Wednesday, 30 October 2013

How Yoga Can Benefit You

yoga infographic

Love this infographic from Huffington Post! Yoga is beneficial for the mind and body. It is known to reduce stress and boost well-being. Medically proven, stress is one of the triggers for your allergy attack, so if you can reduce stress, your allergy condition should also improve. I find that Yoga calms my mind. Doing it is the only time when my mind can be rid of all the buzz!

I have been going to Yoga class once a week. But I find that that's not enough. Last week, I started to make a commitment to myself to practise at least 5 times a week, 20 minutes each time. It is challenging to squeeze in time, but I hope to stick to it!

For those interested, there are Yoga poses here and here that provides some relief for allergies and nasal congestion.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Apple Cider Vinegar - A Home Remedy For Allergies

If you have been following my blog, you will know that I've had some success with coping with my allergic rhinitis with the use of anti dust mite bedding covers and consumption of Quercetin supplement. The former has improved my sleep tremendously. I never wake up sneezing (& suffering) in the middle of the night anymore. During the day, I also feel that Quercetin has helped in keeping my allergies in better control.

However, Quercetin is not suitable for those who are pregnant or trying to conceive. We would be happy to have a new addition to our family, letting nature takes its course. So I've decided to stop taking Quercetin for the time being. But it is not easy to find a replacement for Quercetin. I know Butterbur and Stinging Nettle are all good for allergies, but from what I gather, they are either not advisable to be taken during this period of time or there is not sufficient information to determine they can. And so here I am, searching high and low for any natural food or supplement that is effective for allergic rhinitis, but yet safe for consumption during pregnancy or whilst trying to conceive.

I came across drinking diluted Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) water as a home remedy for allergies. I've always known the health benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar in aiding digestion and weight loss, but never quite heard of it being used for allergies until last week when I did a quick search online. I'm very encouraged by the many positive feedback from readers of Earth Clinic , Food For Thought Blog and Sarah Kovac's blog. There are a few others as well, but I've forgotten to bookmarked them. You can always do a google search to find out more.

The recommended dose from Earth Clinic:

1/8th cup raw unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar. Preferably organic.
Mix with 16 oz of water.
Sip it throughout the day.

You may add some raw honey for better taste and if you get some stomach upset from it, you may wish to add ¼ teaspoon of baking soda to help overcome it.

I have started this last Wednesday but not the full dosage yet as I've got a sensitive gastric. So I have started only with 1 teaspoon of Apple Cider Vinegar mixed with full cup of water and 1 teaspoon of raw honey. I plan to gradually up the dose. Although some have recommended taking it before food, this option is not for me due to my sensitive gastric. So make some adjustment to this concoction, based on your own body's reaction.

I'm using Bragg raw unfiltered Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar (see picture above). This is one that I've had at home as I use it for salad dressing at times. You can use other brands but the Apple Cider Vinegar has got to be raw and unfiltered to be effective. Remember, anything that is processed would lose its effectiveness as the enzymes are lost during the process. Same for honey.

This is a cheap and easy to make home remedy. Now I hope it will work for me and my allergies.  I plan to write about it later to gauge its effectiveness. Do check back!

Friday, 25 October 2013

Bad Breath Caused By Allergies & What You Can Do

This is quite an embarrassing topic, but who isn't had breath in their life before? More so for those with hayfever or allergic rhinitis. Admittedly, when I'm down with a bad allergy flare up, I try to avoid speaking close up to others, not just because of my non-stop sneezing, but also because of the less than desirable breath.

How do allergies cause bad breath?

#1: Dry Mouth. When allergic rhinitis strike, you tend to get dry mouth and its made worse by antihistamine medicine which usually list dry mouth as a side effect. When your mouth is dry, there isn't sufficient saliva to wash away the bacteria in our mouth. These bacteria feed on the remnant of the food sticking in our teeth. So without saliva doing its job to flush it away, these bacteria hang around inside our mouth and create bad breath.

#2: Postnasal drip. Those suffering from allergies should be familiar with this term. This is mucus that flows from the sinus cavities down the back of the throat. This is food source for the bacteria lurking there, causing bad breath. The postnasal drip can also become infected, leading to even faster growth of bacteria in the mouth.

How to get rid of bad breath?

-Drink lots of water! That's what I always do. In any case, with the horrible runny nose, you are losing a lot of fluid (via mucus), so load up lots of it to replenish as well.

-Drink tea. Tea is rich in polyphenol, which is found to inhibit the growth of bacteria in your mouth. Green tea, ginger tea and lemon tea are particularly effective.

-Eat more fresh fruits & vegetables, preferably in the raw form. Whenever I find myself having that stinking smell in the mouth, I look for an apple to munch and feel my mouth smells a lot better after that. Fibre-rich food help to produce saliva, thereby washing away the bacteria. Natural enzymes found in these fresh fruits and vegetables also break down sulphur compounds and help with the bad breath.

-Chewing on fresh herbs e.g. parsley, thyme, basil, mint etc. Fresh herbs contain chlorophyll, which helps to absorb odour.

-Ask your doctor for another allergy medicine that doesn't cause dry mouth

-Saline Nasal rinsing with a Neti Pot

-Using oral care products that get rids of  the bad bacteria in the mouth e.g  probiotic mints that loads up your mouth with good bacteria, leaving less room for bad bacteria to grow.

-Lastly and most importantly, if your post nasal drip is due to chronic sinusitis, you need to see a doctor to address the sinus issue first. When that is resolved, so will your bad breath.

Read here for more tips on getting rid of bad breath if you like.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Allergy Beddings Sale!

credit: AllergyStore
The AllergyStore is having overstock sale for their allergy and dust mite proof pillows. Buy 2 Standard Pillows at Regular Price and Get 1 FREE! If you or your family members are suffering from dust mite allergy and you've been thinking about getting one, this is a great buy. Sale is while stocks last.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Never Suppress A Sneeze - It Could Be Injurious, Even Fatal!

Sneezing is a daily activity for those who suffer from allergic rhinitis. In fact, those with allergies sneeze continuously and uncontrollably. It is usually quite forcefully as well due to the allergens irritating our airways.

Sometime back, I was talking to a relative about allergies and mentioned that when my boy was younger (before I had the anti dust mite bedding covers), I would try to contain my sneezes in the middle of the night as I fear waking him up. My sneezes are usually loud, and the quiet night would just magnify the loudness of it. The last thing I want is to have a dripping nose and still have to attend to my awakened child. Although my hubby would usually help out, I don't want the WHOLE family to be up just because of my sneezes!

My relative mentioned that its not good to contain your sneeze due to the pressure built up. Although it was just a casual conversation, her words made me sit back and gave some thoughts to it. As I did some research, I found out that indeed sneezing can be "hazardous" if you don't do it the right way.

These are the possible dangers of sneezing

-burst eardrums
-bitten tongue or cheek
-loss of teeth
-broken ribs
-slipped disc
-heart attack
-massive brain haemorrhage

Professor Adam Carey, a sports injury specialist, explains: 'There are two types of sneeze that can cause damage. The first is when a person sneezes violently and the force throws your body out of kilter.' That's called the whiplash effect - as your head moves forwards and backwards very quickly - and can cause all sorts of muscle strain or bone problems.

'The second type of injury is caused if we try to suppress a sneeze, before letting it out. The suppression causes a massive build-up of pressure in our head, which can cause injuries such as a burst eardrum, tearing blood vessels and muscles in the head, damaging the sinuses and even, in rare cases, brain haemorrhages.'

So how can we sneeze safely?
Tip from London-based physiotherapist Sammy Margo:

'With sneezing we usually anticipate it, so when you feel a sneeze coming you need to engage your abdominal muscles - that is, hold your tummy in - to withstand the whiplash effect of throwing your head backwards and forwards and so causing injury. If you flop into a sneeze, your body movements are out of control and this can overstretch the ligaments and damage muscles, joints and discs.'

A simple sneeze can travel at over 100 MPH and involves a LOT of force. So its best to just sneeze the way your body wants to as long as you cover your mouth and nose. Don't try to pinch your nostrils and mouth closed at the time. Let it out. Remember, suppressing a sneeze can be dangerous!

Credit: dailymail, yahoo voices

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Of Flu & Allergy...

Shortly after I came back from our holidays, I came down with the flu last week and have yet to recover 100%. No more runny nose, body aches and sore throat, but still the lingering scratchy throat at times and sounding quite nasal.

Perhaps I've indulge a little during our holidays or I could have caught the flu bug from my boy, but coming back to the hot weather in Singapore after being in a cold country for my holidays was definitely one of the trigger for my flu. I'm pretty prone to getting sore throat and flu, and this is despite me downing loads of water daily and eating quite healthily, abstaining from fried and spicy food. On top of that, once I get sick, it will take around 2 weeks to fully recover, i.e. no more lingering feeling in the throat and my voice is back to sounding clear and normal.

This makes me wonder if there is a correlation between one having allergies and a poorer immune system? I observe those around me who are allergy-free get sick less often and they fully recover in under a week's time. But from my online search, I don't see any scientific explanation for this, although a very simple explanation is that those suffering from allergies can be said to have some sort of immunity disorder, so its not hard to see why they come down with illnesses more frequently. The Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) doctors have an explanation for this which I will talk about in another post.

This year so far has been better for me than the past few ones, in part due to better rest as I was constantly sleep deprived during the early years of my growing boy. But compared to the allergy-free folks, am still way off. I would love to hear your comments regarding this topic, especially if you have allergy issues. Don't be shy! :)

Friday, 11 October 2013

Results of Allergy Survey - What Patients Say Works For Allergies

Source: 23andMe Research
This is excellent information on effectiveness of 75 different allergy treatments based on survey by more than 9,000 allergy patients. This is based on a four years study on allergies, put together by CureTogether — a free resource owned by 23andMe that allows people to share information about their health and treatments.

From the infographic above:
The top right quadrant shows both popular and effective treatments. Avoiding allergens is definitely the most logical (& effective) thing to do! Antihistamines, Zyrtec, Sudafed, Benadryl and Claritin also rank pretty high on the list of both effectiveness and popularity.

Those in the the top left quadrant shows treatments that not many people have tried but that have above-average effectiveness: Epipen, Prednisone, Xyzal and Cetrizine. The former two are for very severe allergy cases which explains why not many people have tried it. Xyzal is a relatively new drug that requires doctor's prescription and I think in some countries its the same for Cetrizine as well, so they are not commonly available unlike OTC allergy drugs like Zyrtec.

Effective but not so mainstream treatments like gluten-free diet and non-dairy diet (not shown here but its located near gluten-free diet. Click here to see hover over each dot to see what they represent) are worth exploring for those seeking alternative healing for allergies as they rank quite high on effectiveness.

The survey is still ongoing and the results will be updated live on this chart on their website. So its dynamic. The more people participating, the more representative the results will be. I encourage you to take this survey when you have some time as this would be useful for the allergy community. I also want to thank the folks over at 23andMe for sharing this information freely and openly.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Can Having Allergies Make Us Fat?

I saw this very interesting article Curb Allergies, Lose Weight and would like to share a few pointers from it and my thoughts as well.

Other than the allergy blues of sneezing, stuffy nose, itchy eyes, those who suffer from allergies are often deprived of quality sleep due to their allergy symptoms. So how does lack of sleep leads to weight gain?

Clarity Allergy Center's Dr. Brian Rotskoff explained: "Lack of sleep, whether caused by allergies or sleep apnea, leads to poor diet decision-making throughout the day."

He added: "Whether excess eating comes from impaired decision making or simply the desire to comfort ourselves during allergy attacks, associated weight gain is real for many patients."

Being an allergy sufferer myself, I can understand where Dr Rotskoff is coming from. When one is not able to get to sleep due to allergies late into the night, it is natural to be hungry as your body system is still working in full force and not resting. You will get hungry, that's for sure. For myself, I need to eat as feeling hungry just adds another factor into my inability to sleep. But I will only take a few mouthful of bread + water, just enough to keep my stomach from growling. Nothing too heavy or sugary. I think this discipline has helped me from becoming fat despite the lack of sleep due to my allergy! What about you? Do you need comfort food during allergy attacks?

In addition, a 2010 Yale University observational study found that routine antihistamine use could increase the odds of being overweight by as much as 55%. Some researchers speculate that the release of histamines during an allergic reaction could trigger increases in appetite and lead to more frequent or over-eating.

Ah ha, now I know why I do experience feeling hungry more easily when I take some OTC antihistamine! Do you feel the same?

So based on my personal experience, having allergies do increase the need to eat (due to lack of sleep and sometimes antihistamine), BUT if you make the right diet decision and stick to self discipline, then it is unlikely to make you fat :)