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ADVANCE Perspective: Respiratory Views

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Published March 24, 2016 11:46 AM by ADVANCE for Respiratory Care & Sleep Medicine

By Tamer Abouras


There are few dynamics in life as frustrating as moving one step forward, but falling two steps back. I can distinctly remember a year and a half period where — without any dramatic change to my usual workout routines — I steadily gained what ended up being about a pound every month.


It was maddening. I’d go ride a bike for an hour, then come home, rehydrate and would repeat this process day after day, only to find that at the week’s end the scale hadn’t budged. Or worse — it had lurched upward.


The problem — which I had long stubbornly denied — was sugar and snacks between meals. They’d become more commonplace for me, as had sugary sports drinks and extra cups of coffee and it eventually became undeniable: I was actively working against my efforts to be healthy.

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While I’m sure many can relate to a fairly common issue like that, have you ever considered the unintentional role you might be playing in some other health issues you’ve been dealing with? Especially with regard to things such as allergies that we often tend to write off as immutable forces of nature, studies continue to reveal that our capacity to control how much they affect us is much greater than first thought.


According to a new press release from American Family Care, there are as many as five regular habits we may be engaging in that are exacerbating those allergy symptoms. Here they are listed, in order, complete with explanations:


1: Eating certain fruits and vegetables: “We are raised to think eating our veggies is good for us. Researchers with the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America found proteins in certain foods can cause ragweed sufferers to end up with an itchy mouth. The experts say bananas, melons as well as tomatoes can cause a cross-reaction.”


2: Making your bed: “Dust mites love to put down roots in bedding and mattresses.  AFC physicians say at night, while you sleep, moisture from body sweat helps keep the little critters alive. When you make your bed in the morning, you are tucking in those pesky bugs, so they cannot escape. Airing out your sheets can make it harder for allergens and bedbugs to stay alive.”


3: Wearing contact lenses: “In some cases, AFC doctors say lenses can trap pollen against the surface of the eye. This can be an even bigger issue for anyone who is already suffering from red, itchy eyes triggered by seasonal allergies.”


4: Drinking Alcohol: “An extra glass of wine at dinner could irritate existing allergies. A Danish study found every additional alcoholic drink in a week increased the risk of seasonal allergies by 3%. The researchers suspect the bacteria and yeast in the alcohol produce histamines and cause a stuffy nose or itchy eyes.”


5: Using the dishwasher: “A Swedish study published in the journal Pediatrics found children do not develop as many allergies if they eat off of hand washed dishes rather than plates or bowls cleaned in a dishwasher.  Researchers found automated dishwashers kill so much bacteria, children cannot build up an immunity.”


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Certain fruits and vegetables and alcohol notwithstanding, some of these feel unreasonable or perhaps even ridiculous. You’ll need to wash dishes and make your bed, and it’s a bit of a double whammy to be hit with a need for glasses and/or contacts and then find out your allergies are limiting your options. On the other hand, inasmuch as you can stay away from the booze and resist the urge to eat bananas, melons and whichever veggies make your mouth itchy, you may be able to make a real dent in your allergy issues.


Whether or not these practical problem solving methods will be the magic bullet cure for your maladies, the most important thing is not to be stuck in neutral, because there’s almost nothing more irritating than that.


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