heart failure

Everyone, including people in excellent shape, can experience pain in their chest during exercise. The many potential causes range from benign to potentially life-threatening.

Everyone who exercises regularly should recognize the symptoms that can accompany chest pain when the underlying issue is serious.

Read on to learn more about the causes of chest pain during exercise and how to treat and prevent them.

Causes

Serious conditions, such as heart attacks, and less serious issues, such as muscle strains and asthma, can lead to chest pain during exercise.

Heart attack

Myocardial infarction is the medical term for a heart attack. A heart attack occurs when the coronary arteries become blocked. The blockage causes the heart to lose oxygen. If a person does not receive treatment, the heart muscle can die.

A heart attack can cause pain in the jaw, back, chest, and other parts of the upper body. The pain may go away and return, or it may last longer than a few minutes.

Other symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • pressure or pain in the chest
  • sweating
  • nausea
  • dizziness
  • anxiety
  • shortness of breath

Heart attack symptoms can vary. Both men and women are likely to report chest pain, but women are more likely to experience:

  • back pain
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • jaw pain
  • shortness of breath

If a person experiences any symptoms of a heart attack, they should seek immediate medical attention.

According to the American Heart Association, the most common risk factors for a heart attack include:

  • Age. People ages 65 and older are most at risk.
  • Sex. Men have a much higher risk, even when they are younger, than women.
  • Genetics. African-Americans and people with a family history of heart disease are more vulnerable to heart attacks and heart disease.

Angina pectoris

Angina pectoris, or angina, is a pain that stems from the heart. The main cause of angina is a lack of blood flow to the area. When this occurs, a person may feel tightness, pain, or pressure in their chest.

Some additional symptoms of angina include:

  • tightness in the arms or jaw
  • shortness of breath
  • fatigue
  • nausea

Exercise and stress can cause angina, and people often mistake this pain for a heart attack. A person should seek immediate medical attention if they experience any symptoms of a heart attack.

According to the American College of Cardiology, women are three times more likely than men to experience throat discomfort and jaw tightness or pain because of angina.

Women may also experience sharper pain, while men are more likely to experience feelings of pressure associated with angina.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM)

According to the American Heart Association, HCM is a common condition that can affect nearly anyone.

HCM occurs when the cells of the heart muscle enlarge, causing the walls of the ventricles to thicken.

HCM can also result if the wall dividing the left and right sides of the heart grows and puts pressure on the ventricles.

In either case, the heart has to work harder to pump blood, and a person may experience:

  • dizziness
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain
  • fainting

In some people, HCM presents no symptoms. In rare cases, a person may experience sudden cardiac arrest during physical activities.

Asthma

Asthma is a common condition that affects the airways in the lungs.

People with asthma have inflamed airways that tighten in response to triggers, including exercise. The medical term for this is exercise-induced bronchoconstriction.

A person with a family history of asthma is more likely to develop it. People with asthma may experience:

  • wheezing
  • coughing
  • chest tightness
  • shortness of breath

Muscle strain and injuries

According to a research paper published in 2013, nearly half of all reported cases of muscle strains in the chest involve the intercostal muscles. These help a person breathe and stabilize the chest.

Common symptoms of muscle strains in the chest include:

  • sharp pain
  • bruising
  • swelling
  • pain while breathing
  • difficulty moving the area

The most common cause of a muscle strain is overuse. As a result, people who regularly exercise the chest muscles are more likely to experience a strain or tear.

The risk of chest muscle strains varies by age group:

  • Older adults are more likely to get this type of strain from a fall.
  • Children are least likely to develop this strain.
  • Adults are most likely to sustain this strain from exercise, sports, or high-impact crashes.

When to see a doctor

Speak to a doctor about any new, unidentified, or worsening chest pain. A doctor can help determine the underlying cause and recommend a treatment plan, which may include lifestyle changes.

Seek emergency medical treatment for any symptoms of a heart attack. Chest pain is the most common symptom, and certain other symptoms, such as nausea, are more common in women than men.

A person with exercise-induced asthma should seek specific treatment. A doctor may be able to prescribe medication and suggest other ways to reduce symptoms. This may enable a person to continue exercising or participating in sports.

Prevention and precautions

Not all chest pain is preventable. However, there are some general tips for preventing some causes of chest pain, such as heart attacks, strains, and asthma.

A person may be able to prevent chest pain by:

  • eating a balanced diet
  • exercising regularly
  • avoiding tobacco smoke and alcohol
  • managing high blood pressure with medications
  • avoiding activities that increase the risk of physical injury
  • controlling asthma with medications

Outlook

A range of conditions, from muscle strains to heart attacks, can cause chest pain during exercise.

Anyone who experiences this pain should consult a healthcare provider about the best course of treatment. Some causes of chest pain can be serious.

Many people can prevent chest pain by making lifestyle changes and following a doctor’s treatment plan.

If any symptoms of a heart attack occur, seek immediate medical attention.

Stroke prevention can start today. Protect yourself and avoid stroke, regardless of your age or family history.

What can you do to prevent stroke? Age makes us more susceptible to having a stroke, as does having a mother, father, or other close relative who has had a stroke.

You can’t reverse the years or change your family history, but there are many other stroke risk factors that you can control—provided that you’re aware of them. “Knowledge is power,” says Dr. Natalia Rost, associate professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School and associate director of the Acute Stroke Service at Massachusetts General Hospital. “If you know that a particular risk factor is sabotaging your health and predisposing you to a higher risk of stroke, you can take steps to alleviate the effects of that risk.”

How to prevent stroke
Here are seven ways to start reining in your risks today to avoid stroke, before a stroke has the chance to strike.
1. Lower blood pressure

High blood pressure is a huge factor, doubling or even quadrupling your stroke risk if it is not controlled. “High blood pressure is the biggest contributor to the risk of stroke in both men and women,” Dr. Rost says. “Monitoring blood pressure and, if it is elevated, treating it, is probably the biggest difference people can make to their vascular health.”

Your ideal goal: Maintain a blood pressure of less than 135/85. But for some, a less aggressive goal (such as 140/90) may be more appropriate.

How to achieve it:
*Reduce the salt in your diet to no more than 1,500 milligrams a day (about a half teaspoon).
*Avoid high-cholesterol foods, such as burgers, cheese, and ice cream.
*Eat 4 to 5 cups of fruits and vegetables every day, one serving of fish two to three times a week, and several daily servings of whole grains and low-fat dairy.
*Get more exercise — at least 30 minutes of activity a day, and more, if possible.
*Quit smoking, if you smoke.
*If needed, take blood pressure medicines.

2. Lose weight
Obesity, as well as the complications linked to it (including high blood pressure and diabetes), raises your odds of having a stroke. If you’re overweight, losing as little as 10 pounds can have a real impact on your stroke risk.

Your goal: While an ideal body mass index (BMI) is 25 or less, that may not be realistic for you. Work with your doctor to create a personal weight loss strategy.

How to achieve it:
*Try to eat no more than 1,500 to 2,000 calories a day (depending on your activity level and your current BMI).
*Increase the amount of exercise you do with activities like walking, golfing, or playing tennis, and by making activity part of every single day.

3. Exercise more
Exercise contributes to losing weight and lowering blood pressure, but it also stands on its own as an independent stroke reducer.

Your goal: Exercise at a moderate intensity at least five days a week.

How to achieve it:
Take a walk around your neighborhood every morning after breakfast.
Start a fitness club with friends.
When you exercise, reach the level at which you’re breathing hard, but you can still talk.
Take the stairs instead of an elevator when you can.
If you don’t have 30 consecutive minutes to exercise, break it up into 10- to 15-minute sessions a few times each day.

4. If you drink — do it in moderation
Drinking a little alcohol may decrease your risk of stroke. “Studies show that if you have about one drink per day, your risk may be lower,” says to Dr. Rost. “Once you start drinking more than two drinks per day, your risk goes up very sharply.”

Your goal: Don’t drink alcohol or do it in moderation.

How to achieve it:
*Have no more than one glass of alcohol a day.
*Make red wine your first choice, because it contains resveratrol, which is thought to protect the heart and brain.
*Watch your portion sizes. A standard-sized drink is a 5-ounce glass of wine, 12-ounce beer, or 1.5-ounce glass of hard liquor.

5. Treat atrial fibrillation
Atrial fibrillation is a form of irregular heartbeat that causes clots to form in the heart. Those clots can then travel to the brain, producing a stroke. “Atrial fibrillation carries almost a fivefold risk of stroke, and should be taken seriously,” Dr. Rost says.

Your goal: If you have atrial fibrillation, get it treated.

How to achieve it:
*If you have symptoms such as heart palpitations or shortness of breath, see your doctor for an exam.
*You may need to take an anticoagulant drug (blood thinner) such as warfarin (Coumadin) or one of the newer direct-acting anticoagulant drugs to reduce your stroke risk from atrial fibrillation. Your doctors can guide you through this treatment.

6. Treat diabetes
Having high blood sugar damages blood vessels over time, making clots more likely to form inside them.
Your goal: Keep your blood sugar under control.

How to achieve it:
*Monitor your blood sugar as directed by your doctor.
*Use diet, exercise, and medicines to keep your blood sugar within the recommended range.

7. Quit smoking
Smoking accelerates clot formation in a couple of different ways. It thickens your blood, and it increases the amount of plaque buildup in the arteries. “Along with a healthy diet and regular exercise, smoking cessation is one of the most powerful lifestyle changes that will help you reduce your stroke risk significantly,” Dr. Rost says.

Your goal: Quit smoking.

How to achieve it:
*Ask your doctor for advice on the most appropriate way for you to quit.
*Use quit-smoking aids, such as nicotine pills or patches, counseling, or medicine.
*Don’t give up. Most smokers need several tries to quit. See each attempt as bringing you one step closer to successfully beating the habit.

Identify a stroke F-A-S-T
Too many people ignore the signs of stroke because they question whether their symptoms are real. “My recommendation is, don’t wait if you have any unusual symptoms,” Dr. Rost advises. Listen to your body and trust your instincts. If something is off, get professional help right away.”

The National Stroke Association has created an easy acronym to help you remember, and act on, the signs of a stroke. Cut out this image and post it on your refrigerator for easy reference.
FAST – Identify a stroke FAST chart
Signs of a stroke include: weakness on one side of the body; numbness of the face; unusual and severe headache; vision loss; numbness and tingling; and unsteady walk.

*Culled from Harvard Special Health Report Stroke: Diagnosing, treating, and recovering from a “brain attack.”

Alcohol
Alcohol
This feature is part of CNN Parallels, an interactive series exploring ways you can improve your health by making small changes to your daily habits.
A lot of us drink. Too many of us drink a lot. Worldwide, each person 15 years and older consumes 13.5 grams of pure alcohol per day, according to the World Health Organization. Considering that nearly half of the world doesn’t drink at all, that leaves the other half drinking up their share.
While the majority of the world drinks liquor, Americans prefer beer. The Beverage Marketing Corp. tracks these things: In 2017, Americans guzzled about 27 gallons of beer (or 216 pints), 2.6 gallons of wine and 2.2 gallons of spirits per drinking-age adult. But Americans are lightweights in any worldwide drinking game, based on numbers from the World Health Organization. The Eastern European countries of Lithuania, Belarus, Czechia (the Czech Republic), Croatia and Bulgaria drink us under the table.
In fact, measuring liters drunk by anyone over 15, the US ranks 36th in the category of most sloshed nation; Austria comes in sixth; France is ninth (more wine) and Ireland 15th (yes, they drink more beer), while the UK ranks 18th.
Who drinks the least in the world? The Arab nations of the Middle East.
With all this boozing going on, just what damage does alcohol do to your health? Let’s explore what science says are the downsides of having a tipple or two.
Counting calories
Even if you aren’t watching your waistline, you might be shocked at the number of empty calories you can easily consume during happy hour.
Calories are typically defined by a “standard” drink. In the US, that’s about 0.6 fluid ounces or 14 grams of pure alcohol, which differs depending on the type of adult beverage you consume.
For example, a standard drink of beer is one 12-ounce can (355 milliliters). For malt liquor, it’s 8 to 9 fluid ounces (251 milliliters). A standard drink of red or white wine is about 5 fluid ounces (148 milliliters).
What’s considered a standard drink continues to go down as the alcohol content goes up. But what if that changes? Let’s use beer as an example.
It used to be that light beer came in around 100 calories while regular beer averaged 153 calories per 12-fluid ounce can or bottle — that’s the same as two or three Oreo cookies.
But beer calories depend on both alcohol content and carbohydrate level. So if you’re a fan of today’s popular craft beers, which often have extra carbs and higher alcohol content, you could easily face a calorie land mine in every can. Let’s say you chose a highly ranked IPA, such as Sierra Nevada Bigfoot (9.6% alcohol) or Narwhal (10.2% alcohol), and you’ve downed a whopping 318 to 344 calories, about as much as a McDonald’s cheeseburger. Did you drink just one?
If you pour correctly, white wine is about 120 calories per 5 fluid ounces, and red is 125. If you fill your glass to the brim, that might easily double.
Liquor? Gin, rum, vodka, tequila and whiskey cost you 97 calories per 1.5 fluid ounces, but that’s without mixers. An average margarita will cost you 168 calories while a pina colada weighs in at a whopping 490 calories, about the same as a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder.
A 2013 study in the US found that calorie intake went up on drinking days compared with non-drinking days, mostly due to alcohol: Men took in 433 extra calories, while women added 299 calories.
But alcohol can also affect our self-control, which can lead to overeating. A 1999 study found that people ate more when they had an aperitif before dinner than if they abstained.
Take heart. If you’re a light to moderate drinker, meaning you stick to US guidelines of one “standard” drink a day for women and two for men, studies have shown that you aren’t guaranteed to gain weight over time — especially if you live an overall healthy lifestyle.
For example, a 2002 study of almost 25,000 Finnish men and women over five-year intervals found that moderate alcohol consumption, combined with a physically active lifestyle, no smoking and healthy food choices, “maximizes the chances of having a normal weight.”
However, it appears that heavy drinking and binge drinking could be linked to obesity. And that’s a problem. The numbers of binge drinkers — defined as five or more drinks for men and four or more drinks for women within a couple of hours at least once a month — has been rising in the United States.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says one in six adults binge about four times a month, downing about eight drinks in each binge.
In the UK, where binge drinking is defined as “drinking lots of alcohol in a short space of time or drinking to get drunk,” a 2016 national survey found 2.5 million people admitted to binge drinking in the last week.
Alcohol, of course, has no nutritional value and contains 7 calories per gram — more than protein and even carbs, which both have 4 calories. Fat has 9 calories per gram.
All those empty alcohol calories have to end up somewhere.
Heart disease and cancer
The prevailing wisdom for years has been that drinking in moderation — again, that’s one “standard” drink a day for women and two for men — is linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. But recent studies are casting doubt on that long-held lore. Science now says it depends on your age and drinking habits.
A 2017 study of nearly 2 million Brits with no cardiovascular risk found that there was still a modest benefit in moderate drinking, especially for women over 55 who drank five drinks a week. Why that age? Alcohol can alter cholesterol and clotting in the blood in positive ways, experts say, and that’s about the age when heart problems begin to occur.
For everyone else, the small protective effect on the heart was evident only if the drinks were spaced out during the week. Consuming heavily in one session, or binge drinking, has been linked to heart attacks — or what the English call “holiday heart.”
Also, a 2018 study found that drinking more than 100 grams of alcohol per week — equal to roughly seven standard drinks in the United States or five to six glasses of wine in the UK — increases your risk of death from all causes and in turn lowers your life expectancy. Links were found with different forms of cardiovascular disease, with people who drank more than 100 grams per week having a higher risk of stroke, heart failure, fatal hypertensive disease and fatal aortic aneurysm, where an artery or vein swells up and could burst.
In contrast, the 2018 study found that higher levels of alcohol were also linked to a lower risk of heart attack, or myocardial infarction.
Overall, however, the latest thinking is that any heart benefit may be outweighed by other health risks, such as high blood pressure, pancreatitis, certain cancers and liver damage.
Women who drink are at a higher risk for breast cancer; alcohol contributes about 6% of the overall risk, possibly because it raises certain dangerous hormones in the blood. Drinking can also increase the chance you might develop bowel, liver, mouth and oral cancers.
One potential reason: Alcohol weakens our immune systems, making us more susceptible to inflammation, a driving force behind cancer, as well as infections and the integrity of the microbiome in our digestive tract. That’s true not only for chronic drinkers but for those who binge, as well.
Diabetes
The connection between alcohol and diabetes is complicated. Studies show that drinking moderately over three or four days a week may actually lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. However, drinking heavily increases the risk. Too much alcohol inflames the pancreas, which is responsible for secreting insulin to regulate your body’s blood sugars.
If you have diabetes, alcohol may interact with various medications. If you take insulin or any pills that stimulate the release of insulin, alcohol can lead to hypoglycemia, a dangerously low blood sugar level, because alcohol stimulates the release of insulin as well. That’s why experts recommend never drinking on an empty stomach. Instead, drink with a meal or at least some carbs.
And, of course, because alcohol is made by fermenting sugar and starch, it’s full of empty calories, which contributes to obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Mood and memory
Because alcohol is a depressant, drinking can drown your mood. It may not seem that way while you “party” your inhibitions away, but that’s just the drink depressing the part of the brain we use to control our actions. The more you drink, say experts, the more your negative emotions, such as anxiety, anger and depression, can take over.
That’s why binge drinking or drinking a lot in one sitting is associated with higher levels of depression, self-harm, suicide and violent offending.
Binge drinking is also associated with severe “blackouts”: the inability to remember what happened while drunk. Blackouts can range from small memory blips, such as forgetting a name, to more serious incidents, such as forgetting an entire evening.
Alcohol does this by decreasing the electrical activity of the neurons in your hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for the formation of short-term memories. Keep up that binge drinking, and you can permanently damage the hippocampus and develop sustained memory or cognitive problems.
Adolescents are most susceptible to alcohol’s memory disruption but less sensitive to the intoxicating effects. That means they can easily drink more to feel as “drunk” as an adult would, causing even more damage to their brains.
How you look
Last but certainly not least, alcohol can have a significant effect on your good looks. First, it dehydrates you. That can leave your skin looking parched and wrinkled. It’s also linked to rosacea, a skin condition causing redness, pimples and swelling on your face.
Do you know you can stink while you’re drinking? During the time your liver is processing a single drink, which is on average an hour but varies for everyone, some of it leaves your body via your breath, urine and sweat.
Another reason drinking can affect your looks has to do with sleep. Although even a little bit of alcohol can help you fall asleep quickly, as the alcohol is metabolized and leaves the body you may suffer the “rebound effect.” Instead of staying asleep, the body enters lighter sleep and wakefulness, which appears to get worse the more one drinks.
A lack of sleep leads to dark circles, puffy eyes and stress. Keep it up, studies say, and you’re likely to see more signs of aging and a much lower satisfaction with your appearance.
So the next time you head to the pub for tipple or two, remember: You could be paying a price for all that fun.
By Sandee LaMotte | CNN
CNN’s Mark Lieber contributed to this report.

heart-with-headphones
heart-with-headphones
“Music can pierce the heart directly; it needs no mediation,” wrote scientist Oliver Sacks. Medical research lends credibility to his observation, as classical music is known to lower heart rate and blood pressure. However, a new study shows that a little “mediation” from antihypertensive drugs goes a long way in helping the heart to find its natural, healthy rhythm.

Combining the soothing power of music with the beneficial effects of antihypertensive drugs seems to create a beautiful synergy that lowers the heart rate and blood pressure of people with hypertension.

This is the main result of a new study carried out by an international team of researchers. Their results are now published in the journal Scientific Reports.

“The inexpressible depth of music,” as Sacks called it in his book Musicophilia, has been shown before to have healing effects on the heart. Studies have suggested that music can lower the blood pressure, reduce the heart rate, and ease the distress of people living with heart conditions.

The comforting effects of music do not stop here. Music therapy was shown to help the heart to contract and push blood throughout the body, classical and rock music makes your arteries more supple, and listening to music during surgery helps to lower the heart rate to a more calming pace.

Given all of these intriguingly positive effects of music on the heart, could it be that music can also boost the positive effects of blood pressure medication?

This question puzzled the researchers — who were led by Vitor Engrácia Valenti, a professor in the Speech Language Pathology Department at the São Paulo State University in Brazil. So, they set out to investigate.

Adele and Enya boost hypertension drugs

Prof. Valenti and his colleagues investigated the effects of instrumental music on the heart rate and blood pressure of people with “well-controlled hypertension.” These were 37 participants who had been taking antihypertensive medication for a minimum of 6 months and a maximum of 1 year.

After taking their usual blood pressure medication, the participants listened to music for 60 minutes using earphones. The next day, they took their medication as usual, but they sat in silence with the earphones turned off for the same amount of time.

The songs that they listened to included instrumental piano versions of Adele’s “Someone Like You” and “Hello,” as well as an instrumental version of “Amazing Grace” by Chris Tomlin and “Watermark” by Enya.

The team took heart rate variability measurements at 20, 40, and 60 minutes after the participants took the blood pressure medication.

The heart rates of the music-listening participants dropped significantly 60 minutes after taking blood pressure medication, whereas when they did not listen to music, the heart rates did not slow down at all.

The effects of medication on blood pressure were also “more intense” when the participants were subjected to instrumental music.

We found that the effect of antihypertension medication on heart rate was enhanced by listening to music.”

Vitor Engrácia Valenti

The scientists speculate on the potential mechanisms that might explain the results. Referring to some of their previous research, they say, “We’ve observed classical music activating the parasympathetic nervous system and reducing sympathetic activity.”

The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for speeding up the heart rate and increasing the blood pressure, whereas the parasympathetic one does the opposite.

So, in addition to triggering the parasympathetic nervous system, the researchers hypothesize that music also stimulates gastrointestinal activity, which, in turn, might facilitate and speed up the absorption of blood pressure drugs.

Allergy remedies
Allergy remedies
Allergies are a common cause of illness and can occur at any stage in someone’s life. Numerous different things cause allergies from pollen to food to medication, meaning it is not always easy to know the best treatments or home remedies.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 50 million Americans experience an allergic reaction each year, and the best treatment will depend on the cause and severity of the reaction.

In this article, we take a close look at a range of treatments for allergic reactions, depending on a person’s symptoms and their severity, including anaphylaxis.

Fast facts on treating an allergic reaction:

  • Most minor allergy symptoms can be treated with antihistamines, corticosteroids, or decongestants.
  • Saline nasal rinses can be used for congestion-related allergy symptoms.
  • Corticosteroid creams can treat skin rashes related to allergies.
  • Immunotherapy is a long-term treatment option for chronic allergy symptoms.
  • Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency, and people should call 911 if they suspect someone is having an anaphylactic reaction.

What is an allergic reaction?

The immune system overreacts to these allergens and produces histamine, which is a chemical that causes allergy symptoms, such as inflammation, sneezing, and coughing.

Mild allergic reactions can usually be treated with home remedies and over-the-counter (OTC) medications.

However, chronic allergies need treatment from a medical professional. Severe allergic reactions always require emergency medical care.

Treating allergic reactions

Many mild to moderate allergic reactions can be treated at home or with OTC medications. The following treatments are commonly used to reduce the symptoms of an allergic reaction:

Antihistamines

Antihistamines can help to treat most minor allergic reactions regardless of the cause. These drugs reduce the body’s production of histamine, which reduces all symptoms, including sneezing, watering eyes, and skin reactions.

Second-generation antihistamines, including Claritin (loratadine) and Zyrtec (cetirizine), are less likely to cause drowsiness than first-generation antihistamines, such as Benadryl.

Antihistamines come in several forms, usually to help deliver the medication closer to the source of the reaction or make it easier to consume, such as:

  • oral pills
  • dissolvable tablets
  • nasal sprays
  • liquids
  • eye drops

Antihistamines in these forms are available from pharmacies, to buy online, or on prescription from a doctor.

Antihistamines can also be taken to prevent allergies. Many people with seasonal or pet allergies will begin taking antihistamines when they know they are going to be exposed to an allergen.

A person who is pregnant or has a liver disorder should consult their doctor before taking antihistamines.

Nasal decongestants

Nasal decongestant pills, liquids, and sprays can also help reduce stuffy, swollen sinuses and related symptoms, such as a sore throat or coughing.

However, decongestant medications should not be taken continuously for more than 72 hours.

Nasal decongestants are available over the counter and online.

Anti-inflammatory medication

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) may also be used to help temporarily reduce pain, swelling, and cramping caused by allergies.

Avoid the allergen

The best way to treat and prevent allergic reactions is to know what triggers the reaction and stay away from it, especially food allergens.

When this is not possible or realistic, using antihistamines or decongestants when in contact with allergens can help to treat the symptoms.

Use a saline sinus rinse

The AAAAI recommend the following saline recipe:

  • mix 3 teaspoons of salt (without iodide) with 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • add 1 teaspoon of this mixture to 8 ounces of boiled water
  • dissolve the mixture in the water then use as a saline rinse

Sinus rinsing devices can be purchased online or from a pharmacy.

Treating environmental allergies

For airborne allergens, such as pollen, dust, and mold spores, additional treatment options include:

  • throat lozenges with soothing ingredients, such as menthol, honey, or ginger
  • shower and wash all clothing after being exposed to an allergen
  • exercise for a few minutes to help reduce nasal congestion

Treating allergies on the skin

For allergic reactions that cause skin symptoms, including those associated with allergens found in animal saliva, poisonous plants, drugs, chemicals and metals, additional treatment options include:

  • Topical corticosteroid creams or tablets. Corticosteroids contain steroids that reduce inflammation and itching. Mild forms of these creams can be found online, and a doctor can prescribe stronger versions.
  • Moisturizing creams. Emollient creams with soothing ingredients, such as calamine can treat skin reactions.
  • Bite or sting medication. Medication targeted to reduce allergic reactions to insect bites or stings have a similar effect to other allergy medications.
  • Ice pack. Applying an ice pack wrapped in cloth to the area for 10- to 15-minute intervals can reduce inflammation.

Treating severe allergies

People should speak to a professional if they have or suspect that they have severe or chronic allergies.

A doctor or allergy specialist can prescribe medications that contain much stronger doses of the compounds found in OTC products.

Treatment options for chronic or severe allergies include:

  • Immunotherapy, or allergy shots. Immunotherapy can be between 90 and 98 percent effective at reducing allergic reactions to insect stings, for instance.
  • Prescription asthma medications, such as bronchodilators and inhaled corticosteroids.
  • Oral cromolyn can be taken for food allergies.
  • Drug desensitization therapy is used for specific allergens.

Natural remedies for allergic reactions

Many traditional medicine systems use herbal supplements and extracts to both treat and prevent allergic reactions, especially seasonal allergies.

Though there is little scientific evidence to support the use of most alternative or natural remedies, some people may find that some can provide relief from their symptoms.

The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians recommend the following natural treatments for allergies:

  • Dietary changes. A low-fat diet high in complex carbohydrates, such as beans, whole grains, and vegetables may reduce allergy reactions.
  • Bioflavonoids. These plant-based chemicals found in citrus fruits and blackcurrants may act as natural antihistamines. These can also be taken as supplements.
  • Supplements. Flaxseed oil, zinc, and vitamins A, C, and E are suggested to improve allergy symptoms.
  • Acupuncture. Acupuncture treatments may help some people to find relief from their symptoms.

Identifying and treating anaphylaxis

A very severe allergic reaction can lead to a condition called anaphylaxis, or anaphylactic shock.

Anaphylaxis occurs when the body’s immune response to an allergen is so severe and sudden that the body goes into a state of shock.

Anaphylaxis can impact multiple organs and if left untreated lead to coma, organ failure, and death.

The early symptoms of anaphylaxis can be fairly mild and similar to those of minor to moderate allergic reactions, but they often rapidly worsen.

Symptoms unique to anaphylaxis include:

  • unexplained anxiety
  • tingling in the palms of the hand, soles of the feet, and lips
  • swollen tongue, throat, mouth, and face
  • difficulty breathing
  • rapid but weak pulse
  • low blood pressure
  • sense of dread or doom
  • vomiting or diarrhea
  • confusion or disorientation
  • loss of consciousness
  • very pale or blue skin
  • a heart attack

Anyone who suspects anaphylaxis should call 911 and seek emergency medical care.

If the person carries an EpiPen, which is a self-injectable dose of epinephrine that is designed to treat anaphylaxis, inject this into their thigh, as soon as possible.

First aid for anaphylaxis includes:

  • try to keep the person calm
  • the person may vomit, so turn them on their side and keep their mouth clear
  • try to get the person to lay flat on their back with their feet raised about a foot above the ground
  • make sure the person’s clothing is loose or remove constricting clothing
  • do not give them anything to drink or eat, even if they ask for it
  • if they are not breathing, practice CPR with around 100 firm chest compressions every minute until emergency services arrive

If a person does not have an EpiPen, a doctor or paramedic will give an injection of the hormone epinephrine, or adrenaline. This will immediately increase the output of the heart and blood flow throughout the body.

A person should seek medical care each time anaphylaxis occurs. Even if they start to feel better or their symptoms go away, a second severe allergic reaction can occur up to 12 hours after the initial response.

Allergy symptoms

The symptoms associated with an allergic response depend on the specific allergen, how severe the allergy is, and whether a person has touched, swallowed, or inhaled the allergen.

Not everyone responds the same way to each allergen. But there are similar sets of symptoms most people experience when exposed to specific allergens.

Common symptoms associated with different type of allergens include:

Airborne allergens Animal saliva Insect stings/bites Food allergens Drug allergens Metal/ chemical allergens
Sneezing/ itchy nose Y Y
Runny/stuffy nose Y Y
Coughing Y Y
Skin rash/itchy skin Y Y Y Y Y
Wheezing/ shortness of breath Y Y
Hives/welts Y Y Y Y
Pain, redness and swelling at the exposure point Y Y Y Y
Peeling /blistering skin Y Y
Watery, itchy, red eyes Y Y
Sore throat
Vomiting, nausea, or diarrhea Y
Swelling of the throat, tongue, and mouth Y Y Y
Dizziness Y Y Y
Sun sensitivity Y
Itchy mouth/odd taste in the mouth Y Y
Pale skin Y Y
Swelling of the eyes, face, and genitals Y
Chronic joint or muscle pain Y Y

Outlook

Many people experience allergic reactions when they are exposed to specific allergens, ranging from pet dander and pollen to compounds in foods, drinks, and personal hygiene products.

The best way to treat an allergic reaction depends on the cause, though most minor cases can be treated with OTC antihistamine and anti-itch products.

A person should seek immediate medical attention for chronic or severe allergic reactions, especially those that involve swelling of the throat or changes in heart rate. Anaphylaxis should always be treated as a medical emergency.

Most people don’t give blood circulation much thought. Even when they have common symptoms of poor blood circulation like numbness in the legs and hands, cold hands and feet, fatigue and swollen feet or fingers.

Ignoring these symptoms can lead to more serious problems like cardiovascular disease and stroke. Luckily, there are things you can start doing today to improve circulation. But making these changes may not help much if you don’t avoid habits that cause poor blood circulation. These habits include Heavy alcohol drinking, tobacco smoking, poor diet, inactivity, high caffeine intake.

Get a good massage

Massage creates pressure which forces blood in congested areas to flow. This pressure also allows easy flow of new blood to different body parts. Get a good massage several times a week if you experience the symptoms of poor blood circulation I mentioned above.

Add herbs into your diet

Some herbs are good for blood circulation. They strengthen the blood vessels and help unclog the arteries.

Research shows that gingko biloba and cayenne pepper improve circulation. Cayenne pepper strengthens the blood vessels and stimulates the heart while gingko Biloba improves blood flow which consequently improves memory.

Other helpful herbs include garlic, ginger, bilberry and parsley.

Keep your legs elevated

It’s hard for blood to flow from the feet to the heart since it has to flow uphill. In fact, this is the main reason poor blood circulation largely affects the legs. Elevating your legs will make it easier for blood to flow. Lift the legs above heart level and keep them elevated for 20 minutes.

Exercise every day

There’s a lot of research showing that exercise improves blood circulation. Even simple exercises like walking, climbing stairs can help. You may want to start with low intensity exercises if you’re out of shape and then increase intensity as you get fitter.

Reduce salt intake

Research shows that high salt intake can cause poor blood circulation. This is alarming because most people consume an average of 3.4 grammes of salt a day. That’s higher than the recommended 2.3 grammes per day.

Avoiding canned food and reading food labels can help reduce sodium in your diet.

Don’t wear tight clothes for long

Those skinny jeans can cut off blood circulation to the legs, research shows. In fact, one woman had to be hospitalised for four days because of squatting while wearing skinny jeans. On the other hand, clothes like the compression socks are said to improve blood circulation in the legs.

Drink more water

I don’t think you need any convincing that water is good for your health. Aim for two litres of water a day.

Here are tips that can help you drink more water.

Add nuts into your diet

Nuts contain vitamins and minerals that can improve blood circulation. According to this study, raw almonds and walnuts boost blood circulation. Nuts are also a great source of healthy fats. But eat them in moderation if you want to lose weight.

The heart can be considered to be the engine that keeps the blood moving through all the veins in the human body. In order for heart muscles to pump legitimately, it should be sustained by different coronary veins. Any malady or blockage of the veins can deny the heart muscle with the fundamental oxygen and blood it needs for operating in a full and legitimate capacity.

A heart attack that is medicinally reputed to be extremely difficult for the body, is the unhindered localized death of a zone of the heart muscles created by the obstruction of a coronary vessel. This hindrance of blood moving through one of the extensions of the coronary course is regularly brought about by a burst of a medical condition called the atherosclerotic plaque. Bloodstream may be so extremely contracted, or completely blocked that a segment of the heart muscles ceases to exist. Although it is difficult, there do exist some treatments for heart failure.

What Is heart failure?

The most average side effect of a heart attack is torment or pain in the midsection which is known as angina pectoris that may transmit to the left arm, neck, and jaw. Different side effects might incorporate the shortness of breath, dizziness, high temperature in the midsection, or lack of awareness. Heart failure happens due to insufficient blood flow for a long time to a certain portion of heart due to which the muscles of that part get damaged or dies. This situation is known as myocardial infarction in medical terminology. There are many treatments which are famous for heart failure aiming to improve its functioning and relieving the patient from frequent and severe heart failure. Some of the surgeries for heart failure are listed below.

Bypass surgery: This is one of the most used and known surgical treatment for heart and used in case where the artery is blocked and it must be cleared for the smooth flow of blood to the heart.

Left ventricular assist device: This surgery helps your heart to provide the blood throughout the body as per its natural smooth flow.

Heart valve surgery: In case where the valves of the heart are damaged, this treatment makes the valves in previous situations as naturally they should be and help the blood flow to run smoothly. In case of heart failure due to valve problems, blood flow may get disrupted which is taken care in this surgery.

Enhanced External Counterpulsation Therapy: Basically this is a treatment for chronic heart pain which happens due to disturbed blood flow towards the heart. In this therapy, cuffs are fitted to the outer body which functions in accordance with the heart rhythm and makes the blood flow regularly.

Heart transplant: This surgery is opted in such situation where due to heart failure the damaged heart does not respond to any therapy or treatment at all and need to be replaced.

These are the most well-known treatments for heart failure across the world and are recommended and adopted by expert doctors as per the condition of the patients.

Can the contents of your kitchen seriously save your life? A growing body of research suggests that what you eat and drink can protect your body against myriad health woe. Studies have also shown that up to 70 percent of heart disease cases are preventable with the right food choices.

“What’s good for your heart is good for your brain and good for you in general,” says Arthur Agatston, MD, a renowned cardiologist and founder of the South Beach Diet.

There is just one little trick to turning your kitchen into a hub for heart health: Don’t stick to the same few foods. The secret is by varying the types of fish, vegetables, whole grains and other items you enjoy every day. With that in mind, we’ve compiled the world’s top foods for your heart—mix and match a handful of them every week to eat your way toward a healthier you.

Yams

This is a great source of Vitamin C, calcium and iron, which helps to reduce high blood pressure. Eat the skin, too, which is full of heart-healthy nutrients.

Wild salmon (not farmed)

Broiled, grilled or baked, this tasty, fleshy fish is replete with omega-3 fatty acids that improve the metabolic markers for heart disease. It also has a rich level of selenium, an antioxidant that studies have shown boosts cardiovascular protection. (Of course, not all salmon is created equal: Find out what the ‘Invasion of The Frankenfish’ means for your health.)

Sardines

These spiny little creatures are also loaded with omega-3s in the form of fish oil, which increases “good” cholesterol levels and reduces the risk of sudden heart attacks in people who have experienced previous attacks, according to the Mayo Clinic. Stick to fresh ones to avoid the canned variety’s high salt content.

Liver

Liver contains fats that are good for the heart, says William Davis, MD, a Wisconsin-based preventive cardiologist and author of ‘Wheat Belly’. “That’s the way humans are scripted,” he says. “Primitive humans ate the entire animal. Livers contain a lot of fats and that’s healthy.”

Oatmeal

The highly publicised benefits of eating your oatmeal have long shown it’s a wonder meal for reducing cholesterol. But eat only the plain, non-processed kind. Instant and flavoured oats are often drenched in processed sugar.

Coffee

Caffeine junkies rejoice. According to Dr Agatston, studies have shown that coffee is high in antioxidants and reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes. Up to three cups a day also increases cognition levels and helps decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, Agatston says. (That’s not the only thing a cup of java can do. We’ve got four more coffee cures that will convince you to drink up.)

Red wine

Back to the importance of resveratrol, a compound with antioxidant properties, which can also help prevent cancer. According to a recent study from the UK’s University of Leicester, resveratrol is found in dark-skinned berries and grapes. Madirans and Cabernets typically contain large amounts of procyanidins, an antioxidant that helps to reduce cholesterol and increases arterial health.

Healthy food means to eat clean and organic while keeping you away from the chemical and sugar rich foods. However, without even realizing their presence, our diet includes a major portion of artificial food content and high calories that claims to be significantly low. Such foods forms acids in the body and they are required to be eliminated as soon as possible. The foods creating inflammation disturb the hormonal balance in the body, congest the liver, and higher the blood sugar levels, as result, it nullify the efforts of restoring the good health.

Foods You Should Avoid While Losing Weight:-

Low Fat Ice Creams

Even when your ice creams are low on calories and loaded with the fruits, there are still lots of sugar content and harmful trans fat hidden inside the cup that makes you gain weight. Moreover, the artificial colours and flavours are nothing to do with your than worsening the situations. Instead, make your own ice cream at home with the natural fruit flavours less of harsh chemicals.

Thin Crust Veggies Loaded Pizza

People used to think that not all pizzas are bad for your health, however, even the thin crust slices are loaded with cheese that contains saturated fats and processed so heavily to make you gain those extra pounds easily. Go for homemade whole wheat crust, healthy sauce, superfoods pizza along with the right cheeses.

Zero Calories Drinks

All that fizz drinks claiming zero calories in the cans are the way to distract you from eating healthy. It is extremely acidic, hence; it takes more than 30 cups of water to neutralize the acidity of a single can. Such residues are hard on the body and make an evil impact on your kidneys.

French Fries

The trans fat and acrylamide present in the food cause inflammation in your body. It is also a greater cause of many other serious problems in the body including heart diseases, weight gain, cancer, etc. Try out finding how to cook them to maximize the nutrients and eliminate the formation of acrylamide.

Potato Chips

When the white potatoes are deeply fried it produces the highest level of toxic acrylamide which is the main reason of accumulation of the fat. As they are loaded with the healthy herbs, it doesn’t mean it will save some calories for you. Instead, try indulging in the crispy sweet potato chips and you will not miss the original chips for sure.

To be healthy, one must eat a wide variety of vitamin-rich foods. But with the growing number of people consuming fast food today, most would probably prefer it over homemade food which is a much better healthier choice. This daily consumption of fast food and junk food is so bad that it is putting the health of many people at risk. In order to prevent serious health problems and maintain a healthy lifestyle, you should consume foods that are rich in antioxidant vitamins and minerals.

Eating a variety of antioxidant vitamins and mineral enriched foods can contribute to improving your quality of health for many years to come.

Now, here is a list of some superfoods that can help you achieve better health:

1. Berries
All kinds of berries are rich in fiber that can help promote weight loss. Raspberries contain ellagic acid which has a compound that prevents cancer.

2. Avocado
Avocados provide Vitamins A, B, C, E and K that are several important antioxidants along with glutathione.

3. Beans
It is a source of iron that transports oxygen from the lungs to all the cells in your body.

4. Bananas
It is a highly alkalining nutritious superfood that contains the best sources of potassium which help in maintaining heart function and normal blood pressure.

5. Salmon
Superfoods are not only categorized as fruits and vegetables. This kind of fish contains Vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids. It is anti-inflammatory and can alleviate joint pain and reduce the risk of heart disease.

6. Broccoli
Broccoli is one of the healthiest leafy green vegetables which is rich in vitamins A, C and folic acid. It also has sulforaphane that is considered a cancer-fighting agent.

7. Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are high in alpha and beta carotenoids which are converted into an active usable form of Vitamin A by your body. These compounds can help keep your eyes, bones, and immune system healthy.

8. Cacao (Should be more than 60% Dark Chocolate) 
Cacao is high in essential minerals that most people do not get in their diet. It has magnesium which is used in more than 275 biochemical reactions in the body. Cacao also contains manganese, zinc and iron.

Try to consume at least three to four servings daily of a variety of superfoods (even more is better) for optimal health.

Achieving better health is not only about the foods you consume. You must also include proper exercise that can help you become physically fit.