Posts made in June, 2015

When food bites back

Posted by on Jun 28, 2015 in Health Topics | 0 comments

When food bites back

The majority of food allergies in children are not severe, and will be outgrown with time, but they can get in the way of your child’s ability to sleep well, play normally, and function at school. The eight foods that account for most of these allergies are cow’s milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, soy and wheat. The signs Most serious food allergies start in infancy and early childhood, and many parents don’t even know their child has a food allergy until they end up in the emergency room. In a broader sense, parents should be aware that food allergies are more common among children who come from families where other members suffer from allergies, and also that babies who suffer from eczema are more prone to develop food allergies. In most cases the allergy affects the skin, gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts, but in serious cases also the cardiovascular system. Dr Sarah Karabus, a Cape Town paediatrician and allergologist, points out the immediate signs, which are reactions that usually occur within minutes of eating the particular food, but can sometimes take up to two hours before becoming visible. “The most common symptoms would be hives or wheals (an extremely itchy red rash),” says Karabus. “With more severe reactions, there may be diarrhoea and vomiting.” In extreme cases there may be breathing problems, such as coughing, wheezing, voice changes or anaphylaxis. Karabus also warns against confusing food allergies with food intolerance. “Food intolerance doesn’t involve the immune system,” she says, “which means no antibodies develop against the food as they would with an allergy.” Food intolerance is rarely life-threatening. Be alert “The first step would be to give the child an antihistamine,” says Karabus, “but if the child is known to have a severe allergy, the parent might also give an adrenaline injection into the thigh.” Thereafter, you should go to the closest emergency room, she adds. The best measure of precaution, though, is education – for the parents, the child if they are old enough, the family, and all the caregivers, including school staff. “Everyone must be taught to read food labels, to determine which foods are likely to contain a particular ingredient,” says Karabus. She adds that emergency medications must always be available, even at school. The law has changed and teachers are now allowed to administer medication. Parents can get a form from their healthcare practitioner that gives written permission for teachers to act. Back-up Karabus also gives the following advice: If your child is allergic to a food from a major group, such as milk, supplements must be given so that the child does not develop any nutritional deficiencies. It is useful to consult a dietician trained in the management of childhood food allergies. Children often outgrow certain food allergies, so it’s important to let your paediatrician or allergologist retest your child every few months in order to determine if that food can be reintroduced into the diet. Children rarely outgrow a fish allergy and only 20% of children will outgrow a peanut allergy. If tests show that the allergy levels are decreasing, a “food challenge” should be performed whereby the food is given in incremental amounts according to specific guidelines, in a controlled hospital setting. Source:...

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10 ways to have a healthier work day

Posted by on Jun 15, 2015 in Health Topics | 0 comments

10 ways to have a healthier work day

Feeling tired, disorganised, anxious or tense in the workplace? Then try these 10 ways to make your work day healthier. Have a healthier work day, tip 1: Declutter your desk A clean, uncluttered working space is far more conducive to a productive day than a desk piled high with files, dirty mugs and scraps of paper. Depending on how bad the situation is, put aside five minutes to an hour (or even a whole day, if possible!) to clear up your desk, wipe your keyboard clean and organise your files and papers. You’ll feel a lot more clearheaded when you do so, and you won’t constantly be igniting stress levels by having to look for important things that have disappeared under the rubble. Have a healthier work day, tip 2: Go green Certain plants can help absorb the pollutants emitted by office carpets, MDF, paint and anti-stain treated fabrics — such as formaldehyde, benzene and trichorethylene. Spider plants, peace lilies, golden pothos and goosefoot plants are all effective varieties. Also, fresh-cut flowers brighten the office — and therefore brighten your mood! — and can help to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the air. Have a healthier work day, tip 3: Take a break Chiropractors recommend getting up to stretch and walk around at least every 40 minutes to prevent joint pain, muscular tension and eye strain. It’s also good for your productivity: breaking a long spell of concentration by changing position, taking a few deep breaths and focusing on something else for a moment can help to recharge you for the next bout of work. Have a healthier work day, tip 4: Get ventilation Many of us don’t have the luxury of working next to an open window — especially as some companies prefer to keep the windows firmly sealed and pump the place with air conditioning! But if you do have the choice, work in a well-ventilated area with as much natural light as possible. If your options are limited, though, instal a plug-in ioniser to help improve the air quality. Ionisers are available from department stores and larger chemists. Also, ensure you get out of the office for at least 20 minutes every day, regardless of your office set-up. Have a healthier work day, tip 5: Pack your lunch It’s not impossible to get healthy snacks and lunches in the deli or cafe, but the temptation to go for a mayonnaise-laden sandwich can be quite strong after a stressful morning! The cost of regular trips to the nearest coffee house or pastry shop can add up, too. So, try to take a packed lunch instead of buying your lunch. However, if a packed lunch doesn’t appeal (perhaps you like to eat out with colleagues or friends), you could still stock your desk drawer with healthy snacks such as dried fruit, nuts, apples and pears, rice cakes and crackers. You could also take your own non-caffeinated tea, coffee or herbal tea supply. Have a healthier work day, tip 6: Switch off Don’t leave computers, faxes, phone chargers and photocopiers switched on all the time — all electrical equipment emits electro-magnetic fields, and there is some evidence that these are linked with sub-optimal health and conditions such as insomnia, headaches and anxiety. Also, you should make sure you switch things off anyway if you don’t need them for long periods, as it can save on the company’s electricity bill (or yours, if you work at home!).  Have a healthier work day, tip 7: Get personal According to the Chinese art of Feng Shui, it’s good to place something...

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