Thursday, February 27, 2014

Allergic Reactions What's All The Buzz About #health #allergies

Allergic reactions are sensitivities to substances called allergens that come into contact with the skin, nose, eyes, respiratory tract, and gastrointestinal tract. They can be breathed into the lungs, swallowed, or injected( like a sting)
Allergic reactions are common. The immune response that causes an allergic reaction is similar to the response that causes hay fever. Most reactions happen soon after contact with an allergen. Severe reactions usually happen within minutes to a couple hours after the contact.
Hives on the back of an acute allergic reaction- courtesy of WikiMedia 
Many allergic reactions are mild, while others can be severe and life-threatening. They can be confined to a small area of the body, or they may affect the entire body. The most severe form is called anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock. Allergic reactions occur more often in people who have a family history of allergies.
Substances that don't bother most people (such as venom from bee stings and certain foods, medications, and pollens) can trigger allergic reactions in others.
Common Allergens
Although first-time exposure may only produce a mild reaction, repeated exposures may lead to more serious reactions. Once a person has had an exposure or an allergic reaction (is sensitized), even a very limited exposure to a very small amount of allergen can trigger a severe reaction. These people need to carry an Epipen at all times. Your doctor can prescribe one for you to use.
For example you develop a small red rash after taking an antibiotic, your body produces a reaction to that medication and sensitizes you. You are now much more likely to develop a severe or life threatening reaction the next time you take an antibiotic in the same drug family as the first one.
What are we allergic to?
It can be: foods, plants, latex, medications, dyes, insects,animals,bee stings, fibers, soaps,chemicals, you name it.
Cockroaches are a major source of allergen exposure in inner-city areas. Of the thousands of species, only a few are important sources of indoor allergens. The German and American cockroaches are the most commonly encountered (shown). Cockroach allergens are derived from saliva, feces, secretions, and dead bodies. The allergens are similar in size to house-dust mite allergens (roughly 10 μm), and remain airborne for short periods of time. An association between cockroach sensitization and asthma exacerbation has been described and may be a major source of morbidity for inner-city, low-socioeconomic patients. An image of an American cockroach is shown courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Sometimes you can develop an allergic reaction to something and never figure out the culprit unless you have testing done.
Identifying a culprit allergen can be very difficult, given the wide variety of compounds that humans are exposed to on a daily basis. A number of grid-based skin tests are available. In prick, or scratch, testing a purified allergen is intradermally injected to evaluate for a response. This method is commonly used for pet dander, dust, pollen, foods, and house-dust mites. In patch testing, allergens are kept in contact with the skin via hypoallergenic tape for an extended period of time to assess for a subsequent allergic inflammatory response. This method is commonly used for latex, medications, preservatives, and metals. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Allergic Reaction Treatment from
Self-Care at Home
Avoid triggers! If you know you have an allergic reaction to peanuts, for example, do not eat them and go out of your way to avoid foods prepared with or around peanuts (see Food Allergy).
Self-care at home is not enough in severe reactions. A severe reaction is a medical emergency.
Do not attempt to treat or "wait out" severe reactions at home. Go immediately to a hospital emergency department.
If no one is available to drive you right away, call an ambulance for emergency medical transport.
Use your epinephrine auto-injector (Epi-Pen) if you have been prescribed one by your doctor due to previous allergic reactions.
Slight reactions with mild symptoms usually respond to nonprescription allergy medications.
Oral antihistamines
Loratadine (Claritin or Alavert), cetirizine (Zyrtec), and fexofenadine (Allegra) are nonsedating antihistamines that can be taken over the long term.
Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) can also be taken but may make you too drowsy to drive or operate machinery safely. It can affect concentration and interfere with children's learning in school. These medications should be taken for only a few days.
For rashes or skin irritations, an anti-inflammatory steroid cream such as hydrocortisone can be used.
For small, localized skin reactions, use a cold, wet cloth or ice for relief. Apply a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel as an ice pack.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Cardiac Arrest Vs. Heart Attack , Do You Know The Difference #february #heartmonth #gored

Lets get smart for our hearts, this month is heart month, educate yourself on your heart, stroke awareness and what your numbers are. Heart disease is a killer of women everyday, any of us could be next. Put on those red dresses and strut your heart healthy stuff!

Winter Dragging You Down: How Can You Stay Healthy #asktheexperts #healthtips

I was delighted to be included in this article listing some great tips to stay healthy during the long winter months. Along with some long followed professionals in the medical field I feel proud to have my tips and face included. Winter this year has been tough, here in the south we have had our share of ice, snow and low temperatures. The flu has claimed many here and there are still a few more weeks of winters long arms left to pull us down to our knees. Take the tips given seriously, even though many are simple ones. Simple tips are sometimes the best for your body.
Thank you to  Terpening Insurance for putting together this great post. 

Don’t Let Winter Drag You Down: 5 Tips to Stay Healthy

The winter months inevitably arrive with coughing and sneezing. A sudden change of colder temperature means runny noses and sore throats. You may feel like there is nothing you can do to stop from catching these symptoms, but prevention is possible! Feel your best this winter with tips from some professionals on how to stay healthy during this cold season.

1) Hydrate!

Brittany WilsonIt’s easier to remember to consume H2O in the summer when you are sweating buckets and parched from thirst. The cold winter months are another story. Although you may be tempted to fill up on hot chocolate, sugar will just make your immune system weaker. RN Britney Wilson, also know as The Nerdy Nurse, passionately shares how water intake keeps you healthy.
Stay hydrated! Drink water, water, and more water. There are so many occasions where you might be tempted to drink empty calories or sugar and sodium packed beverages that may satiate a craving, but are not fulfilling your bodies desire for straight-up water.
Often, indoor heating in winter will dry you out and dehydrate you. Keep a large bottle of water with you during the day, and by your bed to make sure you continue to consume water throughout the night.

2) Sanitize, Sanitize

Kathy QuanYou may have been told the importance of washing your hands since you’ve known how to talk, but it’s easy to think it’s something we only have to do after using the restroom or before eating. In winter months, it’s especially important to keep germs from being spread. Nurse Kathy Quan, founder of The Nursing Site, tells us how to properly use hand sanitizer when washing isn’t an option.
Winter tends to be a very busy time with holidays and all as opposed to spring and summer where people tend to relax more and the mood is more laid back.  In the hurry up mode, it’s important to remember to take care of yourself. That starts with good hand washing habits. If you use hand sanitizers, understand that they are designed to air dry and during this air drying process the germs are killed. Don’t try to wipe it off, let it evaporate.
It’s convenient to carry around a small bottle of hand sanitizer in your purse or even attached to your keychain. Make it a habit to use regularly throughout the day, especially when you’re in a public place like a grocery store. You never know who had their hands on that cart before you!

3) Get Your 40 Winks

Leslie BlockWe asked Leslie Block, a nurse of twenty-five years, and the editor of ER Nurses Care how to stay healthy during winter, and she emphasized the importance of rest and adequate sleep.
We all seem to be busy and forget that nutrition and getting enough sleep are simple things you can do to stay healthy. If you get run down, your body’s immune system is more prone to picking up the first thing that comes along.
A good night’s sleep will do wonders for your immune system. Listen to your body. Often you can tell when you’re coming down with something by your sudden fatigue. Take a nap!

4) Take Your Vitamins

Keith CarlsonThere are many natural supplements you can take to help prevent catching that bug everyone you know has. RN and Nurse CoachKeith Carlson shares his favorite.
In terms of staying healthy over the winter, I recommend drinking a lot of water, washing hands very frequently (especially when in public places like stores and gas stations), and getting enough rest. Zinc is very helpful, especially when you’ are sick or just coming down with something.
Vitamin C and Echinacea are also helpful and available in many different forms over-the-counter, including fruit flavored chews.

5) Be Good to Yourself

The bottom line is this: take good care of yourself! It is easy to keep going through your daily routine and ignore your body until symptoms come up, but prevention is the best way to have a healthy and productive winter. Follow these simple tips by staying hydrated, clean, well-rested and filled with good nutrition. Eat a healthy and balanced diet and stay active. You will not only survive cold and flu season, but thrive with more energy and life!

Read more here and check out more information on their blog

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Smashing Your Fears: Lung Leavin Day 2014

Today is a landmark day for a fabulous lady, "Heather Von St James", a mom, a wife, a woman and a fighter!

This post has been particularly hard for me to write due to my own mothers recent diagnosis of Stage 4 Lung Cancer ( not mesothelioma ). I am typing here bedside her bed in ICU as she struggles to breath and stay alive just one more day. My mom smoked for at least 50 years and I know she must pay the ultimate price now.

Heather on the other hand is a survivor of mesothelioma, a lung cancer seen with exposure to asbestos. She is a rare jewel, here is her story and why February 2nd is so special to her each year.


My name is Heather and I am an 8-year survivor of mesothelioma – a rare cancer caused by asbestos exposure. When I was diagnosed, I had just given birth to my little girl and was told I had 15 months to live. After undergoing a risky surgery, which required the removal of my left lung, I beat the odds and created Lung Leavin’ Day as a way to commemorate this day that changed my life forever.

Lung Leavin’ Day is now used to encourage others to face their fears! One important thing cancer taught me is the importance of acknowledging these apprehensions that prevent us from living life to the fullest extent.

Each year on February 2, friends and family gather at my house for a bonfire where we write our fears on plates and smash them into the fire.

This year, we are asking you to face your fears and raise awareness of this event by virtually participating in Lung Leavin’ Day!

I have created an interactive page that tells the full story of this special day, which can be found here:

What are you fears? We all have them....let's smash them today and celebrate Heather's day with her in celebration! A celebration of life!


Monday, December 30, 2013

Croupy cough- Barking noises, nighttime surprises

Croup seems to be on the rise early this season. I have seen many children brought into the Emergency Department with this scary ailment. Most commonly seems to awaken kids at night with this horrible sounding seal like barking noise. If you have ever heard a croupy cough or stridor coming out of a small child's mouth you will remember it well.
If your child wakes up barking loudly do you need to bring them to the Emergency Room? Well, that's a very good question. Not all children need to be rushed to the ER for a croupy cough. You can try a couple of things at home first.
Ask yourself these things first 

  • Does my child have a high fever? ( check it rectally if they can not hold the thermometer in their mouth well, of course you are the parent and you know when your child has a temp. Go ahead and medicate them for fever, it will help with discomfort also. 
  • Does my child have any breathing trouble, like retractions (look at them with no shirt on, does it seem like they are sucking in hard to breath?
  • Does my child have stridor-- a high pitched noise when they breath, not just the barky cough?
  • Are you freaking out and just don't know what to do (its ok if you are, better to bring them in to be checked out than not)
OK-- If your child is limp, lethargic and turning blue around the lips, call 911!! 
IF your child is happy, playful, and looks normal, but still has that terrible sounding cough- take a deep breath and calm down, its gonna be just fine.

Try these methods at home if your child seems ok at home first:
  • Turn on the shower water to hot--get the bathroom nice and steamy (of course don't put your child in the hot water) take your child in the bathroom and stay with them, help them to breath in the nice steamy air in the bathroom for around 5-10 min or so.
  • Take them immediately outside into the cool nighttime air (its ok, you are not gonna make them sicker doing this--no matter what your grandma told you) 
  • The alternating of the steam and the cool air will most of the time help stop the bronchospasm-like coughing  and help them calm down and settle back to sleep.
  • Don't medicate your child with any sedating cough syrups, alcohols or home remedies. Cool mist vaporizers or humidifiers in their room is fine. I use the old Vicks vapor rub on their chest and feet remedy myself (unless they are infants)
  • Call your peds doctor or advice line if you want more advice before traveling to the ER, they are a wealth of good information.
So What is Croup?? 

Croup is a condition that causes an inflammation of the upper airways — the voice box (larynx) and windpipe (trachea). It often leads to a barking cough or hoarseness, especially when a child cries.
Most cases of croup are caused by viruses, usually parainfluenza virus and sometimes adenovirus or respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).Viral croup is most common — and symptoms are most severe — in children 6 months to 3 years old, but can affect older kids too. Some children are more prone to developing croup when they get a viral upper respiratory infection.
Most cases of viral croup are mild and can be treated at home. Rarely, croup can be severe and even life threatening.
The term spasmodic croup refers to a type of croup that develops quickly and may happen in a child with a mild cold. The barking cough usually begins at night and is not accompanied by fever. Spasmodic croup has a tendency to come back again (recur).
Treatment of symptoms is the same for either form of croup.

Signs and Symptoms

At first, a child may have cold symptoms, like a stuffy or runny nose and a fever. As the upper airway (the lining of the windpipe and the voice box) becomes more inflamed and swollen, the child may become hoarse, with a harsh, barking cough. This loud cough, which is characteristic of croup, often sounds like the barking of a seal.
croup illustration
If the upper airway continues to swell, it becomes even more difficult for a child to breathe, and you may hear a high-pitched or squeaking noise during inhalation (called stridor). A child also might breathe very fast or have retractions (when the skin between the ribs pulls in during breathing). In the most serious cases, a child may appear pale or have a bluish color around the mouth due to a lack of oxygen.
Symptoms of croup are often worse at night and when children are upset or crying. Besides the effects on the upper airway, the viruses that cause croup can cause inflammation farther down the airway and affect the bronchi (large breathing tubes that connect to the windpipe).
Hope this helps you understand Croup a little better, have questions? Feel free to post in the comments.

Friday, November 29, 2013

A New Drug On The Block: Zohydro - another addictive substance

Frank Lewis

PDT Staff Writer

Anti-prescription drug abuse activist Lisa Roberts, RN, of the Portsmouth Health Department, says the Food and Drug Administration ignored it own panel and approved a new Hydrocodone drug called Zohydro which she says is 10 times more potent than Vicodin.

Roberts, speaking with the Daily Times from Michigan where she was serving this week as a presenter at their state Prescription Drug Summit, said, “They (FDA) continue to approve more blockbuster painkillers. Yesterday (Monday) they ignored their own panels recommendations and approved a new pure Hydrocodone product called Zohydro which has no built in abuse deterrent and is 10 times more potent than Vicodin.”

According to a watchdog report in the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, against the recommendation of its own advisers, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a new high-dose narcotic painkiller without an abuse-limiting formula and tested using a method critics describe as stacking the deck in favor of the drug.

Zohydro ER will be the first Hydrocodone-only opioid, and it will come in doses packing five to 10 times more heroin-like narcotic than traditional Hydrocodone products such as Vicodin, which combine Hydrocodone with over-the-counter pain relievers such as Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen.

Though the narcotic in Zohydro ER is designed to be released slowly over 12 hours, pleasure-seekers will be able to crush it, chew it or mix it with alcohol to unleash its full punch at once.”

The story said the November 2012 memo from the FDA’s own staff warned that the drug will be abused more than traditional Hydrocodone products. The memo compares what likely will occur with Zohydro to what happened with extended-release, Oxycodone-containing opioids.

“The FDA is too influenced by the Pharmaceutical Industry, and it is reflected in their decisions such as the recent discovery of the ‘Enriched Enrollment’ process to approve painkillers whereas, basically, people who experienced problems with opioid pain medication are removed from the clinical trials process insuring that these outcomes are favorable for the pain medication and those that manufacture them,” Roberts said. “The FDA charged the Pharma Companies $25,000 per meeting to be on this panel to help them enact Enriched Enrollment. If that’s not a fox in the hen house situation I don’t know what is.”

The Daily Times asked Roberts about an effort to combat “misuse and abuse” by the Food and Drug Administration in proposing new restrictions that would change regulations for some of the most commonly prescribed narcotic painkillers on the market.

The FDA’s latest proposal would specifically affect Hydrocodone combination pills, also known as opioids, which combine Hydrocodone with less potent painkillers such as Acetaminophen. One example is Vicodin.

Currently labeled as Schedule III drugs, these opioids would, if the reclassification proposal is accepted, be labeled as Schedule II.

This means patients would have to have a written prescription from a doctor, instead of a prescription submitted orally over the phone or via an internet-based delivery system, to access the drugs. And refills would be prohibited. Patients would have to check in with the doctor to get another prescription.

A Schedule II classification would also put manufacturing quotas in place for these Hydrocodone products. Pure Hydrocodone is already a Schedule II substance.

Drugs are categorized into one of five “schedules” by the Drug Enforcement Administration based on “whether they have a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, their relative abuse potential and their likelihood of causing dependence when abused.” Other drugs, such as Adderall and Morphine, are also labeled as Schedule II.

“When you wonder why your dentist gives you 40 hydrocodone for a toothache, or your knee doctor prescribes far more than he should, that’s because they’re under the impression that it’s not as addictive as Percocet,” Dr. Andrew Kolodny, president of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, told CNN in January when an FDA advisory panel first urged the administration to recommend tighter restrictions.

“That’s completely false,” he said.

In an online statement posted Thursday, the FDA said it “has become increasingly concerned about the abuse and misuse of opioid products, which have sadly reached epidemic proportions in certain parts of the United States.”

“I agree with Dr. Dr. Andrew Kolodny,” Roberts said. “In fact, many of us locally signed the Petition that PROP sponsored calling for the reclassification of Hydrocodone products. Although the FDA is finally doing something, it is inadequate and long overdue.”

Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT.

Just another addictive substance, needs to be classified as a Schedule II


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