is unusual in duration and severity. If you pay attention to the length of a cough, by marking it on the calendar, you’ll soon learn the right time to see a medical professional and find the underlying issue.

A dictionary highlights the word ADHD, and recent research shows a definite link between ADHD and sleep disorders.

The Link Between ADHD and Sleep Disorders

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As technology has evolved over the years, many different industries have benefited. As prime examples, science and medicine have perhaps been at the forefront of the transition into the digital world. Not only have we seen more technology used in hospitals and saving lives, but there has also been a lot of work behind-the-scenes in laboratories. With this in mind, it has opened up a brand-new world allowing us to learn how to prevent illnesses, how to treat diseases, and how medical conditions can affect one another. Today, we’re focusing on the latter and the relationship between ADHD and sleep disorders.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Often spotted and diagnosed during childhood, ADHD causes hyperactivity and certain disruptive behaviors in the patient which can have a direct impact on academic performance, work, and other areas of life. Due to uncontrollable impulses and urges, ADHD patients find it hard to stay in control, and this leads to a loss of concentration and focus. Every year, millions of children are affected, and some cases will continue into adulthood. Interestingly, the issue affects boys significantly more than girls; as both age though, it seems to level out, and the rates in adults are relatively equal.

Despite the many advancements in technology, the causes of ADHD outside of neuro-chemical imbalances, are largely unknown even today. According to experts, the most likely cause is a combination of environmental factors and genetics. In addition to this, there isn’t a definite cure which makes the condition somewhat of a mystery for the most part. That being said, many have developed ‘treatments’ that lessen the effects and make the condition more bearable.

Symptoms of ADHD

Nowadays, even children at the age of two years can be evaluated for ADHD. Generally speaking, the symptoms will become more manageable as time goes on, but this doesn’t help childhood because the symptoms can be destructive. For example, they include;

  • Frequent daydreaming
  • Forgetting information
  • Lack of organization
  • Difficulty in staying focused/concentrating on a task
  • Difficulty in following even simple instructions
  • Excessive talking
  • Trouble sitting still
  • Interrupting the conversations of others
  • Frequent impatience

In addition to having an impact on school and work life, people living with ADHD can also struggle to maintain relationships while also becoming more susceptible to ill mental health including depression, anxiety, and, as you may have guessed from the title, sleep disorders.

A young man is experiencing symptoms of both ADHD and sleep disorders, which sometimes coincide. He is massaging his temples, frustrated.

Sleep issues associated with ADHD, such as restlessless, insomnia, and irregular sleep schedules, can often develop into full-fledge sleep disorders. These correlated symptoms solidify the link between ADHD and sleep disorders.

Connection Between ADHD and Sleep Disorders

For those who have ADHD, you’ll know that even thinking about going to sleep can cause anxiety. With nights disturbed by physical restlessness as well as constant mental activity, sleep can be a huge issue. However, the link between sleep disorders and ADHD was overlooked for a long time. For many years, the American Psychiatric Association suggested that all ADHD symptoms are made clear within the first seven years of life. Considering sleeping disorders commonly start at 12 years of age, the connection was never made.

As the issue has become more prevalent, many studies have taken place and created the link, but the link between ADHD and sleep disorders hasn’t been made clear in all the literature currently available. That being said, patients are in no doubt their condition causes sleep disturbances, and four tend to stand out more than others.

Restless Sleep

Even after falling asleep, the sleep can be restless and not what you would consider ‘quality’ of any kind. Waking up at the quietest noise and tossing/turning all night, bed partners often choose to sleep elsewhere on bad nights.

Initiation Insomnia

With this issue, patients simply can’t ‘switch off’ at night, and this is said to affect up to 75% of all people with ADHD. With some, they even say they feel nocturnal because they receive a sudden burst of energy when the sun disappears (despite feeling tired for most of the day). There is statistical evidence that there is a connection between ADHD and sleep disorders: before puberty, up to 15% of children who have ADHD have sleeping problems – twice the amount compared to children with no ADHD.

Intrusive Sleep

Thirdly, some sufferers have reported drowsiness as soon as they lose interest in a task. While active and interested, they feel ready to partake in whatever it is that has their attention. As soon as the interest has disappeared, this is where the trouble commences.

Difficulty Waking

According to some practices, up to 80% of people living with ADHD can have trouble waking up in the morning. Unfortunately, many awake every so often until around 4 a.m. before then struggling to wake up when the alarm goes just a couple of hours later.

Summary

Although it still hasn’t been recognized by the appropriate bodies, sufferers and doctors alike know the relationship that now exists between ADHD and sleep disorders, and it’s one that requires treatment if any improvement is to be made.

A woman is putting in eyedrops against a blue sky. Are allergies genetic?

Are Allergies Genetic?

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Are allergies genetic, hereditary, developed over time? No matter how you ask it, you seem to have stumbled across one of the most popular questions regarding allergies (after “how do I cope with allergies because they’re driving me crazy,”of course). Whether you’re starting to develop similar allergies to your parents or perhaps you’re noticing the signs in your own children, you might be wondering whether allergies can be passed down from one generation to the next. 

To answer this question, we first need to deal with the word “allergy” and what it actually means. In truth, it’s quite a broad term and covers any abnormal reaction to substances that are, generally speaking, harmless to the masses. Known as ˜allergens,”these substances can be found outside, inside, in our foods, and in a variety of other locations in life. 

With each allergen offering something different, the reactions and symptoms of a reaction can be very different. For pollen, for example, you might experience a runny nose, red eyes, itchy ears, watery eyes, scratchy throat, or perhaps something else. With animal dander, dust mites, and mold, the symptoms are very similar but may vary in how often one occurs over the other. Finally, more severe symptoms can include coughs, sinus headaches, and facial pain.

A little girl sneezes in a field full of flowers - are allergies genetic? Her siblings may be allergic to similar things as she is.

To what extent are allergies genetic? Allergies may not be passed down from parent to child, but there is definitely a genetic correlation. Twins, for example, are usually allergic to similar things.

True or False: Are Allergies Genetic?

So, to what extent are allergies genetic? All things considered, there are many ways in which we can develop allergies and our genes are included in this list. Often, parents will pass these allergy genes to their children who will then suffer the same (or similar) allergies throughout their life. Of course, this isn’t to say that, if you have allergies, your children or potential children will definitely develop the same allergies. While some children will develop them, others will develop different allergies, while a third group won’t develop any allergies at all so each case is unique. 

At this point, we should note that the allergy cannot be passed from parent to child. In what sense then, are allergies genetic? Instead, it’s the tendency to be allergic to a certain substance that’s passed on. Today, this is a common misconception even though the difference is quite significant. 

Overall, we can say that children belonging to parents with allergies are more likely to see allergies themselves. This being said, it’s important for all parents to have their children tested for the same allergies if any symptoms show. As long as you’re alert and aware of your child’s behavior, you can approach your doctor and have the best case of treatment installed. To diagnose allergies, the doctor will ask for the medical history of your child (or yourself if you’re experiencing the symptoms) before then performing certain physical tests. If allergies are present but the doctor can’t quite pinpoint the issue, allergy skin testing may be used. 

As soon as the issue has been highlighted, the right treatment can be put into place to keep the allergies under control in the time ahead. Rather than ignoring it and hoping for the best, medication can control the allergies and make the experience a little easier to bear.

Allergen Immunotherapy

Regardless of whether it’s your children, yourself, or even a friend or family member, your doctor might also recommend allergen immunotherapy. If the issue is severe and affecting everyday life, this treatment will gradually desensitize the body to the allergen causing the problems. As the body starts to recover, not as much medication will be required and the symptoms should reduce. 

Studies and Research

A recent study in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology noted how allergies can also be gender-related as well as just inherited. For the longest time, it was assumed all allergies came from the mother. With this discovery, it means the mother is more likely to pass allergies to her daughter while a father is more likely to pass allergies to his son.

Finally, there has also been some interesting research on twins. If they share the same 25,000 genes (identical twins), there’s a 60% chance of both being allergic to peanuts if one is allergic to peanuts. If only 50% of the genes are shared (fraternal twins), this rate decreases to just 7%. 

Ultimately, as we’ve seen all the way through, genes do play a role in passing these allergies along. However, this role is still largely undefined and we’ll only find out how it all works when researchers make a substantial breakthrough!

Man is sitting at desk, sneezing due to indoor allergens.

Reducing Indoor Allergens

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For the most part, there’s not much we can do to control the allergens and wider environment outside. However, we can control what’s inside our home and today we have some simple yet effective tips for reducing indoor allergens both now and long into the future.

Common Indoor Allergens

First and foremost, we should note that the most common allergens you might experience in your home include pet dander, food, cockroaches, mold, dust, and dust mite droppings. For the people inside your home, this can lead to allergic reactions, eczema flare-ups, and asthma spells. Therefore, prevention will always be better than the cure and you should be looking to remove these indoor allergens before doing anything else.

At first, this might seem like mission impossible because your home is a large place to cover all in one sitting. For this reason, today we’re concentrating on the most common hiding places for indoor allergens. By targeting the allergens at their source, you can keep issues to a minimum and breathe freely in your own home.

Clean Air

As a starting point, you should be aiming for the cleanest possible air and this comes from some form of indoor air cleaner such as a High Efficiency Particulate Arresting (HEPA) air purifier. By recycling the air and capturing allergen particles, your home can be free from dust mite debris and pet dander for some time to come.

While on the note of clean air, we also recommend moving your spring cleaning. If you leave the cleaning until later in the season, allergens will make their way into the home as soon as you open the windows to let your house breathe. For example, pollen is a big one in spring and an issue that will cause havoc for many.

A man changes the filter inside his air purifier, which helps reduce indoor allergens.

Purchasing a HEPA air purifier and changing the filter frequently can help reduce airborne indoor allergens and help you breathe easier.

Bedding

With the air as clean as possible, the next area to target should be your bedroom because this should be your haven from the world. As well as cleaning your bedsheets regularly, you should also keep pets away from your bedroom and invest in dust-proof pillows and mattress. Since dust mites feed on the dead skin cells found within the bed sheets, cleaning them in hot water is important to kill them off and ensure your sheets are free from dust mites at all times.

Carpets

If you have a high pile or shaggy carpet, this is the perfect breeding ground for dust mites so a weekly vacuum is essential. If you have pets, make this more frequent and this will keep your carpet as clean as possible. Every 12 to 18 months, we also recommend a professional steam as this will pull all deep-rooted stains and dust. Since the flooring covers the whole house, this is important for removing allergens and staying healthy in your home.

Clutter

Often, we tend to build piles of what can only be described as ‘stuff’ around the home. Whether it’s magazines, paper, or clothing, they end up being forgotten and it creates a safe home for cockroaches. Over time, they’ll shed body parts, leave feces, and drop saliva all over the place and this will be awful for those with allergies and asthma.

Kitchen

While on the topic of cockroaches, you’ll need to keep an eye on your appliances to ensure all food debris is cleaned every so often. In your oven, microwave, toaster, and other appliances, the best way to remove the threat of cockroaches is to keep their food source to a minimum.

Storage

Sure, you wash all bedding once it gets pulled from your bed but how long does it stay in the linen closet after being washed? If you have three or four sets of linen on rotation, dust mites will build by the time you come to use the set and this can be dangerous. If you have sets that don’t even make their way out of the closet, they’ll be a hive of activity for dust mites which immediately taints everything else nearby. To prevent this, we highly recommend cleaning all linen with hot water even if (or especially if) it hasn’t been used for a while.

Humidity

Finally, we recommend investing in a small humidity monitor because mold and mildew thrive in humid areas. If you can keep an eye on the most humid areas within the home, you should be able to prevent the growth of mold thus also preventing issues for those with allergies and asthma. Let’s not forget, mold can affect the respiratory system of even healthy people so it’s always best to keep your home free from the problem!

Type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea are closely related - this man wearing a CPAP mask should probably get tested for type 2 diabetes.

Correlations Between Type 2 Diabetes and Sleep Apnea

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You may already know that sleep apnea is a breathing issue that actually affects over 22 million Americans in some form or another. However, what you may not know is that sleep apnea can be an early sign of diabetes developing within the body.  This ultimately comes down to the concentration of oxygen within the bloodstream. Below, we’ve compiled all the details you need to know regarding type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea how presence of each disease affects the other.

Type 2 Diabetes

Firstly, this is a chronic condition that increases the blood glucose levels to unnatural highs. Over time, the body becomes immune to the effects of insulin or it fails to use the store your body offers and this leads to several consequences. At first, the pancreas will step in to make up for the extra insulin. However, this isn’t a sustainable solution and not enough insulin is produced to maintain natural levels. Unfortunately, the condition is actually largely preventable which means our lifestyles are to blame including obesity and history of the disease in the family.

Sleep Apnea

Also known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), this is a sleep disorder that directly affects the breathing during the night. With snoring and sudden wakefulness as the two main symptoms, OSA can actually lead to several health complications including heart disease and, of course, diabetes. In addition to this, it can impact people who are obese or have a history of the issue in the family, much like diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea can both be triggered by obesity and stress. This man is lying down with a CPAP mask on, and he has sleep apnea.

Obesity and stress are the two most common causes of both type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea.

The Correlation Between Type 2 Diabetes and Sleep Apnea

Scientists have actually known about the correlation between type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea for three and a half decades. Proving a significant percentage of diabetics also suffered from sleep breathing disorders, interest grew and we’ve been learning more about the relationship ever since.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 26 million people suffer from diabetes with up to 95% of these people having the type 2 variety. Of this huge number, 7 in every 10 also have OSA and one study even suggested a total of 72%, which is significant.

Why? Most commonly, the issue starts with sleep apnea. A certain percentage of people don’t manage this condition very well, making it very difficult for our bodies to control the blood sugar levels. As the condition gets worse and we still don’t manage sleep apnea effectively, type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea will both cause more complications as a result.

In addition to this, there’s also a link between the two with excess stress and body fat. When we wake up during the night due to sleep apnea, this causes frustration and stress because we aren’t able to relax before we fall asleep (knowing it will come during the night), leaving us feeling tired the next day. With this interrupted sleep, our bodies are strained beyond comfortable levels and this will further increase blood sugar levels.

Obesity

As we saw previously, obesity is commonly involved in both these issues. For people who are overweight and develop sleep apnea, any excess fat around the neck will actually obstruct the airways and exacerbate the problem. Overnight, your breathing will be interrupted further and this leads to less sleep and increased stress. In turn, this causes a higher risk for both type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea.

Does it Work in Reverse?

With this in mind, can it work the other way where diabetes causes sleep apnea? Ultimately, people with diabetes tend to have poorer sleep than most anyway and this is because the high glucose levels lead to the kidneys excreting excess sugar during the night. In addition to this, diabetes sufferers can struggle with leptin resistance which depresses the respiratory function and causes a destabilization in breathing patterns.

For this reason, people with either condition will automatically be checked for the other because they’re so closely related. As one occurs, it will lead to the other, with each disease causing a positive feedback loop in the other, and your body will continue on a negative spiral until treated.

Careful Management

All things considered, the best solution to both problems will always be careful management after diagnosis. With OSA, the doctor is likely to recommend a CPAP machine while type 2 diabetes needs to be controlled via blood glucose levels and diet, exercise, and injections (if necessary). Thanks to a recent study at the University of Chicago, we actually know that CPAP machines can reduce blood glucose levels which cuts off this negative spiral and prevents the conditions from worsening.

A yellow road sign that says "Allergy Season Ahead." Sublingual immunotherapy may help allergy sufferers get the relief they need.

Is Sublingual Immunotherapy (SLIT) Right for You?

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If you have allergies but you dislike having your allergy medicine injected intravenously, there is another solution – sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT). If you’re surprised this solution even exists, you aren’t alone.  There is a general lack of information available regarding this topic. With this in mind, we’ve decided discuss sublingual immunotherapy so you can decide whether it can benefit you.

What Is Sublingual Immunotherapy?

With many preventative medicines, they expose your body to a small amount of the disease or illness in order to build your immunity. For example, your seasonal flu vaccine works the same way – you’re given a small amount of the virus and this allows the body to recognize the virus and then build an immunity. For some, they’ll experience a light cold for a couple of days after but the idea is that it prevents a heavier illness later in the season.

With sublingual immunotherapy, an allergist (or you, but we’ll discuss this later) will give you tiny amounts of the allergen underneath the tongue. In the same way we’ve seen, this allows the body to build a tolerance to the illness and prevent symptoms from occurring. At this time, many different allergens are actually being tested within the United States.  However, not all of these solutions are ready for administration or even available just yet. New tests are constantly being performed by the FDA, hopefully leading to more allergy solutions in the future.

Will You Benefit From Sublingual Immunotherapy?

Currently, if your body has an overreaction to allergens within the immune system, you could benefit. Available for both adults and children, sublingual immunotherapy is designed for those who suffer from this overreaction (allergic rhinitis) more than once a year. Furthermore, you may also benefit if your existing treatments aren’t sufficiently addressing your allergy concerns. Sometimes, the traditional treatments can become ineffective and this is where SLIT gets to work.

If you have mild allergies or you only experience an illness every so often, SLIT may not be recommended. Elsewhere, you might also be dissuaded from this treatment if your mild allergies can be contained with traditional medicine. Until the procedure becomes more common and accessible, only the most severe cases will be considered for this treatment

A woman with a tissue to her nose is suffering from allergies and may benefit from sublingual immunotherapy.

Talk to your allergy doctor to see if sublingual immunotherapy is right for you.

Is It Safe and Effective?

Whenever the topic of SLIT arises, the questions of safety and effectiveness aren’t far behind. First and foremost, there has been several clinical trials and surveys over the past two decades alone that show SLIT is safe for all patients. Furthermore, it’s also effective for those that suffer with allergies for cat dander, tree pollens, dust mites, ragweed, and even grass.

As time goes on, we’re also getting more evidence to suggest its use in the treatment of the itchy red eyes that often comes with pollen during the worst time of year for sufferers; hay fever season. Also, we should note an ongoing study investigating the relationship between SLIT and children with eczema as well as treating certain food allergies. With these studies and the general excitement surrounding the topic, it’s fair to say there is potential in SLIT and the coming years could be very important.

Are There Any Risks Associated With Sublingual Immunotherapy?

Compared to other treatment methods, the risks aren’t exactly severe but many worry about the fact it’s normally administered at home without any supervision from a professional. If you’re considering this treatment, we highly recommend discussing the option with an allergist because they can provide you with advice while informing you of how to manage adverse reactions. Additionally, you’ll learn what is and isn’t normal in the time after the treatment.

SLIT Facts

To finish, we have some extra information you should know about sublingual immunotherapy including the fact it’s used within the gold standard of care throughout much of Europe. However, it remains as an ‘off-label’ solution in the US by the FDA despite the support it’s received from many professional bodies including the American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy (AAOA). This being said, more products are now being approved and the growing number of studies/evidence falling in the ’positive’ column could certainly change this.
For now, you’ll have to pay out of pocket since it isn’t covered on most insurance policies. After the treatment has been administered, you should start to see results after six months so it isn’t an instant solution. On a positive note, the effects can last up to five years with symptom improvement continuing even after this.

Ultimately, a conversation with your doctor and allergist is always advised as they can tell you whether or not you would benefit from sublingual immunotherapy. If they advise against it, they may just suggest a more effective medicine you haven’t yet tried for your allergies!

Dry coughs can be indicative of more serious health issues. This image depicts a woman in a blanket, suffering from a dry cough.

What Causes a Dry Cough?

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Have you had a dry cough nagging away at you for the past few weeks? At first, we attribute it to the flu or just a cough that will ‘go away soon’. As time goes on, we start to ignore it and actually grow accustomed to the cough but this is incredibly dangerous for a number of reasons. Today, we’re going to uncover these reasons and see what your cough could mean (and why you should seek medical attention).

What Is a Dry Cough?

In case you were unaware, a dry cough is any type of cough that produces no mucus or phlegm. Otherwise known as a ‘non-productive’ cough, they quickly become irritating and cause frustration. Often, they get worse at night as you lie down and this prevents a good nights’ sleep and leads to further issues – trouble concentrating at work, constant daytime fatigue, and even impacts on your personal and professional relationships.

Normal Duration of a Cough

With this in mind, how long does a “typical” cough actually last? According to most experts, a cold or flu-related cough should disappear within two weeks. Though some will be shorter and some may extend to three weeks, this is the average duration a cough lasts.

If the cough lasts for more than eight weeks, this is treated as a chronic cough and for children this lasts around four weeks. If you’ve had a dry cough that has lasted for more than eight weeks, now is the time to see the doctor – especially if it’s affecting work/school, sleep, personal life, or produces bloody phlegm.

Diagnosis

When you first visit the doctor, they’ll look into your medical history before beginning a medical examination. In this testing phase, they may take an x-ray as well as a computerized tomography (CT) scan. With a CT scan, they’ll be able to see the condition of your lungs as well as any issues that would produce a cough or issues within the sinus cavities. After this, they could also go for lung function tests, scope tests, and lab tests.

A woman in front of a white background suffering from a dry cough.

Have a dry cough that has persisted for a while? It’s best to get it diagnosed and treated as soon as possible – dry coughs can be indicative of more serious health issues.

Possible Issues

Possible diagnoses could include the following, some of which produce a dry cough:

  • Asthma – First and foremost, a cough relating to asthma may come as the seasons change or after an upper respiratory tract infection. With asthma, it means there is an issue within the lungs and this leads to regular coughs, difficulty breathing, and many other side-effects. If this is the cause, you may be given an inhaler to aid with your breathing, help your lungs, and clear up the cough.
  • Postnasal Drip – As the nose produces excess amounts of mucus, it can actually drip down into the throat and trigger the cough reflex. Also known as upper airway cough syndrome (UACS), it can continue for some time without treatment.
  • Infections – After a bad case of the flu or an infection in the upper respiratory tract, whooping cough can form which is a bacterial infection within the airways and lungs.
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) – With this issue, stomach acid can back up into the esophagus (which connects your throat and stomach). This can cause both a wet and dry cough, which causes GERD, causing further coughing, etc.
  • Bronchitis – Finally, this inflammation within the bronchial tubes (airways) can cause dry coughing. Although most sufferers are or were heavy smokers, it can occur in anyone and it falls into the spectrum for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
  • Other causes – Ultimately, these are the most common underlying problems for a dry cough but you could also be experiencing a side-effect from blood pressure drugs, cystic fibrosis, lung cancer, laryngopharyngeal reflux, and sarcoidosis.

Treatment

Ultimately, the treatment required will depend entirely on the issue found. For example, antihistamines and decongestants are common for allergies and postnasal drip while antibiotics will be the best solution for infections. Furthermore, acid blockers would be advised for acid reflux although surgery is an option for the more severe cases.

Elsewhere, cough suppressants might be issued if the doctor cannot find the reason for the cough. If the cough is preventing you from sleeping and severely affecting your life, this solution should see you through until test results are returned and the doctor can work towards a proper treatment to get you back on your feet.

If you have a dry cough that doesn’t seem to be disappearing or if you’re coughing up blood, get in contact with your doctor today and you can have the problem treated rather than living with a potentially dangerous health condition.

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