4 tips to tackle and alleviate symptoms for lasting relief
(Family Features) Warmer weather means flowers and trees are blooming, but for the millions of Americans who suffer from seasonal allergies, it also means coughing, sneezing, itchy eyes, congestion and other symptoms aren’t far behind.
Allergies, defined by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) as an immune reaction to a foreign substance, or allergen, can develop after an allergen is ingested, inhaled, injected or touched. About one-quarter (25.7%) of adults suffer from seasonal allergies, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which are commonly caused by grass, tree and weed pollens.
When allergies act up, many people reach for medications like antihistamines, decongestants and other over-the-counter (OTC) medicines for quick, yet temporary, symptom relief. While symptoms may subside, there are side effects to prolonged use of OTC medicines such as dry mouth, drowsiness and blurred vision, among others.
Innovative alternatives, such as allergy immunotherapy, are now available from the convenience of a patient’s home. This treatment offers more effective long-term relief compared to antihistamine pills, which only mask symptoms temporarily. Sublingual immunotherapy is an effective option for people who don’t want the inconvenience or safety risk associated with allergy shots.
“More than 120 million people in the U.S. suffer from allergies and their related diseases, making it the most prevalent chronic illness facing our nation,” said Dr. Ken Chahine, Ph.D., J.D., founding CEO of Nectar Life Sciences. “Nectar’s mission is to empower consumers with breakthrough solutions that can put an end to allergies and, in turn, build healthier, more productive communities.”
To help combat symptoms this allergy season, which will be longer and more intense due to climate change, according to the AAFA, consider these tips for long-lasting symptom relief.
Recognize Allergy Symptoms
Although seasonal allergies typically affect the nose, eyes, mouth and sinuses, the symptoms and triggers can vary among individuals. While itching in the roof of the mouth, hives and watery eyes are considered classic allergy symptoms, others may resemble signs of illness or infection, such as coughing, sneezing, congestion, body aches, pain or a stuffy or runny nose. If these symptoms persist for a week or two, it is possible you are reacting to seasonal allergens. Conversely, if you experience symptoms throughout the year, they might be caused by common allergens found in homes and workplaces, such as dust, mold or pet dander.
Reduce Exposure to Allergens Outdoors
Rainfall helps clear pollen from the air, making rainy or cloudy days ideal for outdoor activities. However, many outdoor activities rely on clear and sunny weather. In such situations, taking additional precautions becomes necessary. For instance, try wearing a face mask while performing outdoor chores like mowing, gardening or pulling weeds, which can stir up allergens. It’s also important to refrain from hanging laundry outside, as pollen tends to adhere to linens and clothing. People should promptly remove clothes after being outside and take a bath to rinse off any pollen from the skin and hair. Bringing allergens indoors, especially onto bedding, can worsen symptoms or prolong their duration. Additionally, closing doors and windows when pollen counts are high is advisable.
Look for Long-Term Symptom Relief
While allergen avoidance and OTC medications like antihistamines and decongestants can be effective, they may not work for everyone. For those seeking an alternative to antihistamines, allergy immunotherapy offers a viable option. With more than 100 years of clinical practice, allergy immunotherapy has shown it can improve long-term quality of life. The concept behind this therapy is to regularly expose the body to the allergen, gradually building immunity and reducing sensitivity, ultimately leading to fewer or even no allergy symptoms.
Sublingual immunotherapy is an innovative form of immunotherapy that is common in Europe and is now available in the U.S. It involves taking two drops per day of a personalized prescription under the tongue to achieve the same long-term relief that allergy shots can provide. Allergy care platform Nectar offers a comprehensive allergy treatment program that can be conducted from the comfort of a patient’s home. The program begins with an at-home allergy test, which is Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments-certified and covers a wide range of indoor and outdoor allergens. After carefully reviewing the test results and taking into account the patient’s clinical history and geographic location, a licensed provider determines the most suitable treatment option. The personalized prescription is then delivered to the patient every three months. Over time, as the body builds tolerance to the allergens, symptoms generally diminish and fade away.
“Sublingual immunotherapy allergy drops have been used and studied extensively in Europe for more than 30 years but have only recently started to gain popularity in the U.S.,” said Dr. Shyam Joshi, MD, board certified allergist and immunologist and chief medical officer at Nectar Life Sciences. “Our allergy drops are unique from most others in the U.S. market because the allergen concentrations we use are higher than other allergy drops, which, based on scores of clinical studies conducted both in Europe and the U.S., are necessary to achieve clinical benefits and long-term relief.”
Keep Indoor Air Clean
To maintain allergen-free indoor spaces, it is advisable to refrain from opening windows in the house or car when pollen counts are high. However, there are other measures you can take to minimize exposure indoors. Utilizing an air conditioner equipped with high-efficiency filters and adhering to regular maintenance schedules for heating and cooling systems are effective strategies. Additionally, frequent dusting of countertops, shelves and tables is recommended, along with cleaning carpets using a vacuum cleaner equipped with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. Using a dehumidifier can help maintain dry indoor air and reduce the risk of mold growth. Furthermore, consider installing portable air purifiers with built-in HEPA filters in bedrooms or frequently occupied rooms throughout the home.
To learn more or access online resources that can help you fight allergies, such as the Help Center and Learning Hub, visit MyNectar.com.
Photos courtesy of Getty Images
6 Tips to Improve Sleep Quality for Overall Well-Being
(Family Features) Despite a rising number of people searching for the term “sleep” in 2023, nearly 1 in 3 U.S. adults report not getting enough of it, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As a foundation for overall well-being, getting quality sleep is key to achieving goals and being present in daily life. Without it, you’re more likely to lack the stamina and energy to follow through on your ambitions.
To help people realize the foundational role sleep plays in everyday successes, Natrol – a leading sleep, mood and stress supplement brand based on Nielsen data – alongside Dr. Jess Andrade are working together to help people improve their sleep quality and habits so they can conquer their wellness goals this year and beyond.
“From consistent exercise to eating healthy and even daily journaling, it may seem like all your priorities are in order, but without sleep, you won’t be able to reap the full benefits of your hard work,” Andrade said. “Often overlooked, getting quality sleep is a fundamental piece to improving overall wellness and it doesn’t have to be complicated. Creating small, achievable changes in our daily sleep routines can lead to long-lasting lifestyle habits for the better.”
Consider these tips from Andrade to help improve your sleep quality so you can achieve your goals.
1. Prioritize Movement and Light Exposure in the Morning
Whether you’re a yogi or prefer a simple stretch when your feet hit the floor, movement and light during the day can help stimulate quality sleep later that night.
2. Understand Sleep Gains are Just as if Not More Important Than Gym Gains
If you’re focusing on fitness goals, you’ll need adequate sleep to see successful results. If you’re a morning workout warrior, schedule earlier bedtimes to ensure you get the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep. For evening workouts, aim to end your sweat session as early in the evening as possible; too much physical activity before bed can keep you up at night.
3. Make Your Bedroom a Sanctuary
Make your bedroom a sleep sanctuary. Keep the room dark, noise-free and comfortable with the thermostat set at 65-67 F for better sleep conditions.
4. Set Nightly Rituals to Unwind
Create nightly rituals that activate circadian rhythms and allow your body to unwind. Consider activities that relax you the most, like taking a bath, reading a book, journaling or sipping decaffeinated nighttime tea.
5. Try Incorporating a Drug-Free Sleep Aid
If you follow good bedtime habits but still occasionally struggle to fall or stay asleep, try a low-milligram melatonin supplement, like those from Natrol, that are designed to help you get a good night’s sleep so you wake up refreshed and ready to conquer your goals.†
6. Follow the 10-3-2-1-0 method
To help you fall asleep and wake up feeling revitalized, Andrade recommends the 10-3-2-1-0 method: Decrease caffeine intake at least 10 hours before bed. Avoid eating bothersome foods 3 hours prior to heading to off to sleep. Engage in relaxing activities like reading at the 2-hour mark and cut out screentime with 1 hour to spare. Ultimately, these habits can lead to zero times hitting snooze the next morning.
Find more ways to improve sleep habits by visiting Natrol.com.
† These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
6 Tips to Maintain Your Skin’s Health
(Family Features) Your skin is your first line of defense against the outer world. As the body’s largest organ, it protects you from bacteria, viruses and other environmental hazards, including pollution, ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun and more. It also helps regulate body temperature, recognizes pain sensations and alerts you to potential health problems, making it one of the body’s ultimate multitaskers.
While some factors that impact your skin – like genetics, aging, hormones and certain health conditions – are out of your control, there are steps you can take to support and maintain your skin’s health.
Protect Yourself from the Sun
No matter the season, exposure to UV rays from the sun can cause wrinkles, age spots and other types of damage, which could lead to skin cancer. To protect your skin from these harmful rays, use topical sunscreen daily with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 – even when it’s overcast – and reapply regularly.
Boost Your Diet with Antioxidants
A well-balanced diet consisting of plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains is an important part of maintaining healthy skin. However, diet alone isn’t always enough.
Many dermatologists recommend Heliocare Daily Use Antioxidant Formula as an oral dietary supplement. It contains Fernblock PLE technology, an exclusive plant extract rich in antioxidant properties that works to counteract the negative effects of free radicals, which are unstable atoms generated through everyday life that can damage skin cells. Free radical damage can cause wrinkles, discoloration and other signs of environmental aging. Taking a supplement daily, like Heliocare, can enhance antioxidant intake to help maintain skin health. Plus, it serves as a companion to topical SPF.
Keep Skin Moisturized
Daily use of a face and body moisturizer can help maintain a healthier skin barrier. This helps draw moisture to your skin from the air and lock it in. For best results and optimal hydration, moisturize within minutes of drying off after bathing to trap in moisture. Also remember to drink plenty of water, which can help keep skin hydrated, too.
Uncontrolled stress can trigger the release of hormones that dull skin and cause it to produce more oil, which can result in breakouts and other skin problems. To encourage clearer, healthier skin, take steps to reduce stress such as scaling back your to-do list, setting reasonable limits, making time for things you enjoy or trying a stress-reduction technique like yoga, meditation or tai chi.
Wear Protective Clothing
In addition to topical SPF, covering skin as opposed to leaving it exposed to the elements can protect from sun damage. When UV rays are at their peak, typically in the middle of the day, consider wearing long sleeves, pants and a large-brimmed hat.
Get a Good Night’s Rest
During sleep, your body repairs itself and regenerates skin cells. The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults get 7-9 hours of sleep each night, during which time the body produces higher levels of collagen, a protein that supports healthier looking (and functioning) skin. Lack of sleep and collagen loss go hand in hand.
Learn more about skin, antioxidants and free radical damage at heliocare.com.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock
Exploring the Healthiest Communities in the United States: California Counties Shine Bright
Discover how California’s Marin County leads the healthiest U.S. communities, boasting high life expectancy and low obesity rates in a recent study.
A recent study by MarketWatch has unveiled a list of the healthiest communities in the United States, with California counties claiming top spots. Marin County, nestled across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, emerged as the healthiest county, boasting a remarkable life expectancy of 85, a lower-than-average adult obesity rate, and a mere 5 percent of residents without health insurance.
The study evaluated 576 U.S. counties using 14 key metrics, including food insecurity, healthcare access, life expectancy, health insurance coverage, and environmental factors like water and air quality. Western states dominated the top 10 list, with Colorado, Hawaii, and Montana also showcasing exemplary county health profiles.
The findings emphasized a correlation between community health and wealth, with affluent areas exhibiting lower rates of food insecurity and higher levels of health insurance coverage. The presence of nature parks in many of the healthiest counties underscored the positive impact of green spaces on well-being, aligning with scientific research on the subject.
However, the study also shed light on disparities, highlighting that residents in the unhealthiest counties face challenges such as limited access to grocery stores, higher rates of food insecurity, and inadequate primary care services. Harris County, Texas, home to Houston, was identified as the least healthy county due to high uninsured rates and poor environmental quality.
In California, 37 out of 58 counties were ranked, with Marin, San Francisco, and San Mateo counties clinching top positions. The data revealed a stark contrast in median incomes between the healthiest and unhealthiest counties, with Marin County boasting a median income well above the national average.
This comprehensive analysis serves as a valuable resource for policymakers and healthcare professionals striving to address disparities and promote well-being across communities. It underscores the importance of factors such as access to healthcare, environmental quality, and socioeconomic status in shaping overall community health outcomes.
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