When the cause of an allergy is unknown, a skin prick test (also called a puncture or scratch test) can be performed at the doctor's office to identify possible allergens.
Multiple substances are scratched into to the surface of the skin to detect common allergens,including: mold, pollen, pet dander, dust mites and different types of food.
Allergy testing takes less than an hour and can be performed on adults or children of any age. For children the test is usually performed on the upper back. Adults will usually have an allergy test performed on the forearm. First, the nurse will clean the skin with alcohol and mark the test area. The allergen is then applied next to each mark. The needles used to apply the substance only scratches the surface of the skin, so the test is not painful. A different needle is used for each substance.
To check if the skin is reacting normally, a histamine will also be applied to the skin. If you don't react to histamine, which is uncommon, the allergy test may not identify an allergy even if you have one. In addition, glycerin or saline is applied to test for a reaction. If there is a reaction, it is often an indiction of sensitive skin, which muct e factored into the allergy test results to avoid a false diagnosis.
The skin test may detect an allergic reaction immediately, or the reaction may not occur until several days after exposure. If an allergic reaction is present, there will be a raised, red bump on the skin resembling a mosquito bite. The nurse will measure the size of the bump. The marks will then be removed with alcohol. If an allergen is identified, your doctor will discuss the options for treatment.
Osteoporosis is a condition that causes bones to weaken and become brittle. It occurs when the natural regrowth of bone tissue slows and new bone does not replace the old bone. As the bones weaken and become brittle, the risk of fractures increases. Fractures are most likely to occur in the hip, wrist or spine. In severe cases, the stress of coughing or beding over can cause a fracture.
While osteoporosis can affect both men and women, older women who are past menopause are at the highest risk. Other risk factors include:
Certain medical conditions also increase the risk of osteoporosis:
The first sign of osteoporosis is often a bone fracture. However a diagnoses requires lab tests or imaging. Bone density screening is recommended for postmenopausal women at age 65 and men at age 70.
Other signs may include:
While there is no cure for osteoporosis, medications, eating a healthy diet and doing weight-bearing exercise can help prevent bone loss and strengthen weak bones. For some women, hormone therapy can also be beneficial.
One of the most common misconceptions about cold weather is that ii can make you sick. The reality is our bodies produce infection-fighting cells as a reaction to the cold puts on your body.
In addition, viruses that cause cold thrive at around 91 degrees; so if you're outside in the freezing cold, your nasal passages are chilled to a point below which viruses can easily survive.
This is a fact. According to research published in Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise, cold temperatures improve race times, and this quicker paces burns more calories in a shorter period of time.
For many people with allergies, spring and summer bring the start of itchy eyes and sneezing and runny noses. However, while pollen is of obviously lower during the winter months, our tightly sealed homes can lead to poor air quality, which can trigger allergies from dust and mold, especially if we share the home with our furry friends.
This is one of the most common myths. Your body will lose heat just as quickly if you're not wearing gloves versus a hat. Any exposed area of skin will lose heat at a similar rate.
Vitamin C does appear to be helpful in maintaining a healthy immune system. In addition, studies have shown that taking a large dose of vitamin C at the first sign of a cold may help lessen the severity and length of a cold.
This is a myth. Alcohol may provide the sensation of warmth because it causes your blood to rush to the surface of your skin, but it will actually cause your core temperature to drop. It can also inhibit your body's ability to shiver and create extra heat.
Shingles is a viral infection that can affect anyone who has had chickenpox. It isn't known what triggers the reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus that causes shingles.
The symptoms of shingles include sensitivity to touch, tingling, itching and a painful rash that often appears as a stripe of blisters along one or both sides of the torso. Pain may persist even after the rash subsides. Shingles is not a life-threatening condition but can cause complications, including:
Postherpetic Neuralgia - A condition where damaged nerve fibers cause exaggerated messages of pain from nerve endings in the skin to the brain.
Vision Loss - When shingles occurs near the eye it can cause painful infections that may result in vision loss.
Neurological Problems - Shingles can cause encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain, facial paralysis, or hearing or balance problems.
Skin Infections - When shingles blisters do not heal properly it can result in bacterial infections.
If you suspect you have shingles, see your doctor, especially if any of the following symptoms are present:
The primary defense against shingles is vaccination. Adults 60 years old and older should receive the shingles vaccine.
Children should receive the chickenpox vaccine to reduce their risk of developing shingles in adulthood.
Treatments include pain relief and antiviral medications such as acyclovir or valacyclovir. Over-the-counter pain medicines, including acetaminophen and ibuprofen, can also help reduce the pain caused by shingles.
Sleep apnea is a disorder where breathing is shallow or pauses during sleep. These pauses could last a few seconds or over a minute. Apnea episodes can occur 30 times or more an hour. When normal breathing resumes, it's sometimes accompanied with a loud snort or choking sound.
Common symptoms of obstructive and central sleep apneas include:
If you experience any of the following symptoms of sleep apnea, it's important to see your doctor.
Calcium plays an important role in building and maintaining strong bones. It is also important to the health of your heart, muscles and nerves. Children who do not get enough calcium may not reach their full potential height as adults. Adolescent girls in particular are at increased risk if their diet is too low in calcium. Adults over the age of 50 who do not consume sufficient calcium are at risk for low bone mass – a risk factor for osteoporosis.
Because our bodies do not produce calcium, it must be obtained through foods or suppilements, including:
A balanced diet is the best way to get calcium, however, calcium supplements are an option for individuals who are not able to consume enough calcium though diet alone.
To absorb calcium, your body also needs vitamin D. A few foods naturally contain small amounts of vitamin D, such as canned salmon with bones and egg yolks.
Various studies suggest that calcium, along with other nutrients such as vitamin D, could have additional health benefits such as protecting against certain types of cancer, preventing diabetes and lowering high blood pressure. These studies are ongoing and are not conclusive at this time.
Before deciding to take calcium or other dietary supplements, it's important to understand how much calcium you need. Calcium supplements come in different forms, each having advantages and disadvantages.
We recommend talking with your doctor before adding calcium supplements to your diet.
The Mayo Clinic offers these steps to head off migraine pain.
Migraines are often triggered by a poor night's sleep. Here are some tips to encourage sound sleep.
Your eating habits can influence your migraines. Consider the basics:
In Minnesota we sometimes joke that the mosquito is the state bird. While the number of mosquitoes actually capable of causing infection in humans is fairly small, it is important to take preventive steps to protect you and your family from potentially serious diseases. While the Zika virus is getting a lot of attention today, it is not a threat in the northern part of the U.S. The two most serious mosquito-born diseases found in Minnesota are West Nile virus and La Crosse Encephalitis
West Nile virus (WNV) is found in all lower 48 states and was first discovered in Minnesota in 2002. It remains a public health threat because the virus can cause encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) in some people. Thankfully, most bites by infected mosquitoes result in no symptoms or only mild illness.
The typical incubation period for West Nile is 2-6 days, although it can be as long as 15 days. West Nile fever symptoms include:
Like West Nile, La Crosse Encephalitis (LAC) is a virus. Most people infected with this virus will have either no symptoms or a mild flu-like illness. A small percentage of people (especially children) may develop encephalitis (inflammation of the brain).
Most of the severe cases start with headache, fever, nausea, and lethargy. The illness may rapidly progress into disorientation, seizures, and coma. There is no treatment for the illness other than supportive care until the illness is over.
For more information on mosquito-transmitted diseases, visit the Minnesota Department of Health website.
With the arrival of spring many households will be putting away winter clothes, cleaning out the clutter in closets, washing windows and getting ready for warm weather. Just like your refrigerator, your medicine cabinet should also be cleaned out regularly.
Old medications kept in home medicine cabinets can easily fall into the wrong hands. According to the Partnership at Drugfree.org, more than 4 in 10 teens who have misused or abused prescription drugs found them in a home medicine cabinet.
When opioid painkillers, such as Percocet, are prescribed about half of patients leave unused pills in their home. This creates easy access to opioids and contributes to the drug overdose crisis that is set to surpass motor vehicle crashes as the leading cause of injury and death.
First, check the label and follow any disposal instructions on the label or information pamphlet that came with the medicine. Never flush medicines down the drain unless the label instructs you to do so.
If there are no instructions for disposal, look for programs in your community that take unused drugs for proper disposal. Some local law enforcement and health agencies sponsor medicine take-back programs. Your city or county government are a good place to check for medication disposal options and guidelines in your area.
For more information on safely disposing of prescription drugs, visit the FDA's consumer information website.
Type 2 Diabetes, less commonly called adult-onset diabetes, makes up about 95 percent of all diabetes cases. While more common in middle age and older adults, it can also occur during childhood. Being overweight and inactive are the main risk factors for developing diabetes, but there are many other risk factors, including:
Type 2 diabetes occurs when your body does not make or use insulin efficiently. Insulin is a hormone that allows your cells to process glucose for energy. When there is too much glucose in your blood it can lead to serious health problems affecting your heart, eyes, kidneys, nerves, and gums and teeth. Because a person can have Type 2 Diabetes for years and not know it, it's important to recognize the often subtle onset of one or more of the following symptoms and see your doctor if you notice any of the following symptoms:
Have questions about diabetes? Talk with your doctor. They can help access your risk and perform blood tests to determine if you have diabetes or are at increased risk.
A vaccination contains killed or weakened disease germs that are delivered into the body, usually by injection. The immune system reacts to the disease, just as if it were exposed to a disease, providing effective immunity. Immunizations are given to prevent the following diseases:
There are many causes of lower back pain, they include:
Usually, lower back pain will subside with regular activity such as walking and treatment with over the counter pain medications.
Regular exercise, especially walking, can be effective at preventing back pain by strengthening muscles, maintaining healthy weight and improving blood circulation.
Exercises like core stabilization can strengthen the muscles in your trunk, improving your posture while keeping your body in better balance, lowering your chance of injury.
Each of the various treatments for back pain work for some people but not for others. You may need to try different things to see which work best for you. If your back pain is a result of trauma, is debilitating, or persists for more than a week, see your doctor. Your doctor can diagnose the specific cause and recommend exercises to help your back get stronger.
The committee’s report contained specific warnings to reduce red meat and processed meat consumption. Lower intakes of meats, including processed meats; processed poultry; sugar-sweetened foods, particularly beverages; and refined grains have often been identified as characteristics of healthy eating patterns.
For more information on the government's new 2015 dietary guidelines, visit http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/