Preventing Seasonal Allergy Symptoms

Spring has sprung and so have your sneezes

Allergies can wreak havoc on your system, causing symptoms from watery or itchy eyes to coughing, congestion and possibly even a rash. While they’ve become synonymous with spring, allergies can actually be seasonal or year-round, depending on your trigger. The first step to controlling your bothersome symptoms is figuring out what you’re allergic to.

You can narrow it down by taking note of your symptoms and their patterns. Then you can work to avoid the allergen. Below are tips to reduce both seasonal and year-round environmental allergens, including dust mites, mold, animal dander and pollens.

In the bedroom

  • Remove heavy drapes, upholstered furniture and stuffed animals that are likely to collect dust.
  • Use a zippered, plastic air-tight cover on all pillows and mattresses.
  • At least every 14 days, wash all bedding and stuffed animals in hot water and dry on hot setting.

Throughout the rest of the house

  • Avoid damp basements or water-damaged areas of your home and fix water leaks to prevent mold exposure.
  • Clean moldy surfaces with a diluted solution of bleach. If a larger-scale mold exposure is suspected, you should seek professional assistance with mold removal.
  • If possible, remove all carpets. 
  • Vacuum as frequently as possible using a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter vacuum.
  • Avoid the use of ceiling fans Prior to use, make sure to clean any collected dust from the surface of the fan blades.
  • During the height of allergy season, keep windows closed, avoid exposure to pollens and limit outdoor activities when pollen counts are highest.
    • Early morning for spring time tree pollens.
    • Afternoon and early evening for summer grasses.
    • In the middle of the day for ragweed in the fall.
  • Consider using a HEPA filter to control airborne allergens (these only work if what you are allergic to is airborne, which doesn’t include dust mites and mold).   Change the filters frequently per the manufacturer’s guide. You can also purchase HEPA home-air filters for use in your air conditioner. 
  • Since dust mites and mold increase in high humidity, keep indoor humidity low.
  • Provide a smoke-free environment for yourself and any children.
  • Cockroaches and rodents are also causes of allergies; if you suspect an infestation, make sure to clean your home frequently and thoroughly, store away food in secure containers, keep garbage outside and repair holes in the walls, floors, doors, etc.  Also, seek the help of a professional exterminator.

For those who are allergic to animal dander

  • Keep indoor pets out of the affected person’s bedroom and wash your pet each week to remove surface allergens
  • Consider a HEPA filter for the room in which the pet is primarily kept. 

If you’re unable to keep your allergies at bay with these measures, I recommend you try an over-the-counter option, such as daily salt water irrigation (Neti-Pot) combined with a steroidal nose spray (Flonase), or allergy medications, such as second generation antihistamines (Claritin and Zyrtec).

First generation antihistamines (Benadryl)  should be reserved for severe cases and should not be used as a long-term solution. If you’ve exhausted these measures and allergies are still impacting your daily life, or if you’re experiencing severe coughing, wheezing or shortness of breath, seek the help your physician. Specialized medication and testing may be for you.

Four Surprising Facts About Home Health Care

Most people end up only learning the details about home health during a critical time. It’s a service you may never need, but it may be beneficial in more ways than you expect.

Here a few surprising facts about home health care:

1. Home health is different than in-home care.

Home health is a service provided by licensed medical professionals for patients who are recovering from an injury, illness or surgery. It’s meant to help patients recuperating from an inpatient hospital stay to receive appropriate therapy in the comfort of their own home and is equivalent to the quality of care you would find in the hospital. In-home care usually refers to hourly, personal care that offers companionship to seniors and others who may be unable to be left alone long-term, and it may or may not be medical nature.

2. It isn’t just for seniors.

We offer care and rehabilitation to any adult recuperating from their hospital stay. No matter your age, injury or surgical treatment, if your physician releases you from inpatient care, we can help to continue your personalized recovery plan at home.

3. If it can be done by a nurse, it can be done at home.

Home health allows for skilled nurses, occupational and physical therapists, dietitians, home health aides, mental health and social workers to come to your home to provide the custom-made, follow-up care you need to get back to your life.

4. It is comfortable and cost-effective.

Home health care is considered to be less expensive, more convenient than and just as effective as care given in a hospital or skilled nursing facility. Recovering in your own home can be a more relaxing experience. In addition, most insurance plans cover home health care. 

Home is where the heart is. Shouldn’t it be where you go to get well?

3 Reasons You May Need Professional Wound Care

When to seek professional wound care

The skin and tissues typically work together behind-the-scenes to mend cuts and scrapes without your knowledge. But for some people with complex wounds or additional medical complications, the process may need some assistance.

There are an estimated six million Americans who suffer from chronic wounds that won’t heal. If you have a difficult-to-heal wound, you should consider consulting a certified wound care clinic if you experience any of the following. 

1. You have an old wound

If a wound has not started to heal within two weeks, or has not totally healed in six weeks, medical attention may be necessary to reduce the risk of complications.

We often see patients with the following conditions:
  • Diabetic wounds
  • Pressure ulcers
  • Venous stasis ulcers
  • Arterial ulcers
  • Vasculitic ulcers
  • Non-healing surgical wounds
  • Complex soft tissue wounds
  • Traumatic wounds
  • Infected wounds

2. You have underlying factors

It seems effortless, but natural wound healing actually involves three phases. These stages can be impaired in patients with other factors, such as diabetes, arthritis, vascular disease, trauma or infection. If you are suffering from a slow-healing wound and have other risk factors, it may be time to seek treatment from a wound care specialist.

3. The same old isn’t working

You’ve seen your primary care physician, you’ve taken your medications and you have followed all your home care recommendations, but your wound still isn’t healing. The clinicians at a certified wound care center can offer advanced care options. For example, our center offers hyperbaric oxygen chambers for applicable wounds.. These pressurized tubes offer hyperbaric oxygen therapy to expose wounds to 100 percent oxygen, which has been proven to promote wound healing.

What to expect at your first wound care appointment

At your first appointment you will undergo an evaluation and exam. The evaluation may include diagnostic testing, which can identify the origin of the wound and better pinpoint treatment options. An individualized wound-healing plan is then developed, with the goal of healing your wound within 14 weeks. A wound care technician with the assistance of trained nursing staff then cleans, treats and dresses your wound. They will also provide you with instructions about caring for your wound at home until your next appointment.  

Professional wound care is more than a Band-Aid

Wound care isn’t just about wound dressing. We offer our patients solutions for their discomfort and state-of-the-art treatment options. We also work with our patients to prevent future wounds.

There is no reason to continue with the frustration and uncertainty of a non-healing wound. Ask your primary care physician about your advanced wound care options today.

Are You Getting Enough Vitamin D?

Almost Half of the U.S. Population is Vitamin D Deficient

According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, almost half of the U.S. Population (41.6%) is vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D is found in a few foods, but people get most of their vitamin D from the sun, which can be difficult in the winter months when most are huddled up indoors. Even if you do spend time outdoors, it is very unlikely that your skin will convert the sun’s rays to vitamin D from December through February.

So what does vitamin D do?

Vitamin D’s main job is to help your body absorb calcium to keep your bones and teeth healthy. It also helps keep your immune system strong and your muscles and nerves working well. 

Who is most at risk for deficiency?

Certain conditions put some people at a higher risk for vitamin D deficiency including:

  • Having darker skin (up to 82% of black people and 69% of Hispanic people are deficient)
  • Being elderly
  • Having kidney disease
  • Being vegetarian or vegan
  • Being obese (having a BMI >30), especially if you have had a gastric bypass
  • Having a GI disorder such as Crohn’s disease, Celiac disease or Ulcerative Colitis

What can I do if I am at risk?

If you’re at risk, eat foods with vitamin D such as

  • Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, trout, sardines and flounder
  • Beef liver
  • Egg yolks
  • Sun dried mushrooms
  • Fortified orange juice, soy milk, yogurt and milk

You can also ask your health care provider or registered dietitian nutritionist about taking a vitamin D supplement.

Get some sunshine (between Spring and Fall)

A map of vitamin D synthesis in January

Getting five to 30 minutes of sunshine on unprotected skin each day between March and November usually provides enough vitamin D to prevent deficiency. Wearing sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher) is very important for preventing skin cancer, but it also limits your skin’s ability to make vitamin D.  It takes sunscreen about 15 to 30 minutes to fully work, so if you apply it shortly before going outside, your skin will have a few minutes where it can make vitamin D, and afterwards it will be protected from the sun for the next few hours. For some people, no level of unprotected sun exposure is safe so talk to your health care provider about what the best plan is for you.