Weekly health rail, with tips for controlling your asthma, new guidelines for caffeine consumption during pregnancy, how to safely use insect repellent, and more.
Summer often poses extra challenges for more than 23 million Americans -- including more than 7 million children -- who live with asthma.
"Having asthma doesn't mean you have to spend the entire summer indoors," says Dr. Joseph Addiego, chief medical officer of Prescription Solutions, a pharmacy benefits management company. "If you understand what triggers your asthma and what controls it, you'll be able to enjoy a healthy and active life outdoors."
Addiego offers these tips for controlling your asthma this summer:
1. Understand your asthma. Asthma is as unique as the person who has it. While indoor factors, such as pet hair or dust, may trigger an attack for some, outdoor factors such as pollen may trigger an asthma attack for others.
Keep a journal to track your personal triggers, which may change from season to season. Note the details of your actual asthma attacks, including frequency and duration, use of maintenance medications and rescue inhalers and other breathing-related data to share with your physician.
2. Take your medications. Skipping needed medications, or not taking them on time, puts individuals at risk for more frequent and possibly more severe attacks. This situation represents wasted benefit dollars in terms of actual costs and increases the potential for negative health outcomes.
3. Plan ahead. If pollen is a trigger, check the daily pollen count that is often provided by your local newspaper, radio weather service or television news channels. Then, plan your activities accordingly.
If you are traveling, look up the weather forecast in advance and research environmental factors that might affect your asthma.
Also, be sure you identify a local health care provider or hospital in the event of an emergency. Whether home or away, make sure you have enough of your asthma medications on hand.
New research: Moderate caffeine OK during pregnancy
Pregnant women can ease their minds about drinking a cup of coffee or having a soft drink — moderate caffeine consumption doesn't appear to cause miscarriage or preterm birth, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Moderate caffeine consumption is considered less than 200 milligrams of caffeine per day. In practical terms, this equates to about 12 ounces of coffee. Caffeinated tea and most soft drinks have much less caffeine (less than 50 milligrams), as do the average chocolate candy bars (less than 35 milligrams).
Researchers say it remains unclear whether high levels of caffeine consumption have any link to miscarriage.
-- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Did You Know?
The best way to check the water quality at a beach this summer is by contacting the state department of public health.
Over 29,000 people in the U.S. have been reported with West Nile virus disease since 1999. Insect repellent is the best way to prevent mosquito bites.
- Apply repellents only to exposed skin and/or clothing as directed on the product label.
- Do not apply to eyes or mouth, and apply sparingly around ears. When using sprays, do not spray directly on face — spray on hands first and then apply to face.
- Do not allow children to handle the product. When using on children, apply to your own hands first and then put it on the child. You may not want to apply to children’s hands.
- If you or your child get a rash or other bad reaction from an insect repellent, stop using the repellent, wash the repellent off with mild soap and water, and call a local poison control center for further guidance.
-- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Number to Know: 20
A Swedish study found that men who are obese at 20 years old face a life-long doubling of the risk of dying prematurely. Researchers also found that the chance of dying early increased by 10 percent for each BMI point above the threshold for a healthy weight.
-- International Association for the Study of Obesity
Children’s Health: Limiting eczema in babies
Mothers who drank milk with a probiotic supplement during and after pregnancy were able to cut the incidence of eczema in their children by almost half, according to a new study in the British Journal of Dermatology.
The randomized, double-blind study compared mothers who drank one glass of probiotic milk a day to women who were given a placebo. Use of the probiotic milk – which the mothers drank beginning at week 36 in their pregnancy up through to three months after birth -- reduced the incidence of eczema by 40 percent in children up to age 2, the researchers found.
Probiotics are live lactic acid bacteria that can be added to food and drink.
-- Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Senior Health: Vitamin E may lower dementia risk
Consuming more vitamin E through the diet appears to be associated with a lower risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease, according to new report.
Oxidative stress — damage to the cells from oxygen exposure — is thought to play a role in the development of Alzheimer's. Experimental data suggest that antioxidants, nutrients that help repair this damage, may protect against the degeneration of nervous system cells.
Sources of vitamin E include margarine, sunflower oil, butter, cooking fat, soybean oil and mayonnaise.
GateHouse News Service