Study: Allergy symptoms while driving may be same as .03 BAC

AUSTIN, Texas -- Sneezing, itchy, watery eyes are among the negative symptoms associated with allergies. As if that's not bad enough, now a new study says pollen allergies can impair your driving to the point where you compare to drivers with a blood alcohol content of .03.

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Allergy Update: Preparing for your child for Back to School

UAS is in the news! UAS Chief Medical Officer Dr. Frederick Schaffer shares information on preparing children for back to school. The article is featured in the July/August 2014 issue of NSIDE magazine, a Texas-based business and healthcare magazine. See the PDF and online preview below.

NSIDE TXMD: July/August 2014

Kids From Dairy Farms Have Lower Allergy Risk, Study Finds

TUESDAY, July 15, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Children raised on dairy farms are much less likely to develop allergies than other youngsters, a new study finds.

Researchers tracked children who lived in rural areas of Sweden, half of them on dairy farms, from birth until 3 years of age. Children on dairy farms had one-tenth the risk of developing allergies as other rural youngsters.

"Our study also demonstrated for the first time that delayed maturation of the immune system, specifically B-cells, is a risk factor for development of allergies," researcher Anna-Carin Lundell, of the University of Gothenburg, said in a university news release.

She and her colleagues found that children who had allergies at ages 18 to 36 months had higher levels of immature B-cells in their blood at birth and during the first month of life.

Further research is needed to learn more about the association between delayed B-cell maturation early in life and increased risk of developing allergies, the researchers said. While a link was found between fewer allergies and growing up on dairy farms, it didn't prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

"We need to identify the specific factors on dairy farms that strengthen protection against allergies and appear to promote maturation of the immune system as early as the fetal stage," Lundell said.

The study was recently published in the Journal of Immunology.

Allergy rates in Western nations have risen dramatically in recent years. One widely held explanation for this trend is that children are less exposed to microorganisms and have fewer infections, resulting in delayed maturation of their immune system, according to background information in the news release.


By Robert Preidt
July 15, 2014


Is Your Air Conditioning Causing Your Allergies?

Summer is back, and so are many peoples’ allergies.

While people often suffer from spring allergies related to pollen, it’s not uncommon for people to suffer from allergies related to dust, dust mites, and animal dander. These allergens aren’t necessarily coming from the spring and summer conditions, rather they can be originating from inside your own house.

In 2013, American News Report reported a potential cause of allergies that can be easily addressed. With children being especially susceptible to allergies, we believe the message is worth repeating during this allergy season. At most, it may help prevent some allergies. At least, you’ll breath easier knowing there may be some relatively inexpensive ways of improving the air quality within your house.

Originally posted on American News Report, May 21, 2013 –

Children are most susceptible to allergies, and spring is one of the worst times for plant pollen allergies. Some doctors call Spring and Summer, “peak allergy season.”

“Food and skin allergies are on the rise and respiratory allergies are the most common type of allergy affecting children,” according to a report from the CDC published on May 2, 2013. There was a greater number of food and respiratory allergies with increased income, according to co-author LaJeana Howie, from the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the CDC.

Allergens can be in the carpet and also in the heating and air-conditioning vents in the family home. In some cases the quality of the air outside is not as bad as the air inside the home.

Children’s immune systems are still developing and so when a child sneezes or coughs and it’s not a cold or a virus that’s a sign that dust and other allergens may have reached a critical point in your home. It can take adults longer to show the symptoms of dust, dander and pollen allergies.

“Allergy Moms” say that taking care of a child with allergies is always a challenge because they never feel sure footed, the sand is always shifting. Even if a child has severe allergies such as a food allergy to peanuts or dairy it’s not unusual for the child to be allergic to many other different things to varying degrees. Even though and allergy mom may have “allergy proofed” their own home there’s always a good chance that air with allergens is going to come into the home and then be spread through the heating and air conditioning ducts.

Mark Masters, president of a professional carpet and duct cleaning company, says that the most common items they find in the home duct system are leftovers from the construction process. This can include dust from drywall, sawdust, concrete dust, as well as pollens and air particulates that were deposited during construction. Many of these particulates could be an allergen for a child, adult, or senior.

After you’ve taken your children or yourself to your family doctor there are other steps you can take that will mitigate the effects of these allergens. One important action you can take is to have your cooling and heating air ducts cleaned by a professional.

Another step you can take is an allergen filter system. Some of the better systems feature multistage allergen filtration. This type of system will remove allergens, particulates and contaminants by using a fan that runs continuously and circulates the air. Combined with an anti-allergen filter that effectively traps dust, allergens and other particulates such as dust mite droppings and dog dander indoor air quality can be improved.

If you’re like most people, changing a filter is a hassle that we’d rather avoid. Now there is technology that addresses that, it’s a ductless air conditioning system, which works only in the rooms where you are. This not only creates a healthier environment but a more economical one.

Doctors say that some allergy symptoms could be symptoms of something more serious. That includes a sinus infection or an upper respiratory infection. So seeing your family doctor first, and then taking steps to make the air better in your home, is the right order to get things done as we move into the spring and summer allergy season.

Doctors and other researchers are doing extensive studies to understand the risks and methods for preventing these allergies according to the CDC report.


July 14,

8 Summer Miseries Made Worse by Global Warming, From Poison Ivy to Allergies

With average global temperatures expected to rise more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) over the coming decades, a new report from a leading U.S. environmental group warns that future summers are likely to be filled with more misery, from more prolific poison ivy and biting insects to worsened air and water quality and impacts on tourism.

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Study finds link between stress and allergy flare-ups

(NaturalNews) Allergy sufferers may want to focus on positive thoughts and stress reduction to find relief for their runny noses and itchy, watery eyes.

According to researchers at Ohio State University, there's a link between people's stress levels and bad moods and the frequency of their allergy flare-ups, or flares. (1) In the study, 179 patients were analyzed for three months by experts at the university, 39 percent of whom had more than one allergy flare. This group experienced higher stress than the group without allergy symptoms, and, all told, 64 percent of them had more than four flares over the course of 28 days. (1) Typically, the flares came within just a few short days of exposure to stress.

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Medical Corner: 10 tips to help allergy sufferers

An estimated 36 million Americans are keeping their tissue boxes close at hand with the peak of the allergy season upon us. The budding trees, grass and weeds mark another battle against sneezing, itchy eyes, runny nose and congestion for allergy sufferers.

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Seasonal Allergy Symptoms Can Significantly Impair Driving Ability

Common seasonal allergy symptoms, such as watery eyes, sneezing and fatigue, can significantly impair driving ability, says a study in the July issue of Allergy. Allergy symptoms' effect on driving was comparable to having a blood-alcohol concentration nearing impaired levels, according to the researchers. Allergy medications weren't wholly effective at reducing the symptoms' effects.

Allergic rhinitis, or hay fever, has been linked to car accidents but the effects on a driver's performance weren't known, researchers said.

The study, in the Netherlands, involved 19 people in their early 30s with grass- and tree-pollen allergies. During the off-season, when they were free of symptoms, subjects were each treated in turn with an antihistamine, steroid nasal spray or a placebo pill or spray in four testing sessions on separate days. After each treatment, they were given grass and tree allergens or a placebo through a nasal spray to provoke allergy symptoms.

The subjects then did a 60-minute driving test in a vehicle with a camera that recorded how often they veered toward the center lane. The technique, called standard deviation of lateral position (SDLP), is commonly used to assess drunken driving. The higher the SDLP score, the greater the impairment. During the last 15 minutes of driving, subjects were given verbal memory tests where they were asked to recall as many words as possible from a list presented through the car audio system.

The greatest impairment occurred in participants with allergic symptoms who had received a placebo treatment. SDLP scores for this group were comparable to driving with a blood-alcohol level of 0.03%, just under the legal limit of 0.05% in most countries, researchers said. (The U.S. limit is 0.08%.) Both the antihistamine and nasal spray reduced SDLP scores to nonsignificant levels.

Driving scores of allergy sufferers deteriorated further during the memory tests. In this case, only treatment with nasal spray improved SDLP scores. The antihistamine's effects were comparable to placebo, possibly because of additional mild sedation due to the drug, the researchers said.

Caveat: Participants were tested in easy driving conditions, without distraction from cellphones, radios, or bad weather. The study was partially funded with a grant from GlaxoSmithKline.

Title: Allergic rhinitis is a risk factor for traffic safety

Signs of teen obesity: How teenagers decorate their bedrooms provides important information about their weight and possible future health risks, says a study in the July issue of the Journal of Adolescence.

The study found overweight adolescents tended to accumulate objects that weren't associated with physical activity compared with peers who had a body-mass index that was normal or below normal. Teen BMIs increased with each additional object.

The study, at Utah State University, involved 234 students in grades 8 and 9. About 30% of both sexes had above-average BMIs. Students were given a checklist of 66 electronic and decorative objects and asked if they had the item in their bedroom and were satisfied with it, or if they wanted to have the item.

Bedrooms of boys with above-average BMIs had significantly more TVs, electronic games and magazines. Bedrooms of boys with average or below-average BMIs had more souvenirs from other places, computers, religious items and artwork or pictures.

Girls with above-average BMIs had more board games, dolls, and stereos. Girls with lower BMIs were more likely to have objects associated with physical activity, such as calendars, schedules and spinning disco balls.

Caveat: The influence of parents and peers wasn't assessed.

Title: Early adolescent Body Mass Index and the constructed environment

Prenatal insomnia: Mothers' loss of sleep in late pregnancy may trigger abnormal cellular activity in the fetal brain that could be associated with memory and behavioral problems in childhood, says a report in the August issue of Neurobiology of Disease. Prenatal stress has been shown to have harmful effects on fetal development, but the impact of sleep disturbances hasn't been explored, researchers said.

Disturbed sleep in late pregnancy appeared to overactivate microglia, brain cells involved in nervous-system development, and inflammatory proteins called cytokines, the study found.

Experiments in China subjected three groups of pregnant rats to 72 hours of sleep disruption in the early, middle and late stages of gestation. Controls weren't sleep-deprived. Memory and spatial-recognition tests were administered to the rats' offspring on the first day after birth and every week for three weeks. Intake of plain water or water containing 1% sucrose was compared among offspring groups. Tissue samples from the hippocampus, the brain's memory center, were also analyzed.

Rat offspring from the late sleep-deprived group took significantly longer to find an underwater platform than controls. Offspring from the early and middle sleep-deprived groups also took longer than controls to find the platform but the difference wasn't statistically significant. When the platform was removed and later returned to its original location, the late-deprived offspring spent significantly longer finding it than other groups, suggesting memory and spatial learning were impaired researchers said.

The late sleep-deprived group had lower birth weights and were smaller as adults than other groups. These rats exhibited a markedly reduced preference for the sucrose solution, an indication of anhedonia, or the inability to experience pleasure.

Caveat: The experiments were conducted on rats and would be difficult or impossible to perform on humans, researchers said.

Title: Maternal sleep deprivation inhibits hippocampal neurogenesis associated with inflammatory response in young offspring rats

Boater behavior: Public-education programs that promote the use of life jackets do little to alter boaters' behavior—but changing the law might, a study suggests.

Wearing of life jackets increased 41% in canoes, kayaks, dinghies and small motorboats after a new law in the state of Victoria, Australia, mandated their use, according to a study published online in Injury Prevention.

In the U.S., where life-jacket use is voluntary, about 22% of all boaters wore the flotation vests in 2013, according to the nonprofit health consulting firm JSI Research & Training Institute, Inc. of Boston.

In the current study, researchers compared life-jacket use before and after the 2005 law came into effect, requiring life jackets be worn in boats up to 16 feet long. (Noncompliance resulted in $250 fines.) Trained observers stationed at boat ramps recorded life-jacket use.

Life-jacket usage by occupants of small boats increased to 63% from 22% after the law took effect. The largest increase of 56% was recorded in boaters age 60 and older; the smallest increase of 23% was in infants and children under age 9.

On larger boats, only children and teens increased their use of life jackets, by as much as 10%. Life-jacket use on yachts decreased by 17% after the law took effect.

A study published on Monday in Injury Prevention reported that boating-related drowning deaths in the six years after the 2005 legislation took effect fell to 16 from 59 recorded in the six years before it was introduced. Of the 16 boaters, 56% weren't wearing life jackets.

Caveat: Observers may have miscalculated boat lengths and children's ages. Observation rates varied slightly from region to region within the province.

Title: Did compulsory wear regulations increase personal flotation device (PFD) use by boaters in small power recreational vessels? A before-after observational study conducted in Victoria, Australia

Belted waists: Wearing belted clothing may cause physiological changes in the lower esophagus that increase the risk of inflammation and cancer, suggests a study in the July issue of Gut. Cancers of the lower esophagus are increasing, particularly among men. Acid reflux disease is a risk factor for esophageal cancers but many patients never experience reflux symptoms, such as heartburn, researchers said.

The study suggests pressure from waist belts, especially worn over a large waistline, can cause pockets of silent acid reflux to develop in the lower esophagus without noticeable symptoms.

Researchers at the University of Glasgow in Scotland recruited 24 volunteers, 12 men and 12 women, in their mid-30s. Half had a normal weight and half were obese. The subjects swallowed a probe that recorded changes in the squamocolumnar junction, the area where the cells of the lower esophagus start to resemble stomach cells, during two experiments. In one, subjects consumed fish and chips in an upright position until full. In the other, they consumed the same meal wearing a wrestler's belt.

After eating, wearing a belt and having a large waist were more likely to cause the squamo-columnar junction to move higher in the esophagus and closer to the sphincter muscle that stops the backward flow of stomach contents.

The displaced junction caused a partial hiatus hernia, in which part of the stomach protrudes into the diaphragm, the study found. The belt was also associated with a short section of acid reflux above the junction that was more pronounced in subjects with larger waists.

Caveat: The long-term effects of wearing a belt aren't known. Weightlifter belts aren't typical belts worn by most people.

Title: Waist belt and central obesity cause partial hiatus hernia and short-segment acid reflux in asymptomatic volunteers

Nordic Poles Boost Artery-Disease Patients' Walking

People with peripheral artery disease, or narrowed leg arteries, were able to walk significantly farther using Nordic walking poles than when they didn't use poles, according to a study in the June issue of the British Journal of Surgery. Poles work the body 23% harder than normal walking, but the participants didn't seem aware of the extra exertion, the researchers said.

Peripheral artery disease (PAD), a risk factor for heart attack and stroke, affects an estimated 8 million Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

U.K. researchers recruited 52 patients with PAD, 39 to 84 years old. The subjects were asked to walk at a normal pace three times a week for 30 minutes. About half used walking poles. Walking tests were administered at the start of the study and every four weeks for 12 weeks and consisted of walking a 55-yard circuit as fast and as long as possible. The pole group performed the test twice at each session, once with poles and once without poles.

Claudication distance, the distance covered before experiencing leg pain, increased immediately in the pole group to approximately 162 yards from 136 yards. After 12 weeks, maximum walking distance had more than doubled in the pole group and claudication distance had increased by 60%.

Without poles, the subjects' walking distances also increased significantly. Controls had longer walking and claudication distances, but the change wasn't statistically significant.

Caveat: The study involved a small number of subjects.


By Ann Lukits
June 23, 2014

U.S. Born Children Have More Allergies than Immigrants

Research published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics shows a startling disparity between children born in the U.S. and those who immigrate from other parts of the world: The foreign children have nearly half the risk of developing allergies and asthma as the U.S. born children.

According to Reuters Health, parents of 80,000 children were interviewed for the study between 2007 and 2008, accounting for demographics, income levels and geographic location as well as frequency of relocation. Between 34 and 35 percent of children born in the U.S. were diagnosed with allergies, including hay fever and food allergies, as well as asthma and eczema, compared with just over 20 percent of foreign-born children.

An expert not affiliated with the research told Reuters that food allergies have “increased tremendously” even affecting second-generation immigrants, “they’re identical (to U.S.-born people).” And the allergies became more severe the longer the foreign-born children were in the U.S. The research noted that 27 percent of immigrant children living in the U.S. for more than ten years had at least one type of allergy versus just 17 to 18 percent who had been in the U.S. two years or less.

Dr. Jonathan Silverberg from Beth Israel Medical Center and St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York and the study’s lead researcher says there may be several factors responsible for the rise in allergies, including obesity, changes in the climate and exposure to certain infections. With regards to environmental factors, Silverberg said Children born outside the U.S. are likely not exposed to these factors early in life and are therefore less likely to develop allergic diseases.”

The researchers hope the results will spark more investigation into what exactly is the cause of U.S. allergies and how they can be prevented.

This article was originally published on


By Jill EttingerJune 21, 2014

Polluting our health

Respiratory diseases lead list of concerns inflamed by 'bad air'

The first thing Julie Franks-Marchese does each morning is click an app on her phone that gives her an air-quality report for Valencia, Pa., where she lives with her husband, Michael Marchese, and their sons, Jesse, 11, and Tyler, 15. Then she plans her kids' days, prepares their medications and braces herself for disappointments caused by their asthma.

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