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Newsletter. Issue 2005-11. May. 27, 2005
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Health & Wellness

Am I born with allergies?

No. You develop them after you are exposed to allergens. It usually happens during your first few years but it can happen anytime – even well into adulthood. Sometime a child's allergy symptoms will diminish later in life. Maybe even go away completely.

How do I know that my allergy symptoms aren't just a cold?
You can be pretty sure your hacking and sneezing are the result of an allergy if:

  • There is no fever and no muscle ache.
  • Mucous secretions are clear and runny.
  • Sneezes occur in rapid, multiple sequence.
  • Your nose, ears and throat (especially the palate or roof of the mouth) are itchy.
  • Your symptoms last longer than the typical cold, which is usually seven to 10 days.
If you're still not convinced, your doctor can perform skin or blood tests to confirm whether you are allergic to something.

What can I do to reduce my exposure to the stuff that makes me so miserable?
There are a number of steps you can take, short of moving into a hermetically sealed chamber:

  • Stay inside when the pollen count is high (especially between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. when it's usually at its highest), and keep your windows and doors closed.
  • Air conditioning can also help – but you must clean or change your furnace's air filter often.
  • If you need to get out of the house on days when pollen counts are high or it's windy outside, consider going to air conditioned venues for your leisure activities.
  • Wear a filter mask if you're going to be working around the yard.
  • If you're driving, keep the windows closed and use the air conditioner.
  • Keep your home as allergy-free as possible. Consider replacing carpets with wood or laminate flooring.
  • Change your sheets and pillowcases often.

If you're a woman, consider having several children. An Italian study suggests the more children a woman has, the less likely she'll suffer from seasonal allergic rhinitis.

There's a theory that a small family size increases a child's risk of developing allergies because of the "hygiene hypothesis." It argues that fewer infections in childhood leads to increasing allergic sensitization, because your body does not have as much opportunity to build up protection against some antibodies. Without regular priming, the theory goes, the immune system gets bored and overreacts to pollens, or other allergens.

I'm not staying in all spring and summer. How can I treat my allergies?
Antihistamines. These pills contain drugs that are supposed to neutralize the histamines that are produced when allergens irritate your immune system.
Allergy pills have come a long way in the past 30 years. It wasn't that long ago that the only allergy pills on the market may have cleared up your symptoms, but left you so drowsy you couldn't function very well.
That type of pill is still on the market – and may be the best choice for some people. Newer allergy medications are less likely to make people drowsy. Some of them, however, can leave your mouth and your skin feeling dry.
In Canada, most allergy pills are available over the counter – you don't need a prescription.
If your symptoms are more severe, there are nasal sprays and eye drops you can also take. Several require a prescription.

Nasal sprays work by coating your nasal passages and protecting them from becoming irritated by allergens. However, you should start taking these sprays well before allergy symptoms start for them to work effectively.

What about allergy shots?
This is another option, for some people. Injection therapy, however, has been shown to have little or no effect for about 30 per cent of allergy sufferers. As well, showing up for a shot once a week for three to five years is tough for a lot of people.

With allergy shots, you are injected with a small amount of the allergen once a week. The exposure is slowly increased until you build up a resistance to the allergen. Forty per cent of patients can expect excellent results.

Can allergies lead to more severe illnesses?
In some cases, severe allergic symptoms can lead to asthma. Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways. The American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology estimates that as many as 38 per cent of people with allergic rhinitis may also have asthma.

According to the 1996-97 National Population Health Survey, more than 2.2 million Canadians have been diagnosed with asthma by a physician (12.2 per cent of children and 6.3 per cent of adults).
The survey also found that asthma in children has become a bigger problem over the past 15 years. Asthma mortality rates increased from 1970 to the mid-1980s – especially for people aged 15-24 or over 65. By 1995, mortality rates had decreased to below the 1970 level – except among in the 15-24 year age group.
Hospitalization rates for asthma increased for children in the 1980s. By the mid-1990s the rate had started to decrease but remained higher than the rate in the 1970s.

Asthma kills more than 500 Canadians a year – and sends another 150,000 to hospital for treatment.

Qs Your Daddy!
This Father's Day, give dad the thrill of a grill
But know how to choose the right one
TORONTO, May 25 /CNW/ - Everyone knows that men love to grill. Grilling is perceived by most guys as one of the few remaining male-only, testosterone-filled rituals - starting and maintaining the flame, watching the food sizzle and sear while enjoying a chilled beverage of choice, then presenting family, friends or neighbors with a finished culinary delight that generates a plethora of praise. No wonder that many families want to buy the ultimate gift of a gas grill for Dad on Father's Day.
However, shopping for the right grill for your dad can be challenging if you don't know some of the basics. Overall, keep in mind that the top three things grilling enthusiasts want to avoid are 1) uncontrollable flare-ups,
2) grills that fall apart after a couple of seasons, and
3) burnt food (most people blame burnt food on the chef, but often times it's the quality of the grill). It's important to make sure that a one-time bargain doesn't turn into a long-term disappointment: Invest in a quality grill so Dad can focus on dinner and not his toolbox!
Here are some insider tips to find the right gas grill for Dad that will be part of the family for years to come:

  1. Choose a Grill with Preassembled and/or Welded Parts. It will be much more stable and stand up to everyday use. Look for easy-to-follow instructions and precision cast and die-cut parts for easy and accurate assembly. Even if the store assembles it for you, you want the least number of fasteners which can come loose over the grill's life.
  2. Choose a Grill with a Long Warranty Period. The best manufacturers can afford to stand behind their products. The warranty should be at least five years on all parts. Make sure promises for long-term or lifetime warranties aren't shrouded in fine print
  3. Choose a Well Known Company with a Reputation for Quality. Do you know and trust the name on the hood? Look for company with a history of great customer service-one you can reach later if you need accessories, service, and (eventually) replacement parts. Look for a customer service phone number and website address.
  4. Give it the Wiggle Test. Grab the grill by the sides and give it a good shake. If it doesn't feel sturdy at the store, you can bet it's going to fall apart in your backyard. A well built grill feels solid and stable and is made of high-grade steel, baked-on porcelain enamel, and heavy-gauge stainless steel.
  5. Take a Good Look Inside. Most grill shoppers stop at opening and closing the hood. If it feels heavy, they think the grill is good. But just like buying a new car, you need to check under the hood and inspect the inner workings.
  6. Cooking Grates. Look for durable cooking grates made of porcelain- enameled steel, stainless steel, or porcelain-enameled cast iron.
  7. Under the Grates. Beneath the cooking grates you will see some type of system to disperse heat from the burners and channel away food drippings. Stay clear of lava rock or ceramic briquets. Drippings can pool on these surfaces causing nasty flare-ups. The best design is a v-shaped metal bar that rests on top of the burners to vaporize drippings.
  8. What about the Burner System? Make sure the grill is equipped with at least two individually controlled burners to enable you to cook by the Direct and Indirect cooking method. Burners should be made of high-grade stainless steel.
  9. Where Does the Grease Go? Look for a system that funnels drippings down and away form the burners into a high-capacity catch pan - at least one inch deep - that can be accessed easily from the front of run from the tank to the grill - is it a safe distance from the hot underside of the grill? Are the wires for the igniter also tucked safely away? Cheap grills from unskilled manufacturers don't always put safety first.
To download a copy of the "How to Shop for a Gas Grill" guide that has illustrations and even more tips, visit www.weber.com(R).

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