Sunday, September 25, 2011

Thought of the Day

Allow Your Own Inner Light to Guide You

There comes a time when you must stand alone.
You must feel confident enough within yourself to follow your own dreams.
You must be willing to make sacrifices.
You must be capable of changing and rearranging your priorities so that your final goal can be achieved.
Sometimes, familiarity and comfort need to be challenged.
There are times when you must take a few extra chances and create your own realities.
Be strong enough to at least try to make your life better.
Be confident enough that you won't settle for a compromise just to get by.
Appreciate yourself by allowing yourself the opportunities to grow, develop, and find your true sense of purpose in this life.
Don't stand in someone else's shadow when it's your sunlight that should lead the way.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Cough Relief: How to Lose a Bad Cough

By Joanna Broder
Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD
WebMD Feature

 Cold and flu season brings on hacking coughs that can leave your chest aching. But colds and flu aren’t the only problems that cause coughing. Allergies, asthma, acid reflux, dry air, and smoking are common causes of coughs. Even medications such as certain drugs for high blood pressure and allergies can cause chronic cough.

Most of the time, people can manage their coughs at home by taking over-the-counter medicine and cough lozenges, removing potential allergens, or even just standing in a steamy shower, says Giselle Mosnaim, an allergist and immunologist also at Rush.

Try these five tips to manage your cough at home:
1. Stay Hydrated 
Drinking fluids helps to thin out the mucus in postnasal drip. Drinking liquids also helps to keep mucous membranes moist. This is particularly helpful in the winter time when houses tend to be dry, another cause of cough.

2. Try Lozenges and Hot Drinks
Try a menthol cough drop, Yoder suggests. “It numbs the back of the throat and that will tend to decrease the cough reflex.”
Drinking warm tea with honey can also soothe the throat. There is some clinical evidence to support this strategy, Yoder says.
3. Take Steamy Showers and Use a Humidifier
A hot shower can help a cough by loosening secretions in the nose. Mosnaim says this steamy strategy can help ease coughs not only from colds, but also from allergies and asthma.
Humidifiers may also help. In a dry home, nasal secretions can become desiccated and uncomfortable, Mosnaim explains. Putting moisture back in the air can help your cough, but be careful not to overdo it.
“The downside is if you don’t clean it, (humidifiers) become reservoirs for pumping out fungus and mold into the air and bacteria,” says Robert Naclerio, MD, chief of otolaryngology at the University of Chicago.

4. Remove Irritants in the Air
Perfumes and scented bathroom sprays may seem benign, but for some people they can cause chronic sinus irritation. This leads to chronic cough because of the production of excess mucus, says Alan Weiss, MD, a general internist at the Cleveland Clinic. Take control by avoiding such scented products.
The worst irritant in the air, of course, is smoke. Almost all smokers eventually develop the “smoker’s cough." Everyone around the smoker may suffer from some airway irritation. The best solution? Smokers need to stop smoking. (Yoder warns that severe chronic coughs can be a sign of emphysema or lung cancer in smokers, so be sure to see a doctor if you’re a smoker with chronic cough.)

5. Take Medications to Treat Coughs
When steamy showers, hot teas, and cough drops don’t help, you can turn to over-the-counter medicines to ease your cough.
Decongestants: Decongestants relieve nasal congestion by shrinking swollen nasal tissue and reducing mucus production. They dry up mucus in the lungs and open up the airway passages, says Weiss.
Decongestants come in pills, liquids, and nasal spray formulations. Oral decongestants such as pills and liquids can raise blood pressure, so people with hypertension need to be careful with their use, Mosnaim notes. Also, overuse of decongestants can lead to excessive dryness, which can trigger a dry cough.
Decongestant nasal sprays, if used for more than three or four days, can lead to rebound congestion, Mosnaim says. It’s best to use them for two or three days and then stop.

Cough suppressants and expectorants: If you’re coughing so much that your chest hurts and you’re getting a bad night’s sleep, consider a cough suppressant such as dextromethorphan, found in Delsym, DexAlone, and Vicks Formula 44, says Mosnaim. Yoder recommends using cough suppressants only at night.
When a person has a cough that is thick with phlegm, Mosnaim says it helps to take a cough expectorant such as guaifenesin, found in Humibid, Mucinex, Robitussin Chest Congestion, and Tussin. Expectorants help to thin out the mucus so one can more easily cough it up, she says.
Note: The FDA advises against giving cold and cough medicine to children under age 4. These common over-the-counter drugs can cause serious side effects in young children.

Find Out What’s Causing Your Cough
Coughs caused by the common cold usually go away in a few weeks. Chronic, persistent coughs may be caused by underlying medical problem such as allergies, asthma, or acid reflux -- or by the medications you take. To lose those coughs you need to treat the underlying problem.
Talk to your doctor if your cough lasts longer than two to four weeks, or if you are coughing up blood, or if you’re having other symptoms such as weight loss, chills, or fatigue.

Got Heartburn? You May Want to Avoid These Foods

When we overeat or consume spicy foods, many times the gate between our esophagus and stomach doesn't close, which allows acid to move into the esophagus and therefore cause a burning sensation called heartburn. If you happen to experience more than two heartburn episodes per week, then you may be one of the 20 percent of adults who suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Heartburn can be triggered by factors such as being overweight, smoking cigarettes, overeating, or taking aspirin or ibuprofen — but did you know that specific foods cause heartburn as well?

According to the American Gastroenterological Association, here are the foods that you should avoid to reduce your chances of experiencing heartburn:
  • Fried, fatty foods.
  • Foods that contain peppermint or chocolate — I thought peppermint would have the opposite effect!
  • Carbonated drinks, alcoholic beverages, and coffee.
  • Tomato sauces and condiments like ketchup and mustard.
  • Any acidic foods (foods containing vinegar, citrus juices, and citrus fruits).
If you do get a sudden case of heartburn, try to keep yourself upright. If you are lying down, prop yourself up with some pillows since this will prevent more acid from seeping into your esophagus.

Taking an antacid can help (it neutralizes the acid in your stomach). Take ones that contain both magnesium hydroxide and aluminum hydroxide (one causes constipation while the other causes diarrhea so they counteract each other) like over-the-counter brands Maalox and Mylanta. And for natural healing remedies, try some papaya enzymes, or make sure you eat some of the foods which are said to prevent heartburn.