Sunday December 8, 2013
Coughing is an extremely common reason why people go see their doctor. Some people seek help when they've been coughing for days, while other may wait years before going to the doctor. While the reason for a cough can usually be identified, and the cause treated, people with a chronic cough can be some of the most difficult cases to treat.
The most common reason for a chronic cough is due to post nasal drip (frequent throat clearing). This may be caused by allergic rhinitis, non-allergic rhinitis, or even a sinus infection. The next most common cause is asthma, even if other symptoms such as wheezing are absent. Lastly, gastroesophageal reflux disease, even if classic heartburn symptoms are absent, is the third most common cause of a chronic cough.
If you, or someone you know, has a cough that won't quit, the following articles are a must-read:
Tuesday December 3, 2013
In July 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Committee on Non-Prescription Drugs voted to allow Nasacort AQ (triamcinolone) nasal spray to be sold over-the-counter (OTC) without a prescription. Nasacort AQ would be the first intranasal corticosteroid nasal spray to be sold OTC without being prescribed by a healthcare professional. While most low sedating antihistamines have been available OTC for many years, including Zyrtec (cetirizine), Allegra (fexofenadine) and Claritin (loratadine), the only other medicated nasal sprays available OTC include topical nasal decongestants (such as Afrin) and NasalCrom (cromolyn). Intranasal corticosteroids may not be as safe as antihistamines, however, and therefore the risks and benefits should be considered to determine if having these medications being available OTC is a good idea.
Thursday November 28, 2013
The holidays are an excuse for many people to have a few alcoholic drinks -- and more often than not, a few too many. A little too much alcohol can result in a wide variety of symptoms, aside from the typical hangover that most of us are familiar with. These various reactions, such as flushing, hives or itching, could make you wonder if you could be allergic to alcohol. Allergic reactions to alcohol are possible, but are typically caused by ingredients other than the alcohol itself -- such as yeast or barley in beer, grapes in wine, or sulfites added as preservatives.
Monday November 25, 2013
Now that Thanksgiving is nearly upon us, many of us are thinking of getting our annual indoor Christmas tree. Some people seem to have the tradition of trimming their tree immediately after Thanksgiving, while other people wait until just before Christmas. For people with allergies and asthma, however, the question seems to not be "when" they should get a Christmas tree, but "if" they should get a Christmas tree.
For many years, people with allergies and asthma have shunned the idea of having a live Christmas tree in their homes. Surely the presence of a live, fragrant pine tree would wreak havoc on their allergies and asthma, left to suffer for weeks while the non-allergic members of the family enjoy the tree. But, do allergic people really have to settle for an artificial tree in order to prevent allergic misery?
Maybe not. Following a few simple steps can minimize even the most allergic person's symptoms that may occur as a result of an indoor Christmas tree. These steps include throughly washing off the Christmas tree (and allowing it to dry) before bringing it indoors, and minimizing the amount of time it's kept indoors to prevent the growth of mold spores. Medications may be required for the most sensitive of people, especially when the fragrance of the tree is the problem, but this might be a worthwhile short-term tradeoff if it means having a beautiful, live Christmas tree indoors for the Holidays.