Saturday, June 1, 2013

Orthovisc: Stop Osteoarthritis Without Surgery

Knee osteoarthritis is the progressive deterioration of the joints and cartilage brought about by the daily grinding and friction of bones. A normal joint have adequate supply of synovial fluid that cushions the cartilage and allows the bones to smoothly slide. Old age decreases the amount of synovial fluid in between the bones and it eventually results to osteoarthritis. There are other options on how to treat and manage osteoarthritis other than weight management (diet and low impact exercise), physical therapy and taking of mild pain relievers.

Some patients take nutritional supplements such as glucosamine (animo acids that repair the cartilage), chondroitin (a form of natural sugar that helps strengthens the cartilage) and methylsulfonylmethane (natural sulfur that is anti-inflammatory found in plants). They take these supplements in conjunction with their lifestyle change program. If the ailment continues to worsen health providers will generally recommend surgery (arthroscopy, osteotomy and knee replacement). For those who are not yet ready or do not want to have knee surgery they opt to have viscosupplementary shots such as Orthovisc or Anika Orthovisc.

Viscossupplementary shots work by supplementing the synovial fluids present in between the knee joints to reduce pain on the knees; for the patient to be mobile and be able to resume normal activities.

Orthovisc: A Review

There are other viscosupplementation drugs available such as Synvisc, Eufexxa and Halgan, but Orthovisc is the most preferred because it contains high molecular weight hyaluran that did not come from avian sources (birds). Therefore, it is safe to use for those who have allergies to eggs and chicken. It was approved by the FDA in February 2, 2005. Its effects will last for six months. There are no serious side effects reported about this drug except for slight pain on the injected area and inflammation which will go away in few days naturally. The shots will be given for 3-4 weeks with 7 days interval. Gradually the knee pain will diminish and patient would be able to walk around with no more pain for 6 months.

It is possible to buy Orthovisc online at the lowest discounted rate. is an online wholesaler of orthopedic and cosmetic medicines. This company sells Orthovisc from Canada and other brand name quality prescription at the lowest wholesale prices to licensed medical practitioners only. Buying Orthovisc online is very quick and easy. Just visit any online website selling drugs made from Canada.

Over the Counter Treatment of Seasonal Allergies

According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology seasonal allergies (aka hay fever) affect over 35 million Americans and results in 16 million visits yearly to the doctor. Symptoms often appear at about the same time every year and can include runny nose, sneezing, congestion and itching in the ears, eyes, nose and throat. Seasonal allergies are usually triggered by airborne pollen from trees grass and weeds and from mold spores.


An allergic reaction is the bodies over-reaction to substances in the environment. These substances are often called allergens because they cause the allergic reaction. The symptoms of an allergic reaction are very similar to that of a cold but a cold will usually resolve in 7 to 10 days while an allergic reaction can last for weeks or even months. Also the nasal discharge during a cold is often thick and yellow but in an allergic reaction it is thin and clear.


Treatment for allergies can be as simple as using over the counter products or it can include visits to the allergist for allergy skin tests and immunotherapy (allergy shots). This article focuses on over the counter therapy. If you do not find relief from these suggestions you should seek further assistance from your doctor.


When exposed to an allergen, the body responds in several ways, including producing extra histamine. Histamine causes inflammation, swelling, a runny nose, sneezing and itching. Histamine also narrows airways in the lungs (constricts bronchi) and increases stomach acid secretion.


This class of medications is a good starting point for treatment of seasonal allergies. There are several over the counter antihistamines available, many of which were once only available by prescription. They work by blocking the action of histamine in the body.

Antihistamines are generally separated into first and second generation agents. The first generation antihistamines are considered to be sedating while the second generation agents are commonly known as non-sedating. In reality, all antihistamines have the potential to cause drowsiness.

Some of the more popular first generation antihistamines are diphenhydramine (Benadryl), chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton), clemastine (Tavist) and doxylamine (Unisom). Doxylamine and diphenhydramine are so sedating they are commonly marketed as sleep aids. Clemastine is less sedating than these and chlorpheniramine is less sedating than clemastine. A benefit to these antihistamines is their ability to decrease mucus production in the nose due to their strong anticholinergic effects.

The second generation antihistamines include cetirizine (Zyrtec), and loratadine (Claritin). They are much less sedating than first generation antihistamines and are dosed once daily. They also have fewer side effects but as a result they are less likely to dry up a runny nose.

Check with your doctor before using antihistamines if you have glaucoma, prostate problems, emphysema, bronchitis or you are taking sedatives.


Since congestion is one of the symptoms of allergies, it makes sense to use this class of medication to get some relief. There are only two oral decongestants available over the counter. They are phenylephrine (Sudafed) and pseudoephedrine (Sudafed PE). They work by constricting blood vessels. This in turn results in shrinking of the nasal mucosa (the mucus membranes) allowing more air to pass, improving drainage and a less stuffy feeling.

Decongestants can also be found in nasal sprays such as oxymetazoline (Afrin). They can provide more immediate relief oral decongestants but the nasal sprays should not be used for more than 2 to 3 days due to worsening of congestion after stopping. This is known as rebound congestion.

Talk to your doctor before using decongestants if you have high blood pressure, heart disease, thyroid disease or diabetes.

Combination Antihistamine Decongestants

There are many combination products on the market. There may be a benefit to taking a combination product because the two classes of medications work together to improve symptoms. Have your pharmacist help you select a combination product that is right for you. As an alternative, you could buy a decongestant and an antihistamine separately and take both together. An advantage to doing it this way is you can selectively take one or the other or both together depending on your symptoms.

Nasal Irrigation

This is a good alternative therapy for seasonal allergies. It is an ancient technique of using a salt solution to bathe or wash the nasal passages. The theory is by washing away the allergens and mucus you improve normal function and decrease inflammation. 

Cromolyn Nasal Spray

Cromolyn nasal spray (Nasalcrom) is a less commonly used medication. It can be used in combination with other treatments. Cromolyn helps stabilize mast cells. These are the cells that over react to pollen or other allergens causing the allergy problems. Buy stabilizing these cells, they release less inflammatory chemicals such as histamine. In order for cromolyn nasal spray to be effective it must be used several times a day. Symptoms may take 1 to 2 weeks before they improve. Do not use to treat sinus infections, asthma or cold symptoms.

Local Honey

An alternative therapy for allergies involves eating 1 to 2 teaspoons a day of local honey. Local honey is defined as honey made within 30 to 300 miles (depending on who you talk to) from where you live. Bees make honey from plant pollen (often the same ones causing allergies). The theory is that continuous daily exposure to the pollen in the honey decreases the chance you will react to it when exposed in the air. Some people swear by this but the studies that have been performed do not support it.


There are lots of treatments available for seasonal allergies. If you suffer from seasonal allergies, start your treatment a few weeks before your symptoms usually start and continue through the allergy season. If the above treatments do not provide relief you will need to seek the advice of a doctor.

Here are a couple of good resources

Check out your local pollen counts 

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Cockroach Allergies - An Allergen on the Rise

There's nothing more unsavory than the thought of sharing your home with a metropolis of cockroaches. Yet, no matter where you travel-from the jungles of Brazil to the streets of New York City-there are few places that cockroaches will not follow. Notable figures in history were not spared from the grotesque plague of roaches-apparently Thomas Edison applied his know-how to construct a cockroach zapping device out of tinfoil and a large battery.

Though the idea of living with cockroaches is cause enough for dismay, if you also have a sensitivity to cockroach allergen, the situation could be life threatening. Cockroach allergy is associated with dangerously acute asthma attacks.

Roach allergies were first recorded in the early 1940's, when tests showed that after a cockroach crawled across the arm of patients with the allergy, a rash appeared on the skin minutes later. Since then, the number of allergic individuals has risen substantially. Statistics show that more children are allergic to cockroaches (37%) than to dust mites (35%) or cats (23%). The cause of the increase in sensitization is this:

  • The number of asthmatics has risen in general. In the past 30 years, the occurrence of asthma has become so common, that it is now considered one of the most prevalent chronic disease of childhood

  • More people are living in cities and urban environments, where the cockroaches thrive and spread. This increased contact causes sensitization. Inner city children have a higher rate of hospitalization for asthma-most believe that this number corresponds with cockroach allergies

  • More time is spent playing inside by children-video games, TV and other popular entertainments are indoors. For inner city children, physical safety can also be a reason for more time spent inside than out. Yet, being indoors increases the chances of coming in contact with cockroach allergen

The Effects of Roach Allergen:

The effects of roach allergies The allergen produced by roaches is a protein found on their bodies and in their saliva and droppings. An allergic reaction can occur when sensitized individuals inhale, swallow or touch traces of this protein. Continued exposure can cause asthma symptoms-and attacks triggered from cockroaches are characterized by their severity. Inhaling a small amount of the allergen can cause attacks that last for hours.

Cockroaches are often thought of as an indicator of a dirty environment-but this is not necessarily the case. Apartments, condominiums, row homes and duplexes can spread cockroaches from one living quarter to another, regardless of the cleanliness of occupants. Buying a piece of furniture from a yard sale can import the bugs into your home, yet even a new piece of furniture stored in a warehouse or kept with older pieces can be a vehicle for spreading roaches. Cockroaches are perhaps the most invasive allergen:

  • Studies have revealed that 78 to 98% of urban homes have cockroaches

  • Each home with cockroaches roughly has from 900 to 330,000 of the insects

  • Private, well insulated homes are just as susceptible to cockroach infestation as apartment buildings

  • Once you have seen one cockroach, you can estimate that there are already 800 hidden in your walls

How to Manage Roach Allergies:

  1. Remove cockroaches from your home. It is suggested that you contract a professional pest exterminator

  2. You can also use poison baits, boric acid and traps to keep new populations of roaches from moving in. It is advisable to avoid most chemical treatments as they can irritate the delicate airways of asthmatics and allergy sufferers.

  3. Store all food in air tight containers

  4. Do not leave food waste trash exposed-if need be, place it all in a separate bag and tie it off between filling it. Put food waste in outdoor garbage cans at the end of the day. Make sure that all garbage cans have tight fitting lids on them

  5. After your pets are finished eating, remove excess food and wash the dishes. Often the dog bowl doubles as the cockroach bowl

  6. To manage nasal and sinus symptoms, use antihistamines, decongestants and anti-inflammatory medications. Your doctor will also prescribe anti-inflammatory medications and bronchodilators if you have asthma

  7. If you symptoms persist or are severe, you should consider visiting an allergist and getting allergy shots. Over time this will reduce your sensitivity to the cockroach allergen.

What is the Underlying Cause of Cat Wheezing?

One of the toughest things we face as animal owners is the fact that cats and dogs can't tell us when something is wrong. The only thing we can do to stop serious health problems from affecting our animals is to watch out for the symptoms and get them diagnosed/treated right away. Cat wheezing can be a tell-tale symptom of feline asthma and is often easily treated by cleaning up their environment, while also possibly getting them on a cat inhaler to alleviate their symptoms.

Just like humans; cats can just as easily be irritated by dust, pollen and other allergens in the air. If they have asthma or other breathing troubles then an attack can happen very easily. Cat wheezing every once in a while can also be caused by hairballs, or other obstructions which can be dealt with by brushing your cat more often and getting a high-quality hairball reducing cat food.

Humidifiers are another way to reduce and prevent cat wheezing, which will make their quality of life better. Since only 1-2% of all cats develop asthma and other breathing problems, you may find that there isn't a great deal of information out there to browse. The fact is that breathing problems for animals and humans is on the rise due to increasingly polluted air, particularly in metropolitan areas and you have to watch your kitty closely to notice the signs.

If you find your cat wheezing on a frequent basis (every day or two), get them to a vet for an examination. For serious attacks your cat might be given a cortisone shot to open up restricted airways, then given an inhaler and perhaps a special diet to reduce their symptoms. As with any health problems, early detection will prevent damage to your cat's heart, lungs and other organs.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome May Be Due To Missed Celiac Disease Or Food Intolerance

Irritable bowel syndrome is the most common gastrointestinal diagnosis yet it is not really a disease nor does it have confirmatory diagnostic tests. Rather, it is diagnosed based on a constellation of symptoms and the absence of other diagnoses. Common symptoms attributed to IBS are abdominal pain, cramping, diarrhea, bloating and excess gas. Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity is a common but frequently missed gastrointestinal diagnosis. Ingestion of gluten containing foods in affected individuals commonly causes symptoms attributed to IBS that are relieved with gluten-free diet in at least 10-20% of people misdiagnosed with IBS. Other food intolerances are also a likely a cause of IBS symptoms that may improve with avoidance of certain foods.

IBS is a diagnosis of exclusion. Other causes of symptoms of abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, or alternating constipation and diarrhea should be excluded by doctor's review of medical history, a physical exam and some screening laboratory tests and arguably a colonoscopy. The other conditions that traditionally doctors are most concerned about excluding include inflammatory bowel diseases (ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease) and cancer. Less worrisome but treatable conditions that need to be excluded include lactose intolerance, intestinal infections especially parasites like giardia, and food intolerance. Celiac disease though now known to be very common, affecting approximately one percent of the U.S. population, has been largely ignored as a possible cause of IBS symptoms. Most primary care physicians are aware that diarrhea is a common symptom of Celiac disease but not that it may present in adults and be associated with constipation. Most doctors are unaware that the prevalence of Celiac disease in IBS patients may be as high as 20%.

Typical lab tests ordered by doctors screening for more serious intestinal diseases that may mimick IBS include a complete blood count (CBC) looking for signs of blood loss or anemia (low hemoglobin or hematocrit), signs of inflammation or infection (high white blood cell count and/or platelet count) and stool tests for blood (fecal occult blood test or FOBT) or white blood cells (WBCs or fecal leukocytes). The stool tests are looking for signs of bleeding, infection or inflammation of the intestine. IBS does not cause bleeding or intestinal inflammation whereas inflammatory bowel disease, infection or cancer may. Normal tests are reassurring though do not exclude more serious disease. Most gastroenterologists believe a colonoscopy should be performed.

However, most doctors, even many gastroenterologists, fail to test for Celiac disease though it is common and screening blood tests exist. The reasons for this are many and are more fully explained elsewhere. However, the common incidence, presence of screening tests, and available treatment should make screening for Celiac disease part of the standard evaluation of all patients presenting with symptoms suggestive of IBS before that diagnosis is established.

More recently, food intolerance other than gluten or wheat have been suggested as a treatable cause of IBS. Blood tests for a type of antibody known as IgG have been advocated by several researchers as being helpful for advising people about eliminating or avoiding certain foods as a treatment of IBS. Recent evidence suggests that a significant reduction of IBS symptoms can be achieved in people who avoid foods based on elevated IgG antibodies to foods. Atkinson et. al 2004 reported 10-26% improvement in symptoms in patients compared with controls. Deterioration was noted in those who relaxed their dietary restriction of foods they had avoided because of elevated antibody levels. These findings require further validation and are facing significant resistance to acceptance by many in the medical community, especially in the U.S. However, elimination diets have long been reported effective by many people. The possibility of food intolerance as a reversible cause of symptoms attributed to a syndrome with little other effective treatments (except mostly ineffective treatments in the past and very new medications with limited efficacy and unproven long term safety) should prompt further studies and an openness to dietary trials.

If you have been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome I recommend you confirm that Celiac disease has been excluded. Food intolerance should also be considered though testing may not be covered by your insurance and/or accepted by your doctor as valid. Elimination of common foods and their proteins causing intolerance, wheat, barley and rye (gluten); cow's milk protein (casein); soy; and peanuts is worth a try. Be sure to keep a food-symptom diary and re-introduce one food or food protein back into your diet at a time. One diet that effectively eliminates all the major food proteins causing intolerances but may be difficult to follow is the paleo diet (

1. Hoey. "Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Could it be Celiac Disease?" Can Med J. 2002; 166:479-80

2. Sander et al, "Association of Adult Coeliac Disease with Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Case-Control Study in Patients Fulfilling Rome II Criteria Referred to Secondary Care." Lancet. 2001; 358:1504-8

2. Atkinson W; Sheldon TA; Shaath N; Wharwell PJ. "Food elimination bsed on IgG antibodies in irritable bowel syndrome; a randomised controlled trial." Gut 2004; 53:1459-1464.

3. Isolauri E; Rautava S; Kalliamaki M. "Food allergy in irritable bowel syndrome: new facts and old fallacies." Gut 2004; 53:1391-3.

Managing Allergies During Pregnancy

Rhinitis during pregnancy can be due to allergic rhinitis, sinusitis, or non-allergic rhinitis. If the woman has had allergic rhinitis prior to pregnancy, this could worsen, stay the same, or even improve. This change in symptoms may be dependent upon many factors, including the presence of seasonal allergens and increase in pregnancy hormones.

Non-allergic rhinitis in pregnancy may also be due to an increase in pregnancy hormones, leading to nasal congestion, runny nose and post nasal drip. This is called "rhinitis of pregnancy". The symptoms may mimic allergies, but since they are non-allergic in nature, do not respond to anti-histamines.

The pregnant woman with rhinitis may be concerned about the safety of medications during pregnancy, and therefore avoid taking medications.

If avoidance of allergic triggers is not possible or successful, medications may be needed to control symptoms.

Diagnosis of Allergic Rhinitis During Pregnancy

Allergy testing includes skin testing or blood tests, called a RAST. In general, allergy skin testing is not done during pregnancy, given the small chance of anaphylaxis which may occur. Anaphylaxis during pregnancy, if severe, could result in a decrease in blood and oxygen to the uterus, possibly harming the fetus. Therefore, allergy testing is usually deferred during pregnancy, although a RAST would be a safe alternative if the results are needed during pregnancy.

Safety of Allergy Medications During Pregnancy

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), no drugs are considered completely safe in pregnancy. This is because no pregnant woman would want to sign up for a medication safety study while she is pregnant. Therefore, the FDA has assigned risk categories to medications based on use in pregnancy.

Pregnancy category "A" medications are medications in which there are good studies in pregnant women showing the safety of the medication to the baby in the first trimester. There are very few medications in this category, and no asthma medications.

Category "B" medications show good safety studies in pregnant animals but there are no human studies available.

Pregnancy category "C" medications may result in adverse effects on the fetus when studied in pregnant animals, but the benefits of these drugs may out weight the potential risks in humans.

Category "D" medications show clear risk to the fetus, but there may be instances in which the benefits outweigh the risks in humans. And finally, category "X" medications show clear evidence of birth defects in animals and/or human studies and should not be used in pregnancy.

Before any medication is taken during pregnancy, the doctor and patient must have a risk/benefit discussion. This means that the benefits of the medication should be weighed against the risks - and the medication should only be taken if the benefits outweigh the risks.

Treatment of Rhinitis During Pregnancy

Nasal saline. Rhinitis of pregnancy tends not to respond to anti-histamines or nasal sprays. This condition seems to respond temporarily to nasal saline (salt water), which is safe to use during pregnancy (it is not actually a drug). Nasal saline is available over the counter, is inexpensive, and can be used as often as needed. Generally 3 to 6 sprays are placed in each nostril, leaving the saline in the nose for up to 30 seconds, and then blowing the nose.

Anti-histamines. Older anti-histamines, such as chlorpheniramine and tripelennamine, are the preferred agents to treat allergic rhinitis during pregnancy, and are both category B medications. Newer anti-histamines such as over-the-counter loratadine (Claritin®/Alavert® and generic forms) and prescription cetirizine (Zyrtec®) are also pregnancy category B medications.

Decongestants. Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed®, many generic forms) is the preferred oral decongestant to treat allergic and non-allergic rhinitis during pregnancy, although should be avoided during the entire first trimester, as it has been associated with infant gastroschisis. This medication is pregnancy category C.

Medicated nasal sprays. Cromolyn nasal spray (NasalCrom®, generics) is helpful in treating allergic rhinitis if it is used before exposure to an allergen and prior to the onset of symptoms. This medication is pregnancy category B and is available over the counter. If this medication is not helpful, one nasal steroid, budesonide (Rhinocort Aqua®), recently received a pregnancy category B rating (all others are category C), and therefore would be the nasal steroid of choice during pregnancy.

Immunotherapy. Allergy shots can be continued during pregnancy, but it is not recommended to start this treatment while pregnant. Typically the dose of the allergy shots is not increased, and many allergists will cut the dose of the allergy shot by 50 percent during pregnancy. Some allergists feel that allergy shots should be stopped during pregnancy, given the risk of anaphylaxis and possible danger to the fetus as a result. Other than anaphylaxis, there is no data showing that the allergy shots themselves are actually harmful to the fetus.

Friday, May 31, 2013

General Medical Care in Shanghai

Shanghai has a reputation for having the best medical facilities in all of mainland China, and expats should have no worries in finding quality healthcare when needed Western-style clinics and hospitals have been especially set up to serve the ever-expanding expat population. Facilities at these institutions are improving every year, and some include 24 hour care and accident and emergency departments with trained international staff at hand.

A good number of public hospitals have set up VIP clinics, which cater specifically to expats. Foreigners are technically required to go to either a western-operated clinic or one of these VIP clinics, although some expats go to their local neighborhood hospital. VIP perks include English-speaking staff, a nurse that will escort you around the hospital, and no waiting.

Attending a public hospital means you will have to pay a registration fee before treatment; this can cost RMB 10 to 15 for local hospitals and roughly RMB 100 for VIP clinics. VIP sections vary - some will charge fees comparable to local services, but some will charge five times this amount.
If you're looking for a warm and inviting attitude from a doctor you should probably refer to the list of internationally focused western hospitals and clinics, where the doctors will be trained to provide the bedside manner you expect. Otherwise, Shanghai's medical services do not emphasize human relations, and you might find staff to be unfriendly, blunt or uncommunicative.

A reliable general practitioner (GP) can be good for annual check-ups and can serve as a reference whenever you have a health-related concern. When looking for the right doctor for you and your family, it's best to listen to the recommendations of your friends and colleagues.

Before you come to China, you're advised to get the following immunizations up to date: hepatitis A and B, tetanus, polio and typhoid. If you are considering venturing to more rural areas, you should look into getting a rabies vaccination and the series of Japanese encephalitis shots. Travelers from South America, central Africa and other vulnerable areas are required to provide a yellow fever vaccination certificate upon arrival into China. Be sure to consult your physician before you get the vaccinations; women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are advised not to receive any of the above immunizations.

Government Healthcare
There is no formal government healthcare system in place for Chinese citizens.
Uninsured and insured alike have to largely pay out of their own pockets. About half of Shanghai's local residents are part of the government's social welfare insurance plan, through which citizens pay an insurance premium via their employer and in turn receive money for their public hospital fees. For expatriates though, there is really no choice. Company packages will often include a comprehensive health insurance plan or individuals can choose to buy their own plan.

Emergency Services
If you can safely transport the victim without causing further injury, then it is almost always a good idea to find your own fastest way of getting to the hospital, either by driving yourself or by taxi. Ambulance response times are typically slow; Shanghai traffic does not yield to emergency vehicles and they may have trouble finding you. The ambulance service can be treated by dialing 120. The operator will most likely not speak English, so it's useful to learn a couple of Chinese phrases such as where you live and the address of whichever hospital you want to go to. Ambulance workers are not required to know basic procedures like cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), so you might want to fake a class yourself. is a good place to learn.

Before an emergency even occurs, you should work out a plan of action with your family. This includes deciding on a facility that is open 24 hours a day, calling to pre-register your details with the hospital (so you won't have to worry about paperwork during an emergency), and practicing an emergency run-through with your family where you drive to the hospital. Additionally, you can prepare an emergency folder listing all of your family's medical conditions, allergies, medications and surgical histories. Even if you primarily go to a western hospital, it's a good idea to have the folder's contents in both English and Chinese.

You also might want to make a card with the hospital's address and contact information that you and your children can keep with you at all times. Shanghai United family Hospital supplies cards that allow parents to give the hospital power of attorney. This can be important in avoiding delays if the child is brought to the hospital by someone other than their parent, and the parent is not available.

Private Healthcare
Private hospitals tend to be smaller, with friendly service and specialized equipment. Hospital bills at a private institution will generally be much heftier that a public hospital's and can add up to as much as a hospital fee in a western country. You may find yourself paying tens of thousands of yuan for a week's worth of tests and medication, even if you condition is not that serious, compared with RMB 1000 at a public hospital for similar treatment. A regular check-up costs around RMB 500, but will usually total RMB 1000 or more when basic medicine is provided.
Health Insurance

If medical insurance is not supplied by your employer, no one will force you to buy it. Rates vary dramatically based on your personal situation and what type of insurance plan you want to buy. For a free quote on expat packages, you can go through an insurance broker such as Bupa International or Expatriate Insurance Services. A basic insurance plan can be bought for as little as RMB 4000 per year, but premium annual insurance can cost as much as RMB 40000.

Many kinds of medicine can be obtained over the counter in Shanghai and prescriptions are rarely needed. Be wary of fake drugs or mislabeled products and always buy from reputable pharmacies that are government-run or associated with a hospital. Look out for bad spelling on packages and suspicious labels that appear inauthentic. Medicine will often be sold under different brand names here, so write down the chemical or pharmaceutical that you are looking for as well as the Chinese brand name.

In recent years, the government has tried to regulate over-the-counter medicines, so you should bring a prescription from your GP for antibiotics and more serious drugs. Painkillers, cough and allergy medicines, digestive remedies, skincare medication and vitamins or dietary supplements are all available over the counter. Huashan Pharmacy (12 Wulumuqi Lu; 6248 5674) have 24 hour service with a large selection of both western and Chinese medicine. Other pharmacies can be found throughout the city and are marked by large green crosses.

Many of the reliable brands you may be accustomed to using don't exist in Shanghai, so stock up whenever you're backing home. If bringing prescriptions from overseas, be sure to have a medical certificate from your doctor. Shanghai United Family Hospital's pharmacies can order and import special overseas medication for patients on an individual basis if necessary.

Health Check-Ups
Regular medical checkups are offered by all the major hospitals and clinics. Well-woman and will-man checkups are provided by some hospitals and clinics under the guise of 'health screening' services. Most of expat hospitals offer comprehensive check-up that requires two sessions to complete. The first session involves diagnostic evaluations that include an eye screening, x-ray, ECG, ultrasound, stress test, blood drawing and urine collection. The second session concludes with a physical evaluation by a health screening doctor, and a review of test results, as well as lifestyle counseling

Acupressure for Allergic Rhinitis

People do lots of things to treat hay fever. They get allergy shots. They take antihistamines. They rinse their nostrils with neti pots and they go on allergy elimination diets.

All of these methods work, but the easiest way of getting control over allergic rhinitis so you can breathe comfortably again is using acupressure. And the best thing about this method is you can do it automatically with the help of the right acupressure massage device.

Acupressure is a great way to treat a runny or stuffy nose when allergy season comes around. And you don't even have to go to a therapist to do it.

Here are the three things everyone needs to know about this ancient proven healing method for stopping nasal allergies almost as soon as they start.

1. No needles are needed for massage treatment of allergies!

This form of modern therapeutic massage was based on acupuncture, the ancient system thought to redirect energy flows around the body by placing needles at specific points. Here the idea is to use pressure, rather than needles, to accomplish the same changes.

Do you have to believe in the scientific validity of "chi" to use this method? Of course not! Use massage to treat allergic conditions because it works.

2. The results of this kind of therapy are very fast

Traditional Chinese Medicine called what we call hay fever a "wind evil." This meant that the symptoms came in on the wind (as pollen), and that they came fast as the wind, which is really fast. Fortunately, the treatment for a "wind evil" also works quickly. That's because neither the immune reactions that trigger rhinitis nor "wind evils" affect the body as a whole. Localized symptoms allow fast allergic rhinitis treatment.

3. You can use this method "in a pinch."

And "in a pinch" is a good way to remember one pressure point that can relieve symptoms fast. Grab the webbing between either of your thumbs and your index finger. Using your other hand, gently massage this area until your nose stops running, or your sinuses open up just a little.

If you are at home, you might also take off your shoes and massage the area between your second and third toes. Massaging these points is meant to relieve tension in your jaws and to expel "toxins" in your upper respiratory tract.

And if you have a special problem with runny nose, rub the area above your heels.

Environmental Control - The Best Treatment For Allergies

Three basic treatment options exist for allergy sufferers:

1. Allergy Medication

2. Immunotherapy (Allergy Shots)

3. Environmental Control

What Is Environmental Control?

Environmental control requires a bit of work on your part - it's not quite as easy as swallowing a pill or getting a shot - but it is the most effective treatment for allergies. If you can control your environment and avoid your allergens, then you will not experience allergy symptoms. It's that simple!

Environmental control may involve frequent vacuuming with a HEPA-filtered vacuum cleaner, encasing your mattress and pillows with special allergy relief bedding, running an air purifier, wearing a mask, or placing a dehumidifier in your basement. Your environmental control plan depends on the specific allergens to which you are allergic.

What Causes Allergy Symptoms?

Allergy symptoms appear after a sensitive individual is exposed to allergens. The most common allergens are proteins from plants and animals (although some people may be allergic to certain chemicals). Once an allergen makes its way inside the body, it sets off a chemical chain reaction within the immune system of sensitive individuals. This chain reaction, which includes the release of histamine and other inflammatory chemicals, leads to allergy symptoms - sneezing, watery eyes, congestion, etc.

How Do I Discover My Specific Allergens?

Before you can formulate an environmental control plan, you must know the substances that cause your allergy symptoms.

You should visit an allergist or ENT physician for allergy testing. In the most common method of allergy testing, an allergy technician pricks the skin with a tiny needle to insert a small amount of the allergen. If the patient is allergic, then the site of the skin prick will become red and swollen.

As another option that's more cost-effective and convenient, you can use MyAllergy Test in your own home. This easy-to-use kit allows you to collect a sample of blood (using a finger stick lancet) and send it to a lab for allergy testing. MyAllergy Test shows if you're allergic to timothy grass, bermuda grass, mountain cedar, short ragweed, mold, milk, egg whites, wheat, cat dander, and dust mites. If you want more extensive testing, you should make an appointment with an allergist.

Once you know your specific allergens, then you can start implementing environmental controls to help you avoid exposure to your allergens.

Dust Mite Allergy

Like villains in a microscopic sci-fi movie, dust mites are everywhere. They can live inside automobiles, deep within carpet fibers, and on furniture. Since dust mites feed on dead human skin, they tend to hang out where the shed skin collects: in the fibers of your bedding, mattress, and pillows. That's why it's vitally important to encase your bed with allergy relief bedding, also known as dust mite encasings. These encasings will keep dust mites from invading your bed. See the Allergy Relief Bedding Buying Guide to learn more.

You should also vacuum frequently with a HEPA-filtered vacuum cleaner. Vacuuming alone will not suck up all the dust mites, but it will take away their food. To kill dust mites in carpet, use anti-allergenic carpet powders and sprays. We also recommend using anti-allergenic laundry detergents and additives to kill dust mites and denature allergens in your laundry, especially if you normally wash your laundry in cold water. (Water must be very hot in order to kill dust mites, but you can kill them in a cold water wash by using de-mite laundry additive or Allergen Wash.)

If you have a dust mite allergy, you should monitor your relative humidity. Dust mites like warm, humid environments, and they cannot thrive if you keep the relative humidity below 50 percent. Monitor your humidity with a humidity gauge. If necessary, you can lower the humidity in your home with a dehumidifier.

Finally, although an air purifier won't eliminate the actual dust mites, it will eliminate excess dust in your home. To reduce dust mite populations, it's important to keep your home free of dust and clutter. If you can, replace carpet with hardwood floors and low-pile area rugs.

Stuffed animals also harbor dust mites. You can kill dust mites on small items like stuffed animals by placing them out in the sun for several hours or by putting them in the freezer over night. Or, you can buy washable toys like Gund Stuffed Animals.

Mold Allergy

As with dust mites, it's impossible to get rid of every single mold spore in your home. They're everywhere! However, using environmental control measures, you can greatly reduce the number of mold spores in your home and thereby reduce the frequency and severity of your allergy symptoms.

Like dust mites, mold requires a warm, humid environment for growth. Monitor the humidity in your home with a humidity gauge, and keep the humidity below 50 percent using a dehumidifier.

For protection while you're sleeping, Allergy Armor allergy relief bedding features a special antimicrobial finish that prevents mold growth.

Use M-1 Sure Cote Mold & Mildew Resistant Sealant to clean up mold around your home and prevent future growth. AllerMold and Vital Oxide are two additional household cleaners that are effective against mold but safe for your family and the environment.

Be careful when cleaning mold! If the growth is significant, you'll want to wear a mask, along with gloves and goggles.

HEPA air purifiers and HEPA vacuum cleaners also capture mold spores and remove them from your environment.

Pet Dander Allergy

We've already discussed several products that will help you avoid pet dander in your home; these products include allergy relief bedding, air purifiers, and HEPA vacuum cleaners. Allergy Armor Ultra bedding, for instance, blocks animal dander from your bed. Other products specially made for pet allergies include the Dyson DC17 Animal vacuum and the Austin Air Pet Machine air purifier.

If you own a pet, we also offer items to help you keep your pet's dander to a minimum, including the Pet Brush vacuum Attachment and Ecology Works Pet Allergy Shampoo. See all Pet Allergy products for more suggestions.

Of course, if you're severely allergic to a specific animal, the best advice is to stay away from that animal. If you cannot avoid spending time with an allergenic animal, try avoid touching your face, and wash your hands (or better yet, shower) as soon as possible. And keep all pets out of your bedroom!

Pollen Allergy

The main problem with pollen allergy is that you can't go outside and vacuum up all the pollen, nor can you stick an air purifier in your backyard and expect it to have any affect on the pollen level. When dealing with a pollen allergy, it's best to wear a mask outdoors. Watch your local pollen count and try to stay inside when the pollen counts are high. Once you get inside, shower as soon as possible.

Indoors, you can use HEPA vacuums and air purifiers to capture pollen grains. Be aware that pollen will find its way inside your home any time a door opens or window opens. If you want to get some fresh air without the pollen, put a Safeguard Window Filter on your window.

Sinus and nasal irrigation products also work well for pollen allergy sufferers because the saline washes away pollen grains in the nasal passages. The SinuPulse Elite is the world's most advanced nasal irrigation system, but a simple neti pot works well, too.

Sinusitis - How I Beat It- You Can Too

After two painful sinus operations, I was still coming down with infections. I had to find some real remedy to my sinusitis problem, as I was tired of taking antibiotics and especially tired of the dull, deep headaches every time I had an attack.

Sinus Operations- Try to Avoid

The operations were no fun. After the first one my nose was "packed". This means that in order to stop the bleeding, the ENT specialist/surgeon put a large amount of gauze in my nose, which means that one can only breathe through the mouth for the week or so of recovery time. In other words, swallowing and breathing cannot occur at the same time. This is a good way to lose weight, as one cannot eat much, but it is not a great way to live. At the end of this period, before pulling out the gauze, the doctor said "this will feel like I'm pulling your brains out through your nose". This was the most accurate statement he ever made to me.

Pulling what seemed like 6 feet of moist, sticky gauze out of my nose was an almost surrealistically painful sensation. But I thought, "if my deviated septum is now fixed, at least I can look forward to no sinus infections in the future, or at least a lot fewer of them. I was wrong again, as they started coming back after a few months. I changed ENT specialists since the first one put me through tons of pain for no gain. After a couple of years of treatment with this new doctor, I decided to take his advice and try another operation. Among other therapies, I had allergy shots during that time, even though I only tested positive for minor allergies to a couple of things.

My nose was not "packed" this time, but there was still plenty of pain. Again my hopes for an infection-free future were dashed when they started up again after a few months. So after two operations by two different ENT specialists, I said "enough is enough". For those considering sinus operations to fix things like a deviated septum, here's my considered advice: don't do it. At least try the nasal irrigation recommended by Dr. Murray Grossan which is explained below before you do. One hears about people who have had 5 or 6 sinus operations, and these either don't work, or if they do cause improvement, it doesn't last very long. Some people have told me that a sinus operation "fixed" their problems, but I am skeptical.

Tried Various Approaches for Years

Throughout my years with significant sinus problems, I had read a number of books and tried different products and approaches. One author I read early-on was not very encouraging. He said that certain things aggravated sinus problems, and one should simply stop eating chocolate, cheese and other dairy products. Also, he said that in order to be cured there could simply be no drinking of alcoholic beverages either. Sorry, he said, but that's the way it has to be. For a person who lived in France and who has come to enjoy the excellent wine and numerous cheese varieties, this was awful.

What kind of a life would I have without drinking wine and eating cheese? At that point I did have to stop drinking, as even one glass of wine could be enough to trigger an infection almost every time. After six months of this I got sick of drinking soda and non-alcoholic beer, which tastes pretty bad. In fact I was ridiculed in a restaurant in France when I ordered a Buckler's , which is Heineken's nonalcoholic beer. The French owner asked my why I would order such a ridiculous beverage with his excellent meal, and I explained I had sinus problems. He replied that he bad sinus problems too, and he got headaches every day, but nothing would stop him from drinking red wine! I actually admired his attitude, but the headaches were too painful, and I felt like I was on the search for "Lorenzo's oil", like the father in the movie of the same title that needed a certain rare oil to cure his son.

It was also through this author, an ENT specialist, that I first heard about nasal irrigation, but the system suggested did not work well. He sold a saline solution, but it was too strong and caused a burning sensation in my nose. He suggested a sort of long-nosed pot called a Neti pot to use to pour the solution into each nostril. This approach did not work nearly as well as the system suggested by Dr. Grossan (see below), and I was wrongly convinced that nasal irrigation was not effective. It makes a big difference how the irrigation is done and with what kind of equipment and saline solution.

Dr. Murray Grossan to the Rescue

I thus started doing more research on other books and approaches, and in the course of this I came across a book by Dr. Murray Grossan called "The Sinus Cure- 7 Simple Steps". In a nutshell, Dr. Grossan's system worked. His book contains many technical explanations about sinusitis and how to deal with it. He clearly explains the reasons for the problem and suggests numerous remedies including diet considerations, home environmental improvements like duct cleaning and humidity control, and the most important aspect of the program: pulsating nasal irrigation with a saline solution.

Use a WaterPik and Adaptor

When I first started following Dr. Grossan's advice he suggested using a WaterPik machine, and these have been sold for years as devices to improve gum and dental health. Dr. Grossan simply sold an adaptor and a saline solution, although one can use table salt. Although much more expensive than salt, I find that this saline solution is convenient, works well, and has no preservatives. I usually purchase a dozen containers at a time, and these will last up to a year with one application per day. One simply puts a spoonful of saline solution into the WaterPik tank and then about 16 oz. of warm water to dissolve the powder. Then the nasal adaptor is put into one nostril and the machine will gently propel half the liquid through one's nasal canal, and it will drain out the other side.

One then puts the adaptor in the other nostril and repeats the procedure on that side. This procedure is done while leaning over a sink. I then normally put more water into the tank and use the WaterPik on my teeth as it was originally intended, and I've helped my gum and dental health as well. My dental hygienist has made several comments about how much better my gums and teeth are when I go in for cleanings. The whole effort only takes about 5 minutes or so, including wiping everything dry. I normally do the irrigation once a day about an hour before bed, but if I happen to wake up with more than the usual congestion in the morning, I'll do it then as well.

The Easiest Way to Start

In the past couple of years Dr. Grossan has come up with his own machine for nasal irrigation. It is called the Hydro Pulse® Nasal Irrigation System. For about $89 plus shipping one receives the Hydro Pulse Nasal/Sinus Irrigator®, 2 Original Sinus Irrigator Tips ®, 2 Original Throat Irrigator Tips®, Breathe-ease® XL Nasal Moisturizer (this is the saline solution), and excerpts from,"The Sinus Cure" by Dr. Grossan.

This is the easiest way to start, as you have everything needed. If the system works well and you want to continue to do nasal irrigation on a daily basis, I would suggest purchase of a pack of one dozen saline solution boxes, as the price is lower per box and there is only one shipping charge to pay. Of course one could still purchase a WaterPik at a retail store and buy the Dr. Grossan's adaptor and saline solution to work with it. For information about how to purchase these items, and also how to download a free ebook written by Dr. Grossan, follow the links at the end of this article..

Other Medications

For many people the nasal irrigation system will be enough to control your sinus problems. Those of us with particularly significant sinusitis may need to supplement this with medications, and I use Flonase before going to bed each night as well. If I feel like I'm on the verge of a sinus infection I might take some zyrtec (an antihistimine) or if an infection seems imminent, I have my silver bullet, which is prednisone. I don't use much of the latter, however, as there can be side affects with this steroid. My doctor usually prescribes 10 pills of 20 mg each, and these last for about a year. I never take a whole pill and usually take 5 mg or 10 mg maximum at a time for a day or two.

I'm told this is a reasonable amount and nothing to worry about. Speaking of bad side effects, prior to discovering Dr. Grossan's system, sometimes desperate for relief, I used an over-the-counter spray called afrin. The warnings on the label say to use this product for only 4 days or less. This medication can damage the cilia in one's sinuses and cause permanent damage if used too much. As frequent users know, there is also an effect called rebound congestion, so after using it you might end up just as congested as when you started. Thus, people are tempted to continue using it, and it is said to become addictive. Dr. Grossan simply recommends that you throw your afrin into the garbage and stay away from it. I have not used it for years now and am glad to be rid of it.

I haven't eliminated sinus infections entirely, and I might come down with perhaps one per year. I'm more susceptible when very tired, or after long flights, as we often go back and forth to Europe for our tour business. When flying anywhere I make sure to take some kind of decongestant, normally the Flonase. I can enjoy wine, cheese, chocolate, and I really don't need to avoid any particular foods. Dr. Grossan's system has worked for me, and I certainly don't miss the deep, painful sinus infection headaches that used to be all too familiar. Dr. Grossan has lots of other advice in his book as well, and I definitely recommend that anyone with sinusitis read it.

Best of luck to all sinusitis sufferers. I hope this information will help improve your lives as much as it has helped me. Please don't hesitate to forward this article to friends and family who suffer from sinusitis.

What is an Asthma Trigger? Knowing Your Poison Can Control Your Asthma Trigger

An asthma trigger is something in the environment that triggers an asthma attack. If you're an asthma sufferer, an attack can be triggered when you become exposed to your particular trigger. When you become exposed to this trigger, you will experience an allergic reaction and your airways will narrow, so that you will have difficulty breathing. Triggers vary among sufferers, but some of the most common include dust, animal hair, and pollen. Whatever your particular trigger(s), it will require some detective work to figure out what your particular ones are.

To begin your investigation, start by keeping a log or diary of attacks. Note the time of day, what you were doing, and where you were when one happened. For example, you may have been vacuuming when you experienced an attack. In this case, it may be animal hair, dust mites and/or dust that trigger an attack for you. Another possible trigger may be cigarette smoke, the smell of perfume, or paint fumes. Outside, pollen, cold air or car fumes may be triggers as well.

Once you know what your triggers are, you can learn ways to avoid or at least minimize them. For example, if vacuuming triggers an asthma attack for you and you cannot get out of this duty, wearing a mask over your mouth and nose when you're vacuuming may minimize your exposure to dust and therefore minimize your chance of an attack. Medications will also help, and in some cases, your doctor may also be able to give you allergy shots that will greatly reduce your chances of an attack when you are being exposed to triggers. Certainly, you will be in situations where you won't know what a particular trigger is and therefore won't be able to avoid it. Therefore, medications and perhaps allergy shots are necessary regardless of whether or not you can completely avoid your known triggers in most situations. Allergy shots can build up your immune defenses and may ultimately negate some triggers, although the imperative term for asthma is "control" rather than cure.

What Are Surgical Staples and How Are They Used?

There are several different ways of accomplishing wound closure. Adhesives, skin closure tapes, staples and sutures (for example, Covidien or Ethicon sutures) are all ways of repairing lacerations and surgical incisions. Surgical staples and clips are a faster way to close skin wounds, and are more consistent and accurate than hand suturing.

Originally, the first surgical staples were composed of stainless steel. Staple cartridges were reloadable with titanium staples. Today, surgical staplers (like Autosuture or Ethicon staplers) can be made of disposable plastic, or are made of stainless steel and are reusable. The surgical staples are made of either titanium or stainless steel and generally came in disposable cartridges.

As with any wound closure product, sometimes staples produce an inflammatory tissue reaction or an allergic reaction.

Titanium produces less of a reaction than stainless steel. However, patients with nickel allergies should consult with their physicians, as titanium staples contain a certain amount of nickel and could produce a reaction.

Bioabsorbable, synthetic staples based on polyglycolic acid are also on the market. Similar to synthetic absorbable sutures like Vicryl, an Ethicon suture, it is hoped these will cause less tissue reaction. They are also used where permanent staples would not be desirable, for instance, cystotomy repair.

Internal and external wounds can be closed using staples. Normally, a disposable stapler is used to apply skin staples and is removed with a staple remover. Depending on the tissue and the anatomical location to be stapled, the staple line may be straight, circular, or curved. Surgeons prefer using staples in bowel and lung surgery as they are less likely to leak air, blood, or bowel contents. Intestinal staplers are advantageous because they compress wound edges, closing off blood vessels during the stapling process.

Removing staples is done with a staple remover and is a simple procedure. The physician cleans the area, and gently removes each staple by applying pressure to the staple remover so that it bends the staple, straightening out the ends and backing them out of the skin. A tugging or pinching sensation is normally felt but the process is relatively painless.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Cat Dander - 7 Answers to Questions About Cat Dander

Cat dander is an infamous allergy and asthma trigger that often stands in the way of a cat lover owning or even fully enjoying their cat. Here are 7 answers to questions about cat dander that will help you deal with it more effectively, own a cat, and allow you to enjoy the cat you already love even more.  

What is cat dander? In two words-- dead skin. All warm-blooded animals produce it, and it is nature's way of making room for new and healthier skin that is more able to resist disease and infection. Your cat will continue to produce dander as long as it is alive.  

Can you see it? Contrary to what many believe, dander is invisible with the naked eye. The human eye is able to see substances that are approximately 30 microns and greater. Dander ranges in size from .5 to 10 microns with a micron being defined as one millionth of a meter. And to give you an example of a micron's size-it takes more than 25,000 microns to make an inch.   

What makes it such a strong allergy and asthma trigger? It is actually the protein found at the hair roots and under the tongue (Felis domesticus allergen I) that triggers sneezing, itching, congestion and other symptoms that indicate varying degrees of sensitivity to it. As your cat grooms itself by licking its fur, saliva is deposited on its coat. When dry, it flakes off and can go airborne, or fall on everything in your home from sofas to curtains to the carpet on the floor. Inhalation of these sub-micron size particulates then causes a reaction.  

Are there cats that don't produce dander? All cats produce dander, and there is no such thing as a hypoallergenic cat. It is widely believed that some breeds produce less dander than others, but in an article by Steven Steinberg of The Dallas Morning News, Dr. James R. Richards, director of the Feline Health Center at Cornell University says, "I am unaware of any studies that show that any one breed is less allergenic than another, or that one breed produces lower levels of Fel d 1".  

Can I still own a cat? The answer to this question is a resounding maybe. The best way to tell whether owning a cat is a possibility is to spend some time with the cat you're thinking about adopting at various times of day, as allergy and asthma tend to be worse at night. If you are able to tolerate its presence without adverse side effects, then go for it. Just be aware that your tolerance level may change for better or worse, and that your tolerance level will differ with different cats.  

What can be done to lessen sensitivity to dander? There are a number of methods to reduce your symptoms including prescribed, and over the counter medication. You may also be a candidate for allergy shots that reduce sensitivity by slowly increasing the dander allergen over many months. The hope is that your body will react to it as less of a threat, allowing you to tolerate dander more comfortably.  

Can anything be done to  keep the dander down?   Fortunately, there are a number of steps that you can take. Consult your vet about shampoo and frequency of baths, and bathe your cat. Use a HEPA vacuum to remove it from the floor, furniture, and window treatments. Use a HEPA air purifier to remove cat dander from the air.

Allergy Sufferers Find Help Through Naturopathic Means

American television programs of the 1950s taught simple axioms such as Clear Fences Make Good Neighbors and If You Don't Have Anything Nice To Say, Don't Say Anything At All. In that simple golden era, severe allergies were extremely rare among the population, so something like a potentially lethal bee sting provided more than enough material for a thirty-minute comedic episode.

Since then, television has become less wholesome, ethics and plotlines more complex, and severe allergies more common. In fact, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that 60 million Americans suffer from allergies, and the CDC and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases both report that the number of Americans with allergies has been on the rise for the last ten years.

Various aspects of the modern lifestyle could be to blame. Some say climate change due to global warming has elongated blooming seasons, creating especially intense periods when different species' pollen release periods overlap. A Harvard University study suggests that trees may also be releasing more pollen in response to increased levels of carbon dioxide. Increased indoor and outdoor pollution, stress, and diets high in processed foods and low in fiber may contribute to higher incidence of allergies. Finally, some follow the "hygiene hypothesis," that our increased use of anti-bacterial products has worked all too well: everything in our homes and offices is so free of germs nowadays that our bodies are effectively defenseless against newer, nastier bacteria.

Whatever the cause, as the number of allergy sufferers rises, more and more are opting for naturopathic treatments, and turning away from the quick fixes promised by allergy pills or shots. Some choose naturopathy to avoid irritating side effects. Others have found that homeopathic approaches treat symptoms as well as the underlying causes of their allergies. Scientists aren't yet sure why naturopathic methods can often achieve similar, if not better results, than traditional western medicine, but it may have something to do with the breadth of the naturopathic approach, which considers emotional, mental, and whole-body health, rather than limiting treatment to isolated symptoms.

Unfortunately, without enlisting a professional, it's not always easy to find naturopathic treatments for specific allergies. To help our readers, we've compiled the following treatment information for various allergies.


Whether you know your special pollen allergen or simply explain your rasping cough and red eyes as "hay fever," homeopathic methods can help. Many naturopathic experts recommend increasing your fish intake because omega-3 fatty oils have been shown to reduce allergy symptoms. Walnuts, flax seeds, and dark leafy greens are alternative sources of omega-3; a daily supplements are also an option. Try naturopathic eyedrops to naturally soothe itchy, red eyes. Many turn to acupuncture and/or herbs, including nettle and green tea, to knock out their allergies. Flushing the nasal passages regularly with a mixture of warm water and a pinch each of baking soda and sea salt is also a common treatment. Use a spray bottle, nose dropper, or neti pot for application. For a special treat, add a drop of soothing eucalyptus or invigorating tea tree essential oil. Finally, a few precautionary steps, such as regularly cleaning and showering after pollen exposure, could reduce your symptoms.

More Homeopathic Remedies: Arsen Alb, Euphrasia, and Pulsatilla. Essential oils and other applications for each may be found online or at natural food stores.

Molds, Dust Mites and Animal Dander

If you suffer from allergies, your home can be your worst enemy. After all, outside pollens and molds are reduced during cold winter months, but indoor allergens can thrive year-round, an especially nasty prospect given that molds, dust mites, and animal dander are the trigger for many symptoms of asthma. Before you medicate, create a clean, dry environment-without skin dander or moisture, allergens can't survive long. Aim to eliminate as many breeding grounds-such as unnecessary rugs, pillows, and cloth window treatments-as possible. Commit to washing your bedding and remaining rugs in very hot water once a week, along with stuffed animals. Also consider keeping pets out of the bedroom, so that their allergy-inducing dander can't become embedded where you spend half of your life. Last, mattress covers, sometimes called mattress protectors or mattress encasements, are an impenetrable line of defense against allergens, as they effectively block allergens from reaching you and their food supply (your dead skin). These same encasements can be purchased to protect your pillows and crib mattresses as well.

More Homeopathic Remedies: Homeopaths often recommend Arsen Alb, Sabadilla, American Stinging Nettles or Perilla to relieve symptoms associated with dust mite allergies. If, after a clean environment is created in and around your bed, allergies still seem to persist at home, consider asking your doctor or naturopathic expert about taking these supplements.

~Ben Anton, 2008

Just What Exactly is Dog Allergen?

So, maybe you or someone you love has been diagnosed as allergic to dogs. The term "dog allergen" may have been bandied about a bit, but if you're still a little vague on exactly what it is, read on, and you'll know in just a few short minutes!

* There are two main dog allergens: Can F1, found in dog saliva, and dog albumen, found in canine blood.

* Dog allergen is fairly commonplace, so even if you don't have pets, the allergen might be lurking in your place of work, your school, or other places you visit.

* Because dogs are bathed however, there is way more cat allergen out there than dog allergen, which may explain why so many people have problems with cat allergies!

* Amazingly enough, far from stimulating allergies in infants, exposure to dogs from a young age has actually been shown to reduce the likelihood of dog allergies later in life!

* If, however, a child (or adult) has already developed an allergy or asthma, exposure to dog allergies may worsen the problem.

Now that you know what dog allergen is, the tricky part is avoiding it, and the nasty allergy symptoms that accompany exposure. Of course, if you live with a dog, and can't bear to part with him or her, you may need allergy shots or medication to lessen effects, but there are other things you can do to try and limit your exposure to this allergen:

* Make sure your dog is neutered. Un neutered dogs may urinate inside your home, adding to the dog's allergen problem, and making your symptoms worse!

* Bath your dog weekly, or even twice a week, to remove the dog allergen that adheres to his coat. In between baths, each day, you can wipe him with a wet cloth to help minimize the presence of the allergen in your house.

* Don't allow the dog in your bedroom, and never in the bed! His allergen where you sleep will play havoc with your allergies!

* A HEPA filter and HEPA vacuum cleaner should help remove traces of dog allergen from the air, and the general environment.

* Vacuum your home frequently, and keep dogs off upholstered furniture.

* If all else fails, and allergies worsen, you may have no alternative but to rehome your dog.

* Remember that this type of dog allergy can survive in nooks and crannies of your home for months after your dog is no longer there. Likewise, if you move into a new home, the dog allergen from the previous owner or tenants pets may still be there.

Dog allergen is the microscopic molecules that cause your body's immune system to trigger an allergic reaction. While it's possible to limit this allergic reaction, even while owning a dog, it is a little more work, but if you're serious about keeping your dog, and your allergies are not that severe, you should be able to work around the dog allergen problem, and enjoy many years with your best friend.

How to Treat Flea Bites on Dogs

Besides being irritating and itchy, flea bites on dogs can affect their health and their owners who may also suffer from the bites. There are various dog flea treatment methods that range from purchasing products on the market to home remedies. The method used should not only soothe these bites but also remove the problem itself.

Flea bites cause red, swollen eruptions that canines cannot help but bite and scratch when itchy. This causes rashes and open sores which could become infected and require antibiotics. Some dogs are allergic to the flea's saliva and may need steroid shots or antihistamines to soothe pain and swelling.

A popular preventative measure to vacate fleas from the family pooch is the use of flea medication such as Frontline Spot On or Advantage. The former kills fleas within twenty four hours by paralysing their central nervous system. The ingredients in the latter accomplishes the same task but in only twelve hours. This brand also prevents flea eggs from hatching. There are also pills for dogs that are prescribed by veterinarians if they cannot tolerate the liquid medicine on their sensitive skin.

Flea collars worn in addition to the regular collar are made with flea-deterring chemicals and are also very effective. Pets needing immediate attention benefit from being bathed with flea shampoo and using a flea comb to remove these pesky parasites. There are also groomers who will perform a flea dip which is a bath with stronger chemicals.

Although these methods will remove or prevent further infestation, there are home remedies that can be applied to soothe bites, deter fleas, or both. Itchy, sore areas can be instantly calmed by washing with warm water and dog shampoo. Shampoos with citrus oils are gentle and effective for both calming irritation and deterring fleas. If there are no open sores, a half cup of apple cider vinegar combined with two quarts of water can be used as a rinse to soothe these irritated areas. Hydro cortisone cream or ointment should be used on any open wounds to reduce swelling and itching.

Since lemons are a natural flea cure, the peel from one lemon or lemon quarters are placed in a cup of water that has been boiled. After sitting overnight, the lemon water is applied with a wash cloth or poured in a spray bottle and sprayed on the affected areas. Another method is to make a paste from water and baking powder and directly apply on the bites to ease pain and swelling.

Soaking a bandana in essential oils such as eucalyptus, tea tree, citronella, lavender, and geranium provides a homemade, natural flea collar that lasts one week before needing to be resoaked. Bathing the canine with peppermint, cedar, rosewood, or lemon grass oil creates a protective barrier on their skin. A few drops of lemon oil or rosemary oil on their collar on a weekly basis also prevents infestation.

Implementing a dog flea treatment prevents serious health issues from resulting in the future. Infected skin sores, hair loss from scratching and biting, tapeworms from ingested fleas, or anemia caused by fleas feeding on their blood are just a few of the concerns that owners may have to face if proper attention is not given to their pet.

Natural Allergy Relief For Oak Pollen

Oak pollen allergy sufferers are quite familiar with the huge amounts of pollen that oak trees produce and the allergy symptoms that occur when oak pollen is high. The oak pollen pods resemble little worms and they release their pollen to be carried by the wind, while the pods fall and accumulate on the ground, almost like orangish-brown fuzzy snow.

During the oak pollen season, the effects of the pollen are everywhere, with cars and windows covered with the orange-brown film the pollen creates. Even pavement where the spent pollen pods accumulate will get stained brown. Those suffering from oak pollen allergies can experience severe reactions. Massive sinus drainage, watery eyes, sneezing, and/or coughing will develop that can defy almost any allergy treatment available, at least until the oak pollen subsides.

Severe oak allergy reactions can motivate sufferers to turn to every remedy they can think of, including drastic measures like steroid injections. Some will decide to handle the situation once and for all by starting allergy shots, even though the needles are less than pleasant, without realizing that it often takes years to finally get results.

Many oak allergy sufferers will seek out natural relief from treatments like nutritional supplements, herbal remedies, homeopathy and/or acupuncture, and all of these forms of treatment will provide some degree of temporary relief for the majority of people. But what if there was a way to do more than just suppress allergy symptoms?

But what if there was another way to deal with allergies that gets rid of the problem long-term as seen with allergy shots, but gets results in days and doesn't require getting stuck with needles repeatedly? Well, there actually is a way to do this, using "energy medicine" techniques.

The most widely-practiced of these natural allergy relief methods is NAET, which stands for Nambudripad's Allergy Elimination Technique. Dr. Devi Nambudripad is a chiropractor and acupuncturist from California who accidentally discovered how stimulating specific acupuncture meridians while being exposed to the allergens one reacts to can reset the body so that it no longer reacts to those allergens.

Since NAET was first developed in the 1980's, other similar techniques have been developed that are more streamlined, but NAET is still the most popular. All energy-based allergy elimination techniques are definitely strange and can seem like they are too good to be true, but in eight years of practicing Allergy and Sensitivity Elimination and Reprogramming Technique (ASERT), a newer, more efficient version of allergy elimination based on the underlying principles of NAET, I have found it to be extremely effective on even the most severe and chronic of allergy sufferers.

Because these techniques are so strange and because I practice in San Antonio, an area where a high percentage of the population is still extremely skeptical of alternative medicine, I do the allergy desensitization on people and let them experience the results before they pay me. I use the honor system with regards to the allergy elimination procedure I use in my office - I do the full allergy elimination procedure and patients pay me after the fact when they are satisfied that the treatment was effective for them. The vast majority send me checks or call me with a credit card number, which I think is a dramatic testament to the effectiveness of this technique.

The great part about these techniques is that the results occur quickly. In the case of seasonal allergies like those to oak pollen, symptoms may be severe for weeks at a time, so allergy sufferers seek out some form of natural allergy relief that takes effect quickly, rather than a treatment approach like allergy shots that can take years to be effective, and rather than treatments that have potentially serious side-effects such as steroid drugs. Energy-based allergy elimination provides relief within a day or two and does so without the risk of side-effects.

Better yet, the effects of energy-based allergy elimination last for several months to several years because these techniques actually get rid of the allergies, not just suppress allergy symptoms and inflammation. So, oak allergy sufferers can usually go through multiple oak seasons without any problems without ongoing treatment after going through the allergy desensitization.

Although NAET practitioners often claim that the effects of NAET are permanent, which they may be in some cases, it has been my experience that allergies can re-develop, particularly after somone is sick with a cold or flu, or suffers a major trauma during a high pollen season. It appears that the body may develop allergies in a "guilt by association" manner in which an activation of the body's immune system and inflammatory response from something other than pollen may become associated with the presence of a given allergen, thus triggering a reaction to the allergen. In other words, if you catch the flu during a time when oak pollen is high, it is not unusual to develop oak allergies.

In any case, energy-based allergy desensitization is very much for real, and it offers fast, effective natural allergy relief for oak pollen allergies, as well as any other type of allergy (including airborne allergens, foods, and skin-contact allergies).

Revision Rhinoplasty - Non Surgical Options - A Shot For Bad Nose Jobs!

"I had a bad nose job! I'm scared to get another operation! Is there anything else that can be done?!"

Non Surgical Rhinoplasty (Injection Rhinoplasty, Non Surgical Nose Job) is an option that is safe, effective, inexpensive, relatively low risk and easy to undergo. It is not the right option for every rhinoplasty revision, but it certainly deserves consideration.

Most of the time, surgical rhinoplasty is performed well, by competent surgeons and the patient ends up with a cosmetic result that is satisfactory. This article is not about that kind of situation.

Many patients feel that the only way to correct an unsatisfactory surgical result is with more surgery. This is not necessarily the case. All surgery causes some degree of scarring, some of which is hard to anticipate, even by the best surgeon. There is always some element of risk that a surgical rhinoplasty will not turn out exactly the way it is planned. This risk is considerably greater in revision surgery. The surgeon is working with tissues and planes that have been altered and scarred. The procedure becomes much more complicated and risky each time it is revised. Sometimes, surgical revision is really the best option. Sometimes, however, a simple filler injection can solve the problem.

The FDA has approved several excellent fillers that can be used to correct post rhinoplasty cosmetic defects. These fillers are safe, relatively cheap and do not incur lengthy recovery time when they are injected. Juvederm or Restylane are the most commonly used hyaluronic acid (HA) fillers. These can be injected under the nasal skin to fill out minor asymmetries or indentations left over after surgery. The advantage of these fillers is that they can be easily reversed with hyaluronidase if the patient is not satisfied. HA fillers are soft and look and feel natural. The downside of using these fillers is that they are not firm enough to withstand much tension if injected into an area that is scarred. They should be used only if there is not much scarring and the correction needed is very minor. Correction with HA fillers lasts about 6 to 8 months.

Radiesse is a filler containing calcium hydroxyapatite particles. The material is fully biocompatible (no allergic reactions) because it is the same calcium that is in the teeth and bones. Radiesse is injected deep into the nasal skin and is strong enough to keep its shape even when injected into areas of scarred tissue. It is not reversible, but when used by an able and experienced physician, Radiesse gives great correction. It can be used in any area of the nose, from the radix at the top to the nostrils and tip. Correction should be done over several sessions, taking care not to over-inject skin that has already been weakened by surgery. The danger of over-injecting post-rhinoplasty skin, especially in the tip area, is that the filler will compromise the blood supply to the skin and damage it. The cosmetic results of Radiesse injection last for 10 to 14 months.

The other filler that is being used in the nose currently is called Artefill. It is currently the only FDA approved permanent injectable filler. Because it is permanent, it should only be used by the most experienced injectors of the nose. Artefill is injected similarly to Radiesse, but over more sessions. The best way to inject is in a gradual layering of the product over 4 or 5 months. Once the desired effect is achieved, results are permanent. Artefill is composed of methyl methacrylate in a bovine collagen carrier. Currently, skin testing is required prior to Artefill injection to make sure that the patient does not have a rare allergy to bovine collagen.

Non surgical revision rhinoplasty options are available and, with the right doctor, can be an outstanding solution. As always, make sure that the doctor is experienced, ask to see before and after photos of his or her work and be certain that you are communicating your concerns and aesthetic goals as clearly as possible. You should always feel comfortable that the doctor understands exactly what YOU want and do not want.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Better Way to Stop Allergic Rhinitis than Taking Shots

You wouldn't think that Japan and central Texas would have much in common. They clearly have very different landscapes. They are almost polar opposites in cuisine and culture. And even the best English-speakers from Japan have to listen very carefully to understand Texas speech.

A common health condition in both locations, however, is allergy to cedar fever. Known as "kafunso" in Japan and as "cedar fever" in Texas, approximately 10 million people in both locations suffer from tree pollen allergies in the winter and early spring.

Cedar and juniper trees are abundant in both locations. Japan planted cedars to reforest hills burned during wartime. Texans planted "cedars" to replace trees eaten by hordes of goats. Both locations have vast areas covered by a single kind of fast-growing tree, about 12 per cent of the total land surface of Japan, and about 12 per cent of the total land surface of Texas.

The symptoms of tree pollen allergies are likened to having a non-infectious case of flu for six to eight weeks each and every year. And it's very hard to function if you have to take antihistamines and nose sprays for that long.

Treating tree pollen allergies with allergy shots

Since the 1960's, Texans have been getting treatment for tree pollen allergies with allergic desensitization shots. Japanese allergy sufferers will be able to get the treatment in 2014, but this is not necessarily a good thing.

"Allergy shots" have been around since 1910. The idea behind the method is that if the body is exposed to an extremely tiny amount of the offending substance by injection, it won't react. More and more concentrated injections are given over a period of months until, it is to be hoped, the allergy sufferer no longer has any allergies at all.

There is one major downside to this technique. If the "shot" contains too much of the allergen, potentially fatal anaphylaxis can result. Texans used to be given vials of anti-allergy serum and taught to given themselves injections at home, until too many users of the shots were dying of anaphylactic reactions.

Do allergy shots really work?

Another question about this technique is whether it really works. Identifying exactly the right pollen for making the serum requires a lot of work, so patients usually get a "one mixture treats all" serum that the allergist hopes contains the right pollen. Maybe it does, and maybe it doesn't.

The other issue is that allergies can go away on their own, without any discernible reason, and they can come back on their own, also without any discernible reason. You can take a long, expensive course of treatment for an allergy that you were going to get over with or without taking shots, and you can also develop a new allergy "out of the blue."

Shots have their limitations, and medications have their limitations. So what is an pollen sufferer to do?

Treating allergic rhinitis with massage.

One of the oldest therapies for allergies is acupressure. Applying gentle pressure to predetermined points on the body, acupressure is sometimes explained as interrupting, amplifying, diminishing, or redirected the flow of the vital force "chi" throughout the body. But you don't have to understand or accept Traditional Chinese Medicine for acupressure to work for you.

Vitamin B12 Consumption Comes With a Small Rate of Negative Side Effects

Vitamin B12 is a water soluble vitamin necessary for a natural cell process. It is just a component of a list of cobalt that contains B complex nutritional vitamins that happen to be also referred to as cobalamins. Just like some other B nutritional vitamins, vitamin B12 is very important for the metabolic processes. It can also help with the development of red bloodstream cells as well as in preserving the central nervous system. It can be present in the majority of food items that can come from animal goods such as lean meats, seafood, and shell seafood, meat and milk products.

Unwanted Side Effects - the good thing is that vitamin B12 is normally non-toxic, no matter if consumed in massive dosages. On the other hand, individuals have encountered a number of negative effects, despite the fact that these types of unwanted effects are usually uncommon. Frequently, any time vitamin B12 health supplements are consumed orally, and then there may be small possibility of side effects taking place. A lot of people prefer to take vitamin B12 being used through a shot. This kind of B12 consumption has been linked to the next unwanted effects:
* mild diarrhea;
* panic attacks and anxiety;
* a pounding heart;
* sleeping disorders;
* difficulty in breathing;
* chest soreness;
* skin break outs, hives or scratchy inflamed skin

Many health care professionals assume that sufferers develop these types of side effects not as a result of B12, but as a result of chemical preservatives which can be a part of the shot formula. At this moment, the majority of shots incorporate chemical preservatives. To remain on the risk-free part, it is usually preferable to just take B12 orally.

Medical ailments - some other side effects could be gone through by those who have hypersensitivity or perhaps an allergy to cobalamin and cobalt. If this sounds like the situation, then it is recommended to stay away from vitamin B12 supplements completely and as an alternative look for to consume the food items which contain naturally sourced B12. On top of that, B12 needs to be definitely avoided by persons struggling with Leber's disease, a genetic disorder wherein the optic nerve wastes apart. Consuming vitamin B12 can in fact accelerate the atrophy of the optic nerve leading to fast loss in central eyesight.

Additionally, there is proof to claim that sufferers who have gone through heart surgery and were given coronary stents often have a higher risk of the artery thinning once again once they consume vitamin B12... a tiny risk, however one to keep in mind.

On a optimistic mention, currently pregnant and nursing a baby women can get vitamin B12 rather confidently if it is consumed orally in portions not exceeding beyond the advised everyday allowance (2.6 mcg/day if pregnant and 2.8 mcg/day if breastfeeding).
As it can be observed, vitamin B12 is really a fairly risk-free vitamin having not many negative side effects even if consumed in significant dosages. Much more issues occur from B12 insufficiency compared to the consumption of the vitamin alone.

Barley and Barley Allergies

Of the main cereal crops (wheat, barley, oats and rye), barley is probably the least commonly used in day-to-day food. It is often used to make beer and whiskey.

As a food, barley is most often used in soups and stews. In Asia, is boiled to make barley water, a popular drink which is ideal for hot weather.

Barley can grow in cold conditions, which is why it is a staple crop in Tibet (they also grow wheat there, so if you are allergic to wheat, Tibet is not actually a perfect destination for you).

Barley is a flavorful, tasty, chewy grain. It can be cooked like rice and served on the side with meat and vegetable dishes, much like rice.

Health Risks
Barley contains gluten and must be avoided if you are celiac or allergic to barley.

If you are allergic to wheat, you may still be able to eat barley (I do).

If you have just discovered that you are allergic to wheat, it is best to eliminate barley from your diet for several months, then re-introduce it to see if it causes you trouble or not.

Health Benefits
Barley is a good source of fiber, selenium, phosphorus, copper and manganese.

Barley Relatives
Barley is a grass. Besides being related to your lawn and bamboo, grass is also related to the following food crops because they too are grasses:

Maize (Corn)

Further Notes
Barley is really in a lot of places one might not suspect. While it is very commonly found in beer or whiskey, and that is kind of known, it is also very commonly found in everyday foods like bread, cereal, cookies, etc.

The main reason for this is that most flour that you buy in the grocery store, lists malted barley flour as one of the main ingredients. Because of FDA requirements on labeling, companies are not necessarily required to specifically list that the flour they used to make their bread contains malted barley flour. Nor do most labels tell you that malt is made from barley (always), and/or corn.

I find barley in almost as many things as I find wheat in. Although I can't seem to find anything on it right now, when I first started researching barley, I was finding that dextrose and maltodextrin are sometimes derived from barley (most often from corn, maize, rice, etc) as well. Those are two sweeteners that are in everything.

All About Dog Allergies Treatment

When your dog is ill and shows the symptoms of allergy, it is very important to get the right diagnosis. This is the first and most important step in this process of helping your dog. Don't forget that dog is your best friend, member of your family and someone who cannot help himself. He is helpless and depends on you so give your best try.

Like with everything else in life, only when you know what the problem is, you can fight it. Dog allergies treatment depends on what causes the allergies. As we know allergies can be seasonal-caused by pollen, inhalant-caused by dust mites and molds, food allergies caused by certain ingredients in food and allergy caused by fleabites. There are other allergies too but these are most common. Every of these allergies are treated differently.

When these problems with your dog appear, your first choice for getting information should be your dog's veterinarian but only if he is a good veterinarian that you trust and that you can rely on. This is important because you love your dog, you want him to be better and you don't need that feeling that your dogs vet just wants to take your money. You should base dog allergies treatment on facts and on vets experience, knowledge and caring.

Dog allergies treatment of symptoms should always start with most harmless treatments. There is no need to give your dog substances that can be harmful and with side effects. To provide relief to itchy dog's skin cool baths can be helpful with or without adding salts, or medicated shampoos. You should use medicated shampoos with caution because some of them contain potentially harmful substances. You should avoid them or use them for short period of time.

You should take allergy shots in consideration because they are very safe. The thing with them is that they take long time before starting to show any improvement.

Using steroids should be the last option to help the dog in extreme discomfort. The side effects are serious because they affect the whole body. Antihistamines are very safe for dog allergies treatment and vet should give them in right dosage to work properly. And like everything else this, too, have side effects which is sedation.

Natural anti-inflammatory agents Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids are good for dog allergies treatment. However, the best treatment possible is to avoid things and places that your dog is allergic to. In addition, clinical proof that dogs inherit the allergies tells us that, if we cannot prevent allergies in dogs maybe breeders should not breed dogs that are allergic. This is something that maybe we should think about.

When it comes to dog allergies treatment for food sensitivity it is different than with others allergies. In this case, there is a special diet, which is homemade food with ingredients that your dog has never eaten before, for example rabbit or venison. After some time you can add to his diet a chicken and see what happens. If it is ok, than you add some other type of food and if it is not OK and a reaction shows up than you know what he is allergic to. This is good and safe way to help your dog.

As we have agreed to at the beginning of this article, do whatever it takes to help your dog because you are the only one who can do it.

Stop Feline Allergies With the Best Discount Pet Medications

Cat allergies usually affect the skin and coat of the animal but can also be identified through other symptoms. Identifying the allergy is often a process of elimination just as it is with many allergies that people suffer.

Common Feline Allergic Reactions

The most common allergy affecting a cat's skin may be flea allergy dermatitis which is simply a reaction to flea bites. This can often display as thin patches of fur or small bumps that can be easily felt around the feline's neck and toward the base of the tail.

Atopic allergies are reactions to something in the cat's environment. This may be pollen from grasses or weeds or can be caused by dust mites in the home. Food allergies are not frequent but may require changing your cat's diet and adding new foods and ingredients slowly to identify the cause of the problem.

For cats, parasites can be a serious concern. Tapeworm in cats can make fur appear dull and lifeless and is easily diagnosed by the tiny white specks that are visible around the anus. Most kittens require worming when young and older cats may also require medication to kill parasitic worms in their system.

A secondary problem for cats with skin irritated by allergic reactions is the increased chance of a secondary infection. Skin that is raw from scratching provides a fertile ground for bacterial and fungal infections to gain hold. Treating the initial skin reaction with itch relief treatment and removing the source of the allergen causing the reaction will keep the skin healthy and able to resist bacteria and fungi in the cat's environment.

It can be difficult to distinguish between an allergic reaction in a cat and a skin problem caused by behavioral issues. For unknown reasons, some cats will groom themselves so thoroughly and frequently they develop bald spots and possibly irritated patches of skin as a result of incessant grooming.

Treatment of Cat Allergies

If the cause of the allergy is identified, it is possible for your vet to provide allergy shots to reduce the sensitivity of your cat to the allergen. This is not an exact science and may not provide relief for all felines.

If the problem is a food allergy, your veterinarian may recommend a specific cat food designed for feline allergies. If changing the diet of your cat you will need to allow two months at least before deciding whether the change in diet has been beneficial.

Antihistamines are often used to treat cat skin allergies and drugs such as Chlorpheniramine have been proven to be effective. In extreme cases, a course of corticosteroids such as prednisone may be prescribed. This treatment will quickly relieve the itching of allergies but can have side effects if used long term and must be withdrawn slowly when the treatment is complete.

Allergic Symptoms and Treatment

If fleas are the problem, itching skin is the most noticeable symptom in cats. When food allergies are the problem the primary symptoms are diarrhea and vomiting, followed by hair loss and itching. The itching tends to be concentrated on the face, neck and ears when a food allergy is the problem while flea bites or inhaled substances can cause skin irritation over the entire body of the animal.

Only one-third of cats with food allergies will display symptoms of the digestive tract. Food allergies in cats tend to appear more often in young cats and are found in all breeds and equally in male and female felines.

Atopica for cats utilizes cyclosporine which has been proven to work well in fighting skin problems caused by allergic reactions. Atopica acts by suppressing the body's immune response so should not be given to cats with infections or known immune disorders. Because Atopica can leave cats with a reduced defense against infections, it should not be used on cats with FeLV (feline leukemia) and FIV (feline AIDS). When being treated with Atopica, cats should be kept indoors to limit their exposure to infection and disease.

It may not be as important to find the source of your cat's allergy as it is to relieve the skin discomfort caused by the allergic reaction. For feline skin problems, addressing the symptoms is the first step to solving the problem.