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Monthly Archives: October 2016

Differences Between Fall Allergies and Spring Allergies

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Image is from weather.com

Whether it’s tree pollen in the spring or ragweed in the fall, allergy symptoms remain the same: itchy, watery eyes, sneezing, runny nose, headache, and sinus pain and pressure. They also both induce an increase in asthma symptoms. The allergens, themselves, are different in the fall than they are in the spring, and sometimes, fall allergies can be more severe.

The reason that your allergies may be more severe in the fall is because there are far more allergens in the air. In the spring, you are dealing with mostly tree pollen, but in the fall, you are facing weed pollen and molds, which thrive in the fall’s damp weather. Fall’s rotting leaves provide the perfect home for mold growth, and they release spores into the air to reproduce. These tiny spores cause the allergy symptoms you experience. Mold can also build up in shower stalls and on basement walls, making it difficult for you to escape it if you are allergic to it.

There are also more indoor allergens to deal with in the fall, especially late in the season when you are getting out comforters and heavy blankets. This causes the dust mite problem to escalate and can even trigger a greater sensitivity to pet dander. By first frost, however, your outdoor triggers will cease, although due to climate changes, that first frost might begin to arrive later in the season than it has before due to a rise in temperatures and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Spring allergies can be just as volatile, however. This is when trees that have been dormant over the winter come to life and reproduce. They can release a large amount of pollen that many allergy sufferers are sensitive to. There are also many species of trees that release pollen in the spring including walnut, cedar, birch, cottonwood, maple, hickory, oak, and pine.

Just as the tree pollen begins to phase out in late spring, you are greeted with grass pollen, and there are many different grasses that produce this pollen. They include Kentucky bluegrass, Bermuda, rye, redtop, timothy, orchid, and sweet vernal. As the grass pollen fizzles out, the late summer ragweed begins releasing pollen, and the cycle begins again.

Knowing which allergens are present during each part of the spring and fall allergy season will help you to determine what you are allergic to. Once you know which allergen or allergens you are reacting to, you can check the pollen counts each day and plan accordingly.

You can also opt to see an allergist for testing and treatment. Once your doctor has determined what your triggers are, you can start immunotherapy. This involves exposing you to increasing amounts of your trigger by regular injections until your body has built up a resistance to it. Then when your allergy season comes around, you will be less likely to react to those triggers.

At the end of the day, both the spring and fall seasons have their share of bothersome allergens. Which season is worse comes down to what you are allergic to and how severe your allergy is.

 

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Understanding Foodborne Outbreaks

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Image is from stopdrugshortages.org

A foodborne outbreak occurs when there are two or more cases of confirmed illness after consumption of a specific food product. These outbreaks involve the CDC as well as other public health officials as staff members try to control, manage and prevent these types of occurrences. Many times, investigative work is needed in order to determine the scope of the outbreak, the extent and the original source. Learning from each situation is what helps prevent these outbreaks from occurring again in the future.

Investigation

Once reports are made that a foodborne illness was contracted, public health officials work with regulatory officials to collect a large amount of data. They want to know what the food or product was that caused the illness, what were the symptoms, what was the outcome, what batch was this from and so on. This information will be used long term for better quality control and regulations that are enforced by the U.S. Sometimes a recall will need to be issued in order to prevent more people from getting sick. Often times, a warning is all that is needed.

Some data will point specifically to a foodborne outbreak and this includes:

  • A pattern to the illness. Either all the cases were in a short period of time or from the same germ.
  • A larger number of people are ill within the same area than normal.
  • People who otherwise have no connection to one another are ill but ate at the same restaurant or purchased the same product.
  • Common point of confirmed contamination.
  • A certain germ of pathogen is found at a suspected restaurant or store.

Prevention

Ultimately, United States regulatory agencies want to protect the public and prevent foodborne outbreaks from occurring again. Investigation is important when an outbreak occurs, but ongoing research is also part of successful prevention. While not every case of foodborne outbreak is solved, many times there is at least a suspected source of the problem. This leads to better prevention at food producing facilities but also better prevention and investigation methods on a nationwide level.

Ongoing Reporting And Monitoring

An original complaint or report comes from a local or state level in most instances. From there, public health authorities will investigate the claim and involve the CDC when multiple states have become affected by a certain issue. Reports are compiled that include the number of illnesses that are present, hospitalizations, deaths, symptoms, toxins and chemicals that may have caused the issue.

Common symptoms of a foodborne outbreak typically include symptoms that are similar to food poisoning. Stomach upset, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, aches, etc. Seeking medical assistance can help reduce the severity and danger of the illness and can also lead to preventing other people from getting sick. It takes many different people to prevent foodborne outbreaks from occurring. It starts with the farms that produce our food and ends with the location selling and manufacturing our food. Proper quality control and agricultural practices are ideal for keeping everyone in the United States safe.

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