What Are Probiotics?

We all know that probiotics are good for you…but why? This “good” bacteria” helps improve digestion, which in turn helps improve the absorption of nutrients such as vitamin B and C. These living microorganisms also help with the digestion of dairy, plus helps fight off infection. And if you’re on an antibiotic, PRObiotics will prevent diarrhea and stomach upset associated with the drugs.

So how does this super bacteria work? Probiotics are similar to the naturally occurring flora in your gut. And studies show that healthy gut flora is linked to a healthy immune system. In fact, 70% of our immune system is concentrated in our gut. You can hit your local drug store and pick these micro organisms up in pill form. The average healthy person should look out for the bottle that says 1 billion live active cultures.

Things You Should Know About Multivitamins

40% of all Americans take a multivitamin. People take multivitamins to increase their nutrient intakes to help improve and maintain health.

How do you pick a multivitamin that’s right for you?

In picking a multivitamin you need to consider age, gender and special needs such as pregnancy and quality of diet. Men have little to no iron in their supplements compared to women. As we get older our bodies ability to absorb nutrients is not as robust or efficient in absorbing nutrients. Seniors have more vitamin D, B-12 and calcium in their supplements compared to younger adults.

Multivitamins are a great way to fill in the gap where nutritional deficiencies are identified. Multivitamins that have recommended intake of vitamins and minerals are usually considered safe and do not interact with most medications with the exception of Coumadin (Warfarin). Patients on Coumadin or any blood thinners should consult with a Pharmacist or Doctor prior to taking a multivitamin. Vitamin K in multivitamins decreases the effectiveness or the therapeutic effect of Coumadin increasing the risk for blood clots. Look for a multivitamin without Vitamin K.

Smokers and former smokers should avoid multivitamins with large amounts of Vitamin A because studies have linked these nutrients to increased risk of lung cancer.

Remember that a multivitamin is not a replacement for a healthy meal.

As a last general tip, always look for a USP seal on the bottle to validate the purity, potency and quality of product.

Seasonal Allergy Treatment

It’s that time of the year where allergy symptoms affect your daily routine.

What causes Allergies?

Allergies are usually caused by allergens (dust, mold, grass, pollen and ragweed) that enter your bodies through your nose and lungs. Your immune system recognizes these allergens as harmful foreign bodies and overreacts producing antibodies that causes the release of histamine. Histamine causes inflammation that leads to your common symptoms such as runny nose and watery eyes.

What is the Allergy Forecast?

The time and severity of an allergy season varies throughout the country. Fall allergies are most commonly caused by a plant that grows everywhere, called the Ragweed. It’s activity from August to November blooming and releasing pollen. Your allergist can help you identify your allergen to help you treat and prevent the symptoms.

Over the Counter Allergy medications?

A lot of the allergy medications are available over the counter. There are 2 types of medications that help you treat different symptoms of allergies and both are available in various forms without a prescription.

1) Antihistamines
2) Decongestants

Antihistamines

Antihistamines help with sneezing, itching and runny nose.

Common antihistamines over the counter:

  • Zyrtec
  • Claritin
  • Allegra
  • Benadryl

Side effects:

The most common side effect of antihistamines is drowsiness, which can affect your mental alertness. Benadryl is a first generation antihistamine, and therefore causes the most drowsiness. While the newer generation antihistamine cause less side effects (Claritin, Allegra and Zyrtec). Taking them before going to bed can minimize the side effect. The combination of the antihistamine and decongestant can also offset some of the drowsiness. Always consult with a pharmacist or your doctor before using antihistamine.

Decongestants

Decongestants help with stuffy nose and drainage. These are your vasoconstrictors that help relieve nasal congestion.

Common decongestants 0ver the counter:

  • Sudafed (Pseudoephedrine)
  • Claritin D
  • Zyrtec D

Side effects:

The most common side effects are insomnia, palpitations, increased blood pressure, dizziness nausea and vomiting. Combination of decongestant and antihistamine can help set off some of the side effects. You should always consult with a pharmacist or your doctor before using it because of the severity of the side effects.

Nasal Steroids

Another way to treat your allergy symptoms are Nasal Steroids. These are glucocorticoids available without prescription, they help reduce inflammation, mucus and congestion in your nose. The second generation nasal steroids such as Flonase have less of a chance of systemic absorption and hence side effects. They are the first line treatment for seasonal allergies. The downside is that it takes a few hours for them to start working.

Antihistamines and Decongestants will help you with the symptoms of allergies but will not cure allergies. There is no reason to suffer from allergies, there are plenty of choices over the counter that can help you start feeling like yourself again.

Are You Suffering from Headaches or Migraines?

What are headaches?

Everyone at some point has experienced headaches. Headaches are pain in any region of the head caused by overactivity of structures in the head that are pain sensitive. There are many types of headaches with tension headache being the most common.

Treating headaches

Most tension headaches can be cured with OTC medications like Advil and Tylenol.

There are things you can do to manage headaches at home, especially migraines or tension headaches. Try to treat the symptoms right away.

When migraine symptoms begin:

  • Drink water to avoid getting dehydrated, especially if you have vomited.
  • Rest in a quiet, dark room.
  • Place a cool cloth on your head.
  • Use any relaxation techniques you have learned.

Filed Under: Health and WellnessTagged With: headaches