Sneezing into Spring

Many experts say that 2015’s allergy season is the worst one in recent history. The long winter with bitter cold temperatures delayed some trees from pollinating. When trees pollinate, they release tiny grains in the air called pollen. Since not all trees pollinate at the same time, the delays are resulting in a large amount of trees releasing pollen at once. It’s being called the “pollen tsunami.” Pollen is the biggest cause of spring allergies.

“You may even see clouds of pollen being released over the next several weeks, where there will be almost a green mist,” Dr. Leonard Bielory, an allergy specialist at the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, N.J., told CBS New York.

Oak and birch trees — the “big bad” pollen makers — are coming out at the same time as the seasonal ones like poplar, alder and ash. And soon the grass pollens arrive.

About one in five Americans suffer from some kind of allergy, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Seasonal allergies are the most common. While not as severe as food and insect allergies, they

Health Threats Spur Vaccine Hunt

Ebola, Zika virus and other infectious diseases have catapulted the threat of infectious-disease epidemics to a top spot at the World Economic Forum as world leaders meet in Davos this week.

The WEF said last week that it had added the “future of health” to its list of 10 global challenges, issues on which it urges public and private entities to collaborate on solutions. The forum also listed infectious-disease outbreaks among the top threats in its Global Risks report released last week.

Government, international and pharmaceutical industry officials will gather in a high-level meeting Thursday to debate how to finance the development of vaccines for infectious diseases that spark epidemics, according to people familiar with the plans.

There are no vaccines for many of the infectious diseases threatening the world today, such as Middle East respiratory syndrome and Zika virus, because they cost far more to develop than their manufacturers can reap in revenue.

The annual gathering in Davos is taking place as health officials, researchers and pharmaceutical companies are working on ways to overhaul global health governance in the wake of the Ebola crisis, the

How do you tell the difference between good stress and bad?


Feeling stressed can feel perfectly normal, especially during exam time. You might notice that sometimes being stressed-out motivates you to focus on your work, yet at other times, you feel incredibly overwhelmed and can’t concentrate on anything. While stress affects everyone in different ways, there are two major types of stress: stress that’s beneficial and motivating — good stress — and stress that causes anxiety and even health problems — bad stress. Here’s more on the benefits and side effects of stress and how to tell if you’re experiencing too much stress.

Benefit of Stress

According to experts, stress is a burst of energy that basically advises you on what to do. In small doses, stress has many advantages. For instance, stress can help you meet daily challenges and motivates you to reach your goals. In fact, stress can help you accomplish tasks more efficiently. It can even boost memory.

Stress is also a vital warning system, producing the fight-or-flight response. When the brain perceives some kind of stress, it starts flooding the body with chemicals like epinephrine, norepinephrine and cortisol. This creates a variety of reactions such as an increase in blood pressure and heart rate.

3 Steps To Heal Adrenal Fatigue Naturally

Adrenal fatigue is a term used in wellness centers to describe many disorders that have no specific causes. The theory is that the adrenal glands do not function as well as they should. This can cause a host of symptoms including aches and pains, fatigue, low blood pressure. Weight loss without increasing activity levels or modifying the diet can be another symptom.

The adrenal glands are located in the body just above the kidneys. Their function is to produce more than 50 of the hormones needed to regulate many bodily functions. The adrenal glands produce adrenaline, also known as the fight-or-flight hormone. When we feel threatened, our bodies produce extra adrenaline. This raises our alertness and causes our hearts to beat faster. When we are in this aroused state, production of other hormones is diminished. If this happens frequently, we will begin to experience symptoms that are thought to be caused by adrenal fatigue.

It is believed that stress plays a big part in causing adrenal fatigue, especially if the stress is prolonged, such as after the death of a close relative. We may also suffer stress as a result of environmental factors. Pollutants and

Everything You Wanted to Know About Viagra and Its Effects

If you’re struggling with sexual dysfunction, Viagra would probably be among the first things you would think about. After all, Pfizer’ Viagra has been perhaps the most successful drug ever in history. Last year alone, there were 8 million prescriptions for Viagra. The “Blue Pill” as it is known, is everybody’s favourite medical prescription for erectile dysfunction.

So what’s Viagra and how does it work? We discuss everything you need to know about the Blue Pill.

What’s Viagra?

Viagra is a popular prescription medication that is used to treat erectile dysfunction and impotence in men. It increases the blood flow to the penis, which would help you get an erection when you need it most and to sustain it during the sexual intercourse. Viagra uses a powerful ingredient called sildenafil. Pfizer is the company behind Viagra, but the patent held by Pfizer, has since expired, so there are many generic versions of Viagra available in the market today.

How long does it take for Viagra to work?

The effects of Viagra vary from one person to another. Generally, it should take 30 minutes for the drug to start working once you take it. But here’s what you should understand –

Not So Harmless Pot Linked to Heart Problems

Pot may not have a chilling-out, calming effect on everyone — evidence is emerging that for some people, smoking marijuana could increase the risk of heart problems, doctors say.

In a new study, researchers used data from a database called the French Addictovigilance Network, gathered from 2006 to 2010. Of the nearly 2,000 reported complications related to marijuana, the researchers found that 2 percent, or 35 cases, involved heart problems. These cases included 20 people who suffered a heart attack, and nine who died.

Researchers found most patients were men, with an average age of about 34. Regular marijuana users with a family history of heart disease had an increased risk of heart disease, according to the study, published today (April 23) in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Many of the patients also had other risk factors for heart disease, such as smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol, the researchers noted. Nevertheless, nearly half of the patients were regular users of only marijuana.

Researchers also found a small increase in heart problems over time. In 2006, only 1.1 percent of the reported complications were heart related, but that rate increased to 3.6

Once-Banned Bird Flu Study Yields Sobering Findings

As few as five mutations are enough to make the H5N1 avian influenza virus transmissible via airborne droplets between ferrets, according to a new, highly anticipated report.

Because the flu virus affects ferrets and humans in a similar way, the new findings, appearing in the June 22 issue of the journal Science, may shed light on how likely it is that an avian or “bird flu” virus will become pandemic and spread rapidly between humans.

If a new virus emerged, humans could essentially be defenseless against it.

The paper is the second of two whose publication was banned by the U.S. government, which feared that publishing specifics on a sequence of the H5N1 bird flu might prompt bioterrorists to develop and unleash a pandemic.

In April, however, the controversial ban was lifted and the first paper was published in the journal Nature.

Bruce Alberts, the editor-in-chief of Science, speaking at a press conference Wednesday, said he hoped publication of this and a companion paper “will help to make the world safer by stimulating more scientists and policy makers to focus on preparing defenses [against a pandemic].”

Asked whether the report might

Do I need to change what I eat

If you answer yes to any of the following questions, you may need to talk about improving your nutrition with your doctor:

  • Has your doctor talked with you about a medical problem or a risk factor, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol?
  • Did your doctor tell you that this condition could be improved by better nutrition?
  • Do diabetes, cancer, heart disease or osteoporosis run in your family?
  • Are you overweight?
  • Do you have questions about what kinds of foods you should eat or whether you should take vitamins?
  • Do you think that you would benefit from seeing a registered dietitian, a member of the health care team who specializes in nutrition counseling?

Won’t it be hard to change my eating habits?

Probably, but even very small changes can improve your health considerably. The key is to keep choosing healthy foods and stay in touch with your doctor and dietitian, so they know how you are doing. Here are a few suggestions that can improve your eating habits:

  • Find the strong points and weak points in your current diet. Do you eat 4-5 cups of fruits and vegetables every day? Do you get enough calcium? Do you eat

FDA Moves to Keep Teens Out of Tanning Beds

Citing a rise in skin cancer among young people, the FDA proposed rules Friday that would keep anyone under the age of 18 from using high-powered UV sunlamps, such as those in tanning beds.

Under the new rules, anyone 18 and over will also be required to sign a waiver every 6 months that says they understand that using these lamps has health risks that include burns and skin cancers.

Tanning lamps give off ultraviolet radiation that’s 10 to 15 times stronger than the midday sun, said Vasum Peiris, MD, MPH, of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, in a news conference.

Skin damage caused by the UV radiation adds up over a person’s lifetime, so the concentrated doses delivered by tanning beds are especially dangerous for children and teens.

In 2014, the FDA reclassified tanning beds from lower risk to moderate risk devices. They also required them to carry the strongest type of safety caution, a black-box warning stating they shouldn’t be used by anyone under age 18, those with open wounds or injuries, or people with a family history of skin cancer. The agency also

Stress free life

Today, people’s wants have surpassed the requirement of three basic needs – Food, Clothing and Shelter. Comforts and luxuries have been added to these basic needs, making them dearer for everyone in the bargain. We all struggle today for a modernized need of the same things that our forefathers desired previously. Only that now, it has become more difficult and stressful to accomplish our goals and look forward to a future that we see.

All of this has led to Stressful Living. Stress, is a word that is very commonly used for all age groups today. It is regarded as a necessity for earning livelihood. It is looked upon a common occurrence in every individual’s life. ‘No Gain, Without Pain’ is the motto of today’s life. We have forgotten today of a life that can be lived without stress.

In common parlance, stress is associated with everyday working and the routine responsibilities that we carry out. Little is known beyond this definition of stress. Stress has its roots far deeper than just these causes and occurrences. Many may want to distinguish stress on the levels of physical and emotional well being. But even beyond this, there

1 With Healthy Foods, Taste Matters, Researchers Say

Taste exerts the biggest influence on people’s food choices and many believe that healthy foods don’t taste good, researchers report.

That means more needs to be done to make healthy foods appealing, the study authors said.

In the study, participants were presented with a variety of yogurts, each with different levels of sugar and fat. Even when given information about the ingredients, the participants were not more likely to select a healthier yogurt.

Unhealthy eaters were least likely to use information about ingredients when deciding which yogurt to choose, the investigators found.

However, both unhealthy and healthy eaters said taste was the main factor in their decision about which yogurt to select, and it could not be overcome by providing them with nutritional information, according to the study published recently in the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing.

“Despite a recent trend toward healthy eating behaviors, many consumers still tend to overconsume unhealthy foods because of two facts that work in combination,” study authors Robert Mai and Stefan Hoffmann, of Kiel University in Germany, said in a journal news release.

“Unhealthy is widely associated with being tasty, and taste is the main

Healthy Holiday Substitutions Can Help Your Heart

One way to serve up a heart-healthy Thanksgiving dinner is to use healthy substitutions in traditional recipes, the American Heart Association advises.

Bakers, for example, can use equal parts cinnamon-flavored, no-sugar added applesauce instead of butter; low-calorie sugar substitute instead of sugar; and low-fat or skim milk instead of whole or heavy cream.

Baked goods will also be healthier if you use half white flour and half whole-wheat flour instead of only white flour; dried fruit such as cranberries or cherries instead of chocolate chips or candies; and extracts such as vanilla, almond or peppermint to add flavor instead of sugar or butter, according to an American Heart Association (AHA) news release.

When cooking, the AHA suggests using vegetables oils such as olive oil instead of butter; herbs and spices such as rosemary and cloves to flavor dishes instead of butter and salt; and whole-grain pastas and breads instead of white bread.

It’s also advisable to bake, grill or steam vegetables instead of frying them, the heart experts say.

When filling your plate, don’t forget to balance it with different types of foods. The heart association suggests starting with a salad and vegetables.

Health Warning Labels Might Help Parents Skip the Soda Aisle

Health warning labels on sugary beverages — similar to those on cigarette packs — might make parents less likely to buy such beverages for their kids, according to new research.

Growing concerns about the health effects of drinking sugar-sweetened beverages, which are linked to weight gain and obesity as well as tooth decay, have triggered efforts to reduce their use by children and adults.

In the new study, lead researcher Christina Roberto and her colleagues conducted an online survey of nearly 2,400 parents who had at least one child aged 6 to 11 years.

In a simulated online shopping experiment, parents were divided into six groups to “buy” drinks for their kids. One group saw no warning label on the beverages they would buy; another saw a label listing calories. The other four groups saw various warning labels about the potential health effects of sugary beverage intake, including weight gain, obesity, type 2 diabetes and tooth decay.

Overall, only 40 percent of those who looked at the health warning labels chose a sugary drink. But, 60 percent of those who saw no label chose a sugary drink, as did 53 percent of those who

2 Eating More Healthy Fats May Extend Life, Study Suggests

For years, experts have preached the gospel of eating “healthy” fats and limiting “unhealthy” fats. Now, a new study contends that if people worldwide began to eat healthier fats, there might be more than a million fewer deaths from heart disease every year.

Although a great deal of attention has been focused on reducing saturated fats from the diet, the researchers said the focus should be two-fold: reducing unhealthy fats such as saturated fat and trans fats, and replacing them with healthy fats, such as polyunsaturated fats.

“Our findings highlight the importance of ending America’s fear of all fat. We estimate that nearly 50,000 Americans die of heart disease each year due to low intake of vegetable oils,” said Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, senior study author and dean of the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy in Boston.

However, while the study found an association between risk of death from heart disease and the types of fats consumed, it didn’t prove cause-and-effect.

The study was published online Jan. 20 in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Polyunsaturated fats are found in fatty fish (such as salmon, herring, mackerel and trout), soybeans,

Flu Season Will Likely Peak in February, Model Suggests

This flu season will likely peak in February and could be a mild one, according to a new model that aims to forecast the flu in the United States this winter.

The model uses information from past flu seasons, along with a mathematical representation of how influenza spreads through a population and the latest data on the current flu season, to predict how seasonal flu will pan out in the coming months.

According to the new model, there’s a less than 1 percent chance that the flu season will peak before January in most of the country, and a less than 20 percent chance that it will peak in January.

On the other hand, there’s a 57 percent chance that flu season will peak in February. That would be relatively late — the last three flu seasons have all peaked in December, said Dave Osthus, a researcher at Los Alamos National Laboratory who leads the flu forecast project.

The new model also predicts that this flu season will be mild, meaning there will be fewer flu cases than in a typical flu season.

The main reason for this prediction is that “historically, earlier-peaking

New Stick-On Device Could Monitor Heart Problems

An ultrathin and stretchable device that sticks to your skin like a sticker could one day be used to monitor your heart rate, according to a new report.

The researchers who designed the device say it could be used by patients who need to have their heart rates monitored continuously, such as those who suffer from heart problems like arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythms), or who have a greater risk of a heart attack.

Moreover, the device could be useful for people who are have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, because it could measure how fast the heart goes back to its resting rate after exercise, which is an important indicator of cardiovascular health, the researchers said.

The researchers are planning to make the device commercially available, but they estimate it will take several years to do this, said study author Dae-Hyeong Kim of the Institute for Basic Science in Seoul, Korea. However, in the near term, the device’s technology can be used to modify or improve existing health-monitoring devices, Kim told Live Science. [10 Technologies That Will Transform Your Life]

In the past few years, researchers have developed watches and bands that can monitor

Health Issue Brewing? ‘Kefir Beer’ May Someday Help

A craft beer made with ingredients from kefir — a fermented milk drink that resembles yogurt— may sound a little gross. But drinking it could bring health benefits, a new study done in rats suggests.

Moreover, the researchers in Brazil found that the “kefir beer” seemed to reduce inflammation and stomach ulcers that had been induced in the rats for the study.

Although the concept of kefir beer is interesting, it is too early to determine whether these health benefits would apply to humans, considering the study was done in an animal model, said Dr. Arun Swaminath, director of the inflammatory bowel disease program at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, who was not involved in the study. “It is a very preliminary study,” Swaminath told Live Science.

To make the kefir beer, the researchers added kefir grains — white or yellowish gelatinous clumps that contain bacteria and yeast — to a barley malt. The bacteria and yeast fermented the malt. For a control group, they also brewed another, regular kind of beer, where, instead of adding kefir grains, they added yeast to ferment the malt.

In one experiment in the study, the

Strong Social Connections Linked to Better Health

Eating healthy food and exercising play important roles in health and well-being, but if you are feeling lonely, you may also want to consider reaching out: A lack of social connection may have a negative impact on your physical health, new research suggests.

For example, older people ages 57 to 91 who felt socially isolated had more than double the risk of high blood pressure as those who didn’t feel isolated, the researchers found. They noted that this increase in risk (of 142 percent) was greater than the increase in the risk of high blood pressure that comes with having diabetes, which was a 49 percent increase in this age group.

Moreover, adolescents and teens ages 12 to 18 who felt socially isolated had a 27 percent increased risk of inflammation, compared with those who did not feel socially isolated, the researchers found. This difference is comparable to the 21 percent increase in the risk of inflammation that comes with physical inactivity among teens, the researchers said.

“It is as important to encourage individuals to build broad and good social relationships and increase social skills, interacting with others” as it is to encourage them to

Twins Study Offers Clues to Genetic Risk of Cancer

A large, new study of identical and fraternal twins in Nordic countries finds that when one twin is diagnosed with any type of cancer, there is a higher than average risk that the other twin will also develop cancer.

This risk of developing cancer was an estimated 14 percent higher in identical twins if one twin had cancer, and 5 percent higher in fraternal twins if one twin had cancer — compared to the average cancer risk of all the people in the study.

The researchers also found that for 20 out of the 23 specific types of cancer studied, if one twin developed one type of cancer, the risk of the second twin also developing that same type of cancer was higher than average. This was true for cancers of the prostate, skin (melanoma), breast, ovary and uterus, according to the study, published today (Jan. 5) in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

But the study also showed that among pairs of twins in which both individuals had developed cancer, more than two-thirds of the twins were diagnosed with different types of cancers. This suggests that, in some families, there is a

Palliative Care Center

Doctors facing death are less likely to demand aggressive care that might squeeze out a bit more extra time of life, two new studies show.

One study found that doctors facing the end of their lives are less likely than the general public to undergo surgery, be treated in an intensive care unit or die in a hospital.

“It seems to confirm the idea that physicians understand the limits of modern medicine at the end of life,” said lead author Joel Weissman. He is deputy director and chief scientific officer of the Center for Surgery and Public Health at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

“When faced with that kind of decision, they choose to have more peaceful and less aggressive care at end of life,” Weissman added.

Those findings were backed up by the second study, which found that physicians and people with higher education are less likely to die in a hospital than people in the general population.

“This suggests that being well-educated has an influence on how we experience death,” said study author Dr. Saul Blecker, an assistant professor of population health at New York University School of Medicine.