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    Here’s Why There’s More Air Pollution In Winter – And How To Solve It

    During colder months, you’re probably going to want to light the fire, close the windows and keep cosy. And, when loadshedding hits, flick on the generator and continue to ‘Netflix and chill’. But, if you want to stay healthy this winter, this is exactly what you shouldn’t be doing – unless you’ve invested in an air purifier, says Trevor Brewer, Director of air treatment and lifestyle specialist Solenco. That’s because indoor air pollution in winter can become a problem.

    In winter, the air gets a little dirtier, leading to respiratory illness that can get deadly. Per the WHO, Household air pollution was responsible for an estimated 3.2 million deaths per year in 2020, including over 237 000 deaths of children under the age of 5. Cooking with gas because of loadshedding? Watch out: these gases emit kerosene, which generates harmful household air pollution, says the WHO.

    Air pollution in winter – even indoors

    In South Africa, the particulate matter (read: pollution) in our air is regularly higher than the national standards. Around 86% of South Africa’s primary energy supply is from coal, and much of the particulate matter that we breathe in is caused in the process of generating coal-fired electricity, says Brewer.

    And indoor pollution can get bad. “Pollutants are microscopic particles of toxic chemicals that are small enough to enter the bloodstream. Because they’re so small, you can be sure they’re being carried into your home. In fact, the concentration of pollutants and toxins found in the air can actually be two to five times higher indoors than out,” says Brewer.

    Air Pollution Solutions

    Stay ventilated

    Keeping the windows closed may help to keep cold air out but it also keeps polluted air in. Dust, fumes from household chemicals, emissions from appliances, bacteria and germs, pet dander, damp and mould, and the pollutants discussed above, are all at home in your house when there’s no fresh air circulating. And with them come all the winter ailments.

    You could stock up on medicine to deal with the symptoms that come with seasonal changes, says Brewer, but he suggests that you rather prevent these adverse effects by investing in an air purifier for your home or office.

    Solenco Purification Pal

    This gadget keeps the air in your home clean by forcing air through an ultra-fine mesh that traps pollutants. Look for one with HEPA tech, like the Solenco Purification Pal, that removes 99.8% of particles as small as 0.3 microns from the air.

    Humidify your air

    The dryness of the air can constitute a health hazard, especially in cooler months. For people with respiratory or lung issues, cold and dry air narrows airways and makes it harder to breathe. Even if you’re healthy, dry air can cause pain, inflammation and headaches, asthma, allergies and hay fever, itchy, uncomfortable skin, and nose bleeds. What works? A humidifier, which can refresh the air by injecting purified water into your surroundings.

    Xiaomi Humidifier 2 Lite

    Brewer says an evaporative humidifier is a great way to keep your indoor air at optimal moisture levels and remove air impurities, to improve your comfort and your health. A smaller unit will service a bedroom or living area, while a whole-home unit can cover 370 square metres.

    Invest in air-purifying plants

    Some house plants can diffuse toxic chemicals in the air, like formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene. It’s essential to still clean your plants, since the leaves can collect dust, leading to allergies.

    Look for plants like English Ivy, Bamboo Palm and Aloe Vera. Snake plants are extremely pretty indoors and also help purify the air. More

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    6 Ways To Get Rid Of A Stuffy Nose Fast And Breathe Again, According To Doctors

    You know when you blow your nose and nothing comes out? Or when you try to inhale and it feels like a dead end? You’re likely stuck with a stuffy nose, and there are few things more annoying. It’s understandable you’d rush to search for how to get rid of a stuffy nose as soon as it crops up.

    What causes a stuffy nose?

    First, you should know the medical term for a stuffy nose is “rhinitis,” which means inflammation of the mucus membranes (a.k.a. mucosa) inside the nose, says Dr Craig Polinsky, an internal medicine specialist at Amicus Medical Centers. “When a person inhales an allergen into their nasal passage, either from a virus, bacteria, or any allergen, cells known as mast cells release a chemical called histamine, which starts the inflammatory process,” he explains. This is what causes mucus to build up, leading to a stuffy nose, along with other symptoms like sneezing, nasal itching, coughing, sinus pressure, and itchy eyes.

    You may think the mucus is to blame, but the stuffiness is mainly due to vein swelling in your nose, says Dr Steven Alexander, an otolaryngologist at ENT and Allergy Associates. “A lot of people will blow their nose repeatedly trying to get the mucus out, when the real issue is the swelling,” he notes. “Blowing your nose is useful, but if nothing is coming out, it generally means there’s not a lot of mucus.”

    Nose inflammation culprits

    The three common culprits behind inflammation in your nose are infections, allergies, and nonallergic rhinitis, says Dr. Alexander. Infections like COVID-19 and the common cold are caused by viruses or bacteria, while allergies are often seasonal and related to triggers in the environment such as pollen, dust, and animal dander. And nonallergic rhinitis is set off by pollution and temperature changes.

    To find the appropriate remedy, you’ll first need to find out what’s causing your stuffy nose. If you are experiencing itchy or watery eyes along with sneezing and runny nose, it’s likely allergies or nonallergic rhinitis. But if you have discharge from your nose that is thick, yellow, or green, then it’s more likely to be infectious.

    Ready for some much-needed relief and to breathe again? Try one of the following treatments recommended by experts.

    Meet the experts: Dr Craig Polinsky, is an internal medicine physician with 23 years of experience. He practices at Amicus Medical Centers in Palm Beach, Florida.

    Dr Steven Alexander, is an otolaryngologist and a member of the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery and the American Medical Association. He treats all ear, nose, and throat disorders in adults and children.

    1. Use a saline nasal spray.

    A saline nasal spray is a simple, sterile, saltwater solution that is good for congested nasal cavities, says Dr. Alexander. This over-the-counter treatment works by drawing water out of the congested mucosa in your nose, ultimately shrinking the swollen nasal tissue and clearing up the stuffiness, he explains.

    Saline spray is a safe option for all adults and can be used as often as needed to relieve symptoms, but overuse may cause some of the fluid to drip from your nose.

    2. Try nasal saline irrigation.

    Nasal irrigation (also known as sinus irrigation) is a variation of a saline nasal spray. It still uses a saline solution, but is applied with a larger sinus irrigation squeeze bottle, such as a neti pot. The saline gets deeper into the nasal cavity and goes around the back of the nose to come out the other side, says Dr. Alexander. This OTC method may be more effective than a saline spray because the larger volume of solution covers a larger area in the nose, rinsing it clean.

    Nasal irrigation is safe for all ages, but if you are immunocompromised, check in with your doctor before attempting this, as nasal problems could indicate something more serious.

    For a homemade solution, Dr. Alexander recommends adding ¼ teaspoon of kosher salt (so that it does not include iodine) and ¼ teaspoon of baking soda into eight ounces of sterile water (either distilled water or water you boil for 10 minutes and cool.) “Never use tap or bottled water without sterilizing it,” he notes.

    3. Take an antihistamine.

    Antihistamines such as Allergex can also help wipe out any congestion. “These medicines block the production of histamine, which is the primary driver of inflammation and mucus production,” says Dr. Polinsky. And if you also have sneezing and sinus pressure, he recommends using antihistamines along with a nasal spray. While safe for most people, talk to your doctor before taking antihistamines if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding.

    4. Reach for a medicated nasal spray.

    If you’re looking for congestion relief stat, the fastest OCT remedy is Afrin (also known as oxymetazoline), says Dr. Alexander. “It works within minutes by constricting the blood vessels in your nasal mucosa, decreasing swelling and opening your nasal airways.”

    While effective, it is extremely important to use it only occasionally and for short periods of time. “When it constricts the blood vessels in your nose, the tissue gets less oxygen, and with prolonged use, it can cause damage to the tissue,” explains Dr. Alexander. The mucosa then responds to the damage by swelling up even more, making you feel worse. “It’s best used no more than twice a day for no more than three days in a row,” he says. “After that, stay away for at least a month.”

    Corticosteroid nasal sprays also work by constricting the mucus membranes in the nose and decreasing inflammation, says Dr. Polinsky. “One of the benefits of corticosteroid nasal sprays is that they are readily available, and the medicine works just in the nasal passage.” In other words, it won’t make you drowsy.

    Dr. Polinsky recommends one or two sprays per day, and while you might have a little blood in the mucus if you blow your nose afterwards, it’s nothing to worry about. If the bleeding becomes severe, stop use and check in with your doctor.

    5. Get some eucalyptus oil.

    If you’re looking for a natural home remedy, Dr. Polinsky suggests eucalyptus oil. Studies showed it can work as a pain reliever. It also has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties to decrease mucus production and nasal inflammation. “Eucalyptus oil can be inhaled in a steam through a diffuser to reduce nasal symptoms or by adding a few drops of oil into a bowl of hot water,” says Dr. Polinsky. There are also eucalyptus lozenges and vapor rubs, which can also help to clear the nose.

    While eucalyptus oil is safe to smell and inhale, avoid ingesting or putting it directly on your face. Also, make sure to store it in a cool, dry place. Heat and direct sunlight can change the composition of this essential oil.

    6. Turn on your humidifier.

    Humidifiers can reduce nasal congestion and sinus pain by releasing water vapour into the air and loosening the mucus in your nose, says Dr. Polinsky. Sleeping with a humidifier on also increases moisture and humidity, eliminating dry air that can irritate and inflame the nasal passageways.

    Humidifiers can help ease symptoms, but always use a cool-mist model to avoid burns and keep it several feet away from the bed, according to the National Library of Medicine. Use distilled water in the unit and remember to frequently drain and clean since bacteria can grow in stagnant water.

    This article was first published in More

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    How Can I Tell If My Symptoms Are Allergies, Or A Possible COVID-19 Infection?

    Allergy season is upon us! And having to deal with the heightened symptoms while also dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic can be both daunting and anxiety-fuelling. So, it’s not weird to have a few questions about allergies right now…
    Fortunately, the Allergy Foundation of South Africa recently hosted a webinar specifically dedicated to answering questions around allergies and COVID-19 with paediatrician and allergologist Dr Candice Royal. Let’s look at some of the most important take-outs from the conversation.
    Q: How can I tell if my symptoms are from my allergy or a possible COVID-19 infection?
    Dr Candice Royal: “Some allergy symptoms overlap with the symptoms of COVID-19. If you’ve got nasal congestion, a sore throat and a cough, you might think you have COVID-19. This is why it’s always important to make sure your rhinitis is under control and that you prioritise taking specific measures to ease your allergy symptoms so you can limit the diagnostic confusion.”
    Q: My allergies make wearing a mask uncomfortable. Is there an alternative?
    DCR: “Just to go over the basics – a mask is worn mostly to prevent your droplets from being spread to other people. So, the primary intention isn’t to protect you, but to protect others. It’s a very important public health measure to reduce infection.
    “But should you find wearing a mask difficult, the alternative that could be considered is wearing a visor/face shield instead.
    “The real question is probably why your allergic rhinitis is out of control and whether there are any simple adjustments to your treatment plan that could further ease your symptoms. I’d suggest getting in touch with your doctor and going over everything again to make sure your management treatment is as efficient as possible and to also make sure you don’t have excess allergen exposure.”
    Q: I carry an EpiPen for my allergy. If I get a severe form of COVID-19 and go into respiratory distress, would the use of my EpiPen help my breathing like it would during anaphylaxis?
    DCR: “An EpiPen is an adrenaline auto-injector and its role is to offer emergency treatment following exposure to an allergen that has produced a severe reaction. It works by giving you a quick dose of adrenaline, which helps to shut off that allergic reaction.
    “So, this is an entirely different mechanism to the respiratory distress that’s caused by illnesses such as COVID-19. Unfortunately, an EpiPen is not going to help should you have respiratory symptoms of another cause – it is specifically for treating anaphylaxis or severe reactions.”
    Q: I have eczema and sanitisers are proving to be an issue for my skin because of the frequent use. What can I do to make this better?
    DCR: “Consider washing your hands with water and a glycerin soap more often than using a hand sanitiser. Of course, as you go into shopping malls or to work, you often have to use a hand sanitiser, and should that be the case – make sure to use emollient cream immediately afterward.
    “Carry emollients with you everywhere you go so that you can make sure that your hands are always being moisturised after using a hand sanitiser.”
    READ MORE: 9 Doctor-Approved Products That Will Help Relieve Your Eczema
    Q: My son was supposed to start peanut desensitisation just before lockdown, but we’ve put a hold on it for now. Is there a timeframe for this in terms of age?
    DCR: “It does seem that the younger you are when you start that process, the more effective it is. But we don’t have an age limit per se. We have seen teenagers go through this process successfully. But the earlier you start, the better.”
    Q: Is there a specific diet that can help with asthma and allergies during this time?
    DCR: “In terms of asthma, there isn’t a specific diet that we recommend. Obviously, if you’ve got a food allergy then you’re going to exclude that specific food type from your diet. But in terms of a healthy diet, it’s not anything complicated. It’s about having a diet with a wide variety of good fruits and vegetables and consuming adequate sources of all the essential macro and micronutrients.
    “We can’t recommend a specific diet for people with asthma and allergies – it’s just about applying general health measures that would apply to the general population.”
    Q: I have idiopathic anaphylaxis [severe allergic reactions with no obvious cause] and suffer attacks three to four times a year. I’m often prescribed steroids and antihistamines for long periods after each episode – do these medicines increase my risk for COVID-19?
    DCR: “It does appear to be the case that steroids can make one more vulnerable to getting infections in general. However, we don’t yet have good evidence that being on steroids makes one more vulnerable to a COVID-19 infection, or a more severe case of COVID-19. We do [however] have evidence that people on steroids may shed the virus for longer.
    “Remember that it’s always better to be on your controlling medication than not, so if that’s the medication you need, it’s advised that you stay on it and not wean yourself off it.”
    Q: I have allergies to paracetamol and anti-inflammatories and I’m worried that if I get COVID-19, it will be difficult to treat. What should I do?
    DCR: “Having an allergy to medications doesn’t make you more vulnerable to either infection or severe COVID-19. But when you have allergies to the medications that we commonly use to treat the symptoms, I’d advise that you speak with your doctor to find an alternative.”
    Q: How should I approach the treatment of my allergies, generally?
    DCR: “It’s important to understand that allergic disorders don’t occur in isolation and need to be treated holistically. They have an impact on one’s entire emotional, psychological and physical wellbeing. For example, having eczema is not just having a skin disorder – it has huge implications on how one feels. Itching and scratching all the time makes one feel irritable, restless, unable to get quality sleep, exhausted and so on.
    “So, it’s important – especially in these anxiety-filled times – to understand that you shouldn’t only focus on the physical management of your symptoms, but also prioritise looking after your emotional and psychological health.”

    READ MORE ON: Allergies Coronavirus COVID-19 Health Health Advice More

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    Should You Get A Steroid Shot For Your Allergies?

    There’s no sugarcoating the fact that allergies are an absolute pain in the you-know-what. And when the change in season rolls around, allergy sufferers have to deal with weeks and weeks of red, itchy eyes and plenty of sneezing. And it seems like allergy season just keeps getting worse, right?! Well, the severity of allergy […] More

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    You Would Never Guess These Fish Meals Were Vegan

    Yep, that’s right. There’s a new fish in the sea and just like your friends, this one is fake. Joking! About your pals… But super serious about the fish. Say howzit to this plant-based piranha. Let the people eat fish… Fry’s Family Food Co. fake fish An email recently floated into my inbox, inviting me […] More