The red blood cells in the blood are made in the bone marrow. The cells contain hemoglobin, a protein that carries oxygen from the lungs to various regions of the body. However, sometimes people may develop a condition called polycythemia vera that causes the bone marrow to create excessive red blood cells. The elevated RBC count thickens the blood, slowing down its flow. While the disease is rare, it may lead to health complications.
The exact cause of polycythemia vera is yet to be determined. However, the disease develops when there is a mutation in a gene that may trigger problems in blood cell production. The body usually regulates the quantity of each of the three types of blood cells—red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. However, when one develops polycythemia vera, the bone marrow produces an abnormally large number of these cells.
Many people with polycythemia vera do not have noticeable symptoms, mainly because the condition progresses gradually. Some vague symptoms caused by the disease are dizziness, fatigue, blurred vision, and headache. However, more specific symptoms include:
If one is diagnosed with polycythemia vera, the doctor will recommend treatments such as frequent blood withdrawals or prescription options to reduce the number of red blood cells. However, one may also follow these remedies at home to help them manage the symptoms:
Regular exercise: Moderate physical activity like walking may help improve blood flow in the body. One can also indulge in leg and ankle stretches and other exercises to improve blood circulation. Exercising may help reduce the risk of blood clots.
Avoiding low-oxygen environments: As polycythemia vera may lead to breathing difficulties, one should avoid high altitudes. Such places could reduce oxygen levels in the blood and make it even harder to breathe. Additionally, one should avoid activities like skiing or climbing mountains as these may hamper oxygen levels in the body.
Skincare: To curb symptoms like itching, one should bathe in cold water, use a gentle cleanser, and pat dry their skin after a shower or bath. They could also add starch, like cornstarch, to the bathwater to reduce the urge to itch. Avoiding heated whirlpools, hot showers, and hot tubs is also important to avoid worsening the symptoms.
Checking for persistent sores: Poor blood circulation could make it difficult for sores to heal easily, especially those on the hands and feet. So, one must look for such developments regularly and inform their healthcare experts if they notice sores.
Asthma is an autoimmune disease caused when there is an inflammation in the airways of the lungs. If statistics are to be believed, there are almost 25 million people in the country with asthma. Asthma patients are likely to be very sensitive to particular things. However, this varies from patient to patient. The following article lists causes, treatments, and preventive measures to manage asthma and help asthma patients live better lives.
Allergens are a common trigger of asthma. Common allergens present in the air that can cause asthma attacks to include dust mites on pillows or carpets, pollen from plants, molds or fungi in the air, pet hair, insect droppings, or rodents.
Second-hand smoke and polluted air can lead to severe coughing, wheezing, and even an asthma attack. This can be in the form of burning wood, strong fumes, vapors, odors from perfumes, fresh paint, gasoline, and scented soaps or candles.
Certain health conditions such as allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA), pregnancy hormones, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), obstructive sleep apnea, nasal polyps, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), sinusitis, and rhinitis can also cause asthma.
Changes in the weather are a common cause of asthma. Hence, it is recommended to avoid stepping outside during high pollen seasons like spring and fall.
Exercise is crucial for a healthy lifestyle. However, for asthma patients, aggressive forms of physical exercises can make them pant more, causing breathing difficulty. Asthma caused due to excessive exercise is called bronchoconstriction.
Treatment options for asthma
While there may be no direct cure, the following options can efficiently help manage asthma symptoms:
One of the most important modes of treating asthma is medication. Although, not everyone who suffers from asthma relies on the same types of medication. Medication is prescribed based on a number of factors like the age of the person, possible triggers, and factors that help them keep their breathing and asthma in check. Medication can be divided into two categories – long-term asthma control medication and quick-relief medication.
Long-term medication is taken daily. This helps keep the signs and symptoms of asthma in check and reduces the chances of an asthma attack due to potential triggers. Types of long-term asthma medication include inhaled corticosteroids, leukotriene modifiers, combination inhalers, and theophylline.
Quick-relief medication is the second most common type of asthma medication used to keep the symptoms of asthma at bay. These are normally used in situations of emergency and to tackle an already active asthma attack. They work quickly and provide short-term relief. They are used as per the doctor’s prescription. Some asthma patients use these medications before indulging in exercising or any activity that exerts their body. The types of quick-relief asthma medication include short-acting beta antagonists, anticholinergic agents, and oral and intravenous corticosteroids.
Allergy medication is another type of medication used to treat the signs and symptoms of an asthma attack. This only helps if the asthma attack is triggered due to allergic reactions. Types of allergic medication include allergy shots and biologics.
Take a steam bath
One of the effective home remedies for managing asthma is to take a steam bath. It is a simple way of getting relief from the symptoms of asthma. If not a steam bath, even steam inhalation can help. The steam opens up airways, providing relief from symptoms like wheezing and breathing difficulties.
Food plays a key role in managing asthma. Certain foods can trigger asthma symptoms. So, one needs to identify what triggers asthma symptoms and avoid such foods. One needs to eat balanced and nutritious meals with fruits and vegetables, as they help boost immunity. Including foods rich in vitamin C and D helps improve immunity.
Yoga involves postures and exercises that are beneficial. It requires the practice of breathing exercises like Pranayama. These exercises strengthen the diaphragm and lungs, which provide relief from the symptoms of asthma. When done regularly, it can be helpful for people with chronic asthma.
Use garlic and ginger
Garlic is anti-inflammatory in nature helpful in reducing inflammation, which is one of the aggravating factors in asthma. Also, eating a few pods of ginger can help manage asthma.
While coffee is not beneficial in most health conditions, it can help asthmatics, as it works as a bronchodilator and opens blocked airways. A cup of hot coffee can provide relief from asthma symptoms.
People who are overweight or obese are prone to suffer from severe asthma symptoms. This is because the tummy presses on the lungs, putting pressure on them. Losing weight can be helpful for asthma patients as it increases lung volume. Weight loss also provides relief from other diseases like hypertension and diabetes that can aggravate asthma.
Omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish and nuts can help increase lung strength and is also good for the heart. You can even take omega-3 supplements to help manage asthma.
Severe cases of asthma are treated with prescription medications like Fasenra® and Nucula. Fasenra® is one of the most effective asthma treatment options. It can be self-injected using an injection pen. Fasenra® improves breathing in asthma patients and lowers their oral steroid use. It can be used once every eight weeks. Mepolizumab or Nucala works to reduce the number of eosinophils in the blood, thereby reducing airway inflammation. Other clinical treatment medications include Singulair®, Zyflo®, and Ventolin® HFA.
Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) occurs when there is elevated pressure in the blood vessels leading from the heart to the lungs. It is a rare, critical disease that causes pulmonary arteries to become narrow and stiff. PAH can lead to heart enlargement and weakening, ultimately causing heart failure or other life-threatening consequences. You can manage the condition via remedies and food habits. Here are tips on what to eat and remedies usually prescribed for PAH.
Foods to have for pulmonary arterial hypertension
Garlic and bell pepper
Since PAH patients have weak hearts, eating excessive salt or sodium content can worsen the problem. Replace salt seasoning with garlic to add flavor to your dish. According to one study conducted on rats with PAH, the allicin compound found in garlic widens blood vessels and controls blood pressure. You can also try adding bell peppers, peppercorns, fresh herbs, or lemon juice to your meals. An average citizen consumes 2,400 mg of sodium per day. PAH patients should at least aim for less than 2,000 mg. If you consume a lot of pre-packaged foods, make sure to read the label for sodium content. There are a lot of hidden sources of sodium found in mouthwashes, toothpaste, certain chewable antacid tablets, and laxatives too. Avoid sauerkraut, pickles, pickled herring, ketchup, soy sauce, and Worcestershire sauce.
PAH patients need to have a balance of iron and vitamin K. Many dark green vegetables are great sources of iron; however, they also contain a high amount of vitamin K. Foods that have low vitamin K are broccoli, asparagus, avocado, and tuna. If you take blood-thinning supplements, inconsistent levels of vitamin K can adversely affect you. To determine it, ask your doctor or PAH specialist how much vitamin K you need in a day. They may recommend limiting certain foods as a part of your treatment process.
Tomatoes and oranges
Altering your meal plan to consume more iron is great but, to improve its impact, PAH patients must also include foods rich in vitamin C like tomatoes and oranges. Other foods under this category include broccoli, kiwi, pineapple, red and yellow bell peppers, spinach, potatoes, and Brussels sprouts. You can add a few slices of mango or papaya to your breakfast palate to maintain your vitamin C levels. Even vitamin D found in fatty fish like salmon, milk, and breakfast cereals improves the symptoms of PAH. If you think that you are not getting enough iron, vitamin C, or D from your food, speak to your healthcare provider or PAH specialist.
Foods like lean red meat, legumes, quinoa, shellfish, spinach, and kale are rich in iron and help in increasing the amount of oxygen that reaches the lungs. These iron-rich sources increase the number of red blood cells, thereby regulating the oxygen supply to the lungs. Individuals diagnosed with PAH typically have low iron in their bodies. According to research, iron deficiency triggers or aggravates the severity of this condition. Hence consuming iron-rich foods is important to manage PAH. Other foods rich in iron include tofu, figs, dates, raisins, prunes, eggs, tree nuts, and edible seeds.
Healthy foods like beans, low-fat dairy, colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and nuts prevent further heart damage. Avoid packaged or processed foods that can make PAH worse. Include anti-inflammatory foods like blueberries, olive oil, and salmon in your meals. These contain lycopene, antioxidants, and flavonoids that increase the functionality of the blood vessels and improve blood flow.
Limiting water intake can decrease or prevent swelling and fluid buildup. Most patients with PAH are kept on a two-liter (8.6 cups) restriction, but every case is different, so ask your doctor what amount is appropriate for you. Measure the amount of water or fluid you consume daily. Also, count the water your take with tablets. Soups and popsicles are also taken into account since they are all fluids. One of the first signs of fluid buildup is weight gain, so you need to keep a track of it regularly. If you gain 3-5 pounds in a day consult your doctor immediately. An easy way to keep track of water or sodium intake is by maintaining a food journal.
Altering your food regime alone may not be enough to manage PAH. Your doctor may one of the following remedies to slow the progression of the disease.
Other options to help treat pulmonary arterial hypertension
Adempas assists in improving blood pressure in the lungs by helping the heart pump more blood. It is used to treat chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension (CTEPH) in people who cannot be treated with surgery or have a recurrent or or persistent condition. Riociguat may treat certain symptoms of CTEPH and also improve athletic performance. Also used to treat PAH, it is available to women only under a special program. They must register with the program to get access to Adempas. It is crucial to follow your doctor’s instructions for dosage information.
Like Adempas, this remedy also controls the blood pressure in the lungs to improve the heart’s pumping. It is used to treat PAH in adults and children who are 3 years or older. PAH patients need to enroll in a special program from a certified pharmacy to understand the risks and benefits associated with Bosentan. It is not for pregnant women. Bosentan is known to decrease sperm count and affect fertility. It can also cause severe liver problems. Your doctor may test your liver before and after taking Bosentan.
Macitentan belongs to a class of medications called endothelin receptor antagonists that work by stopping endothelin’s action, a natural substance that causes blood vessels to narrow in PAH patients. It is available at retail pharmacies. Like the above two remedies, you have to register under a special program. Your doctor will explain the risks and the patient must sign an informed consent sheet stating that they understand the information explained. Macitentan will then be mailed to them from a specialty pharmacy that is registered under the program.
Melanoma is one of the most aggressive cancers. It is considered such due to the rapidity with which it metastasizes if not treated in an early stage. However, it is difficult to detect since it rarely shows symptoms, and more than 70% of melanoma cases were detected in normal-looking skin. The following article lists some foods to eat and avoid for melanoma and other types of cancer, along with medication for melanoma.
Foods to Have for Those Suffering from Melanoma and Other Cancers
Plant-based Foods – Sweet Potatoes and Barley
Cooked vegetables are easier to digest than raw ones. Therefore, one should eat plant-based foods such as oats, barley, bananas, turnips, sweet potatoes, and pears.
Cruciferous Vegetables – Cauliflower and Broccoli
Cruciferous vegetables like Brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and bok choy, among others, may affect the progression of cancers like melanoma. Cancer cells damage normal cells and DNA for mutation. Cruciferous vegetables protect these normal cells and DNA from damage from malignant cells. Moreover, these vegetables also protect the cells from damage occurred due to cancer treatments like radiation, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy.
Fruits – Strawberries and Raspberries
The presence of free radicals is one of the risk factors that increases the risk of an individual suffering from melanoma and other forms of cancers. Berries, such as strawberries, mulberries, raspberry, and blueberries, are a great source of anthocyanosises, which kills these free radicals and causes apoptosis (cell death) in cancer cells, thereby inhibiting the proliferation of cancer cells.
Lean Meats – Sirloin and Round Cuts
Instead of opting for highly-processed meats, it is advisable to choose lean meat options. This decreases the pressure on the pancreas to digest saturated fats. One should also cut down on red meat or go for lamb or lean cuts such as sirloin or eye of round roast and steak. Lean protein options include eggs, fish, tofu, and nut butters. These enhance the digestive system and are beneficial for cell and tissue repair.
Fluids – Green Tea and Fresh Fruit Juices
Lack of necessary fluids in the body can result in fatigue and dizziness. Hence, one should consume at least 6-12 cups of fluids a day. Taking small sips instead of large quantities can prevent the feeling of fullness. It is important to drink liquids an hour prior to or an hour after a meal instead of immediately before or after. One can also consume healthy protein and nutritional juices, such as smoothies, green tea, or fruit juices that contain little or no sugar. An individual with pancreatic cancer must completely avoid alcoholic beverages.
High-fiber Foods – Beans and Lentils
This category of foods is much easier on the pancreas, draws water from intestines, and digests easily, helping those with melanoma retain the food. They also contain folate and vitamin B that reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer and eliminate diarrhea. Foods that fall under this category are lentils, quinoa, brown rice, applesauce, and beans. These contain easy carbohydrates and fiber, which prevent high blood sugar levels and provide extra energy to the body.
Healthy Fats – Nut Seeds and Olive Oil
Individuals diagnosed with pancreatic cancer should avoid fatty, greasy, and fried foods. However, certain healthy fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats) derived from sources such as olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, nut seeds, and avocados are necessary. They help in maintaining overall body temperature and supply the body with energy.
Foods to Avoid for Those Suffering from Melanoma and Other Cancers
Processed and Refined Sugar
It is one of the leading triggers of cancer. It is believed that malignant or cancer cells often rely on glucose present in sugar for their prolific growth. Several oncologists and dieticians suggest switching to a low-sugar meal plan, thereby starving the cancer cell. This process of starving the cancer cells is called the Warburg Effect. Steer clear from foods such as sugary drinks, candy, cakes, cookies, and desserts as they have a high amount of refined sugar that can increase the risk of cancers like melanoma.
Processed Foods – Burgers and Fizzy Drinks
Processed foods, including fast foods, frozen foods, ice creams, sugary drinks, processed meats, and other ready-to-cook meals, are loaded with preservatives like parabens, tartrazine, nitrates, and nitrites that can worsen cancer symptoms, including those of melanoma. Apart from this, foods such as cakes and salad dressings that are made using vegetable oil may also facilitate tumor growth. This is because they are high in benzoate. Thus, they must be avoided by individuals suffering from melanoma as they might aggravate the symptoms of the condition.
Palm oil is a type of hydrogenated oil that is used to increase the shelf life of processed foods. It is also used for cooking in some parts of the world. Hydrogenated oils contain trans-fat and linoleic acid, which can accelerate the growth of tumors, thereby increasing the risk of worsening overall health as well as cancer symptoms. Hence, it is recommended to use safer alternatives and switch to food options and oils that are trans-fat-free.
Medications for Melanoma
While lifestyle changes such as eating and avoiding certain foods can decrease the risk of melanoma, its spread can only be controlled through proper treatment. The treatment can be in the form of radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy. Chemotherapy and immunotherapy use medications that are administered through IV or given in the form of tablets. One such medication is Opdivo®.
Nivolumab or Opdivo® is a type of immunotherapy medication that is used for treating those cases of melanoma, which cannot be treated through surgery. It can be used in combination with ipilimumab or Yervoy® to stop the metastatic spread. Opdivo® is administered intravenously. Its dosage depends upon the severity of metastasis of melanoma. If you or a loved one are looking to buy this medication, then there are several websites offering Opdivo® for melanoma through Rx saving coupons. Websites such as Goodrx list coupons, which can be used to buy Opdivo® at discounted prices.
Cancer triggers an abnormal growth or mutation of cells in the body. These cells can potentially destroy healthy tissue in the vicinity and travel to distant organs, using the lymph nodes after metastasis. A genetic mutation is the main cause of this condition, and, sadly, there is no cure. The condition can at best be managed to improve quality of life by making healthy changes in food and lifestyle and exploring medications/treatments.
Foods that help reduce the risk
Meats are a good source of protein, especially leaner low-fat cuts. However, most types of meat are preserved by curing them in salt and spices or smoking and even packing the meat into cans. This prolongs the shelf life of meats like beef jerky, ham, corned beef, sausage, salami, and even hot dogs and increases the risk of carcinogens in the food. Cured and processed meat is linked to colorectal cancer. Red meats, like beef, pork, lamb, and veal, that are not cured increase the risk of cancer due to the number of additives and nitrates present in the raw cuts.
Salty, fried, and processed foods
The body needs to maintain a perfect sodium balance to promote the healthy function of vital organs. Any spikes due to excess consumption of salt may trigger unnatural responses that increase the risk of certain types of cancer. For example, salting is a popular method of preservation that is also used for curing different types of fish. However, this process may trigger a release of carcinogens by-products that increase the risk of cancer. The same goes for processed, fried, and baked foods that have excess salt. These foods also contain saturated fats, trans fats, preservatives, and additives to increase the product’s shelf life. Daily consumption of these foods can have an adverse effect on overall health.
Cooking methods can also have an adverse impact on the produce we eat. Using high heat or overcooking with techniques like grilling, barbequing, or pan-frying can release a host of carcinogens found in different cuts of meat. Cooking on the open flame triggers the release of PAH and HCA compounds that are known to alter the DNA of healthy cells. Even starchy vegetables that go with these meats release acrylamides. A high concentration of these compounds can result in nerve damage, increasing the risk of neurological disorders.
Foods rich in sugar
The consumption of sugar in excess increases the risk of other health complications like diabetes and triggers weight gain. These unhealthy changes result in oxidative stress and cause inflammation, thereby increasing the risk of certain types of cancer. In addition, sugar-based cereals, baked goods, and confectionaries trigger certain metabolic changes in the body that affect the immune response.
Foods made with refined carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are essentially fuel for the body. The digestive system breaks down carbs consumed from foods and beverages to release the necessary energy for all bodily systems. However, not all carbs are good for health. Refined carbohydrates, often referred to as simple carbs, can trigger an imbalance in blood sugar levels. Foods like white rice, pasta, white bread, and other consumables made out of refined grains increase the risk of colorectal cancer upon regular consumption.
Alcohol and sugary beverages
Consuming alcohol can increase the risk of cancer of the mouth, esophagus, throat, breast, stomach, liver, and bowel. When the liver breaks down the alcohol consumed, the process releases a carcinogenic compound into the body. Studies show that this compound harms the immune system function, promotes DNA damage, and results in oxidative stress, causing cell damage. Alcohol consumption also triggers an abnormal increase in estrogen levels among women, thus increasing the risk of breast cancer. Sweetened beverages are also rich in sugar and preservatives that trigger unhealthy weight gain and affect metabolic activities adversely.
Some of the following medications are suggested for ongoing cancer treatments, while others may be prescribed for prevention or recovery. Dosage will vary depending on the protocols established for different types of cancer treatment.
Neulasta® OnPro is one of the prescription medications that is suggested during chemotherapy. The dosage is designed to reduce the risk of infections among adults, especially those with low immunity due to the lack of white blood cell boosters. The next day pill can be taken at home as instructed by the doctor.
Marketed under the brand name IMBRUVICA®, this oral pill is a Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK) inhibitor that can prove to be a viable alternative to chemotherapy. The medication mainly helps manage B-cell malignancies that have been overserved among different types of cancer.
This prescription medication is mainly suggested for those who are diagnosed with different types of lymphoma and leukemia. It is an active oral therapy that has potent qualities to fight and counter certain types of blood cancer.
KRAS-G12 C inhibitor
Genetic mutation is one of the main causes for cancer cells to develop and affect healthy tissues. Kirsten rat sarcoma (KRAS) genes are linked to the development of colorectal, pancreatic, and small cell lung cancers. KRAS-G12 C inhibitors render the KRAS proteins neutral and reduce the risk of a mutation that can lead to potential cancer development.
CAR T-Cell Therapy
T-Cells are a type of immune system cells found in the body. CAR T-cell therapy modifies these immune cells to attack and prevent cancer cells from developing. Special receptors that bind to these proteins and enable the elimination of T-cells are also synthesized. The modified cells are reintroduced back into the body through infusion to counter specific types of cancer.
Asthma is a chronic or long-term health condition that makes breathing difficult. Though no specific foods can cure or cause asthma, they play an important role in managing the condition. Quite a few studies have shown how certain foods are more likely to trigger an asthma attack in those with the disease. However, it is worth mentioning that not every asthma patient reacts the same way to the same foods.
Here, we have compiled a list of foods that are most likely to trigger asthma attacks or worsen symptoms:
Soy and soy-based products may not trigger symptoms in all asthma patients. However, some may find their symptoms getting worse after consuming soy-based products. That’s likely because they are allergic to soy. Therefore, those who are allergic to soy must steer clear of soybeans and soy-based products, such as tofu, soymilk, soybean oil, and soy nuts.
Dried fruits, such as raisins, prunes, apricots, and cherries, are indeed healthy. But the problem is that they usually contain sulfites, which act as a preservative, extending the shelf life of dried fruits. Sulfites are a problematic additive for most people with asthma. To identify if a product contains sulfites, look for words like “potassium bisulfite” and “sodium sulfite” on the package.
Dairy products like cheese
Many people believe that dairy products such as milk, butter, cheese, and ice cream increase mucus production in the lungs, exacerbating asthma symptoms. However, there isn’t enough scientific evidence to back that theory. Nevertheless, some asthma patients report having frequent attacks as a result of dairy consumption. Health experts recommend all patients eliminate dairy for several weeks and notice if there is any relief from asthma symptoms.
Beer and wine
Drinking beer and wine triggers coughing and wheezing in many people with asthma. That’s mainly because these drinks are infused with sulfites. Sulfites help boost the shelf life of beer and wine. However, as mentioned above, it may worsen asthma for many patients, especially those with moderate to severe symptoms. Additionally, wine contains histamine, which can cause sneezing, wheezing, and watery eyes, aggravating the condition.
Fatty foods like French fries
High levels of fat in desserts, French fries, fried chicken, and red meat can promote inflammation and decrease lung function, making asthma worse. Moreover, they may lead to the accumulation of visceral fat, making the lungs work harder and thereby aggravating asthma. These foods contain unhealthy fats like saturated and trans fat. It is best to limit the consumption of such high-fat foods strictly. That said, some fatty foods, such as avocado, salmon, and olive oil, contain omega-3 fatty acids and unsaturated fats, which are healthy fats that may help manage asthma symptoms.
The culprit here is, again, sulfites. Frozen or prepared shrimps are loaded with sulfites because the compound helps prevent the growth of those unappealing black spots. When those with asthma are eating out, they should ensure to not eat anything that’s been cooked in a broth prepared with shrimp or other shellfish, as that may trigger an uncomfortable asthma attack.
Processed foods hot dogs
Processed foods are often full of preservatives and artificial colorings that can increase inflammation in the lungs. Some problematic additives that have been identified are parabens (used in foods and medicines), tartrazine (found in sugary drinks, ice cream, and hot dogs), and nitrates and nitrites (used in hot dogs, bologna, and salami). Multiple studies have also shown that having lots of highly processed foods that are deep-fried, frozen foods, and packaged can worsen asthma symptoms over time.
Packaged or prepared potatoes
Indeed, using packaged or prepared potatoes helps save time. But it is a compromise on health. Manufacturers add lots of sulfites to ensure potatoes don’t turn brown. So, it’s best to steer clear of instant potatoes and instead opt for a whole potato that can be used in numerous recipes.
Certain artificial sweeteners may be a cause for concern for people with asthma. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), aspartame, the artificial sweetener commonly found in sugar-free sodas, has been known to cause allergic reactions in some people. These reactions can lead to a severe asthma attack. Health experts recommend refraining from all foods and drinks containing artificial sweeteners, especially aspartame.
Again, those pesky sulfites! Pickles are fermented foods that are infused with sulfites so that they last longer on supermarket shelves. However, they aren’t the only fermented foods that contain sulfites. Sauerkraut, relishes, horseradish sauce, and even salad dressing mixes may contain the harmful additive.
Maraschino cherries are typically made from light-colored sweet cherries. The traditional method of preparing maraschino cherries is by the preservation method. That means they likely contain sulfites or other preservatives that may trigger asthma symptoms. Those with this health condition should avoid this variety of cherries.
Sometimes, refraining from trigger foods might not be sufficient for controlling asthma. In such cases, doctors may likely prescribe medications. Read on to learn about some popular asthma medications.
FASENRA® (benralizumab) is designed to target and remove a type of white blood called eosinophils, which may contribute to asthma symptoms. The medication is only for those who are at least 12 years old. FASENRA comes in the form of an injection that must be administered once every eight weeks or so.
DUPIXENT® (dupilumab) is an add-on maintenance treatment for people with moderate to severe eosinophilic or oral steroid-dependent asthma. Doctors may prescribe this medication when other medicines fail to control asthma effectively. Dupixent is an injectable medication for patients who are at least six years old.
SPIRIVA® RESPIMAT® (tiotropium bromide) is prescribed for the long-term management of asthma for patients who are six years and older. It’s an inhalation spray that must be used once daily. SPIRIVA® RESPIMAT® can open constricted airways for up to 24 hours, assisting in the management of asthma symptoms.
NMOSD or Neuromyelitis Optica Spectrum Disorder, also known as Decic syndrome or opticomyelitis, is a chronic brain and spinal cord disorder that causes inflammation of the optic nerve. The rarity of this disorder can be gauged from the fact that it affects only 1-10 per 100,000 individuals. This makes it more important to be aware of its signs and symptoms, nutrition options, and medicines.
Signs and symptoms
The primary symptom of NMOSD is inflammation of the optic nerve. This is also termed optic neuritis or myelitis. The inflammation can lead to pain in the eyes followed by acuity or loss of clear vision. NMOSD is typically unilateral, as it usually affects only one eye. It can affect both eyes as the disease progresses.
Poor bowel movements
Since NMOSD also affects the spinal cord, it can cause spinal inflammation. This cardinal syndrome is also known as transverse myelitis as it affects all sensory, motor, and autonomic functions. This can lead to problems with bowel movements.
Weakness in limbs
Most sensory nerves originate from the spinal cord. Hence, when a patient suffers from transverse myelitis or inflamed spinal cord, it leads to weakness in the limbs. Individuals may also experience pain in their spine and limbs. The pain may diminish in the earlier stages, and the individual’s deep tendon reflexes may exaggerate. As the disorder progresses, the person may have a stiff neck and get headaches.
The signs and symptoms mentioned above can also be a result of any other disorder. For instance, in the earlier course of this disorder, the symptoms look similar to multiple sclerosis. However, the difference is, a person suffering from NMOSD may have severe optic neuritis and myelitis. As these early signs and symptoms become severe, the person may experience vision loss or paralysis. However, the same improve with standard treatment.
While NMOSD can be treated with medication, certain changes in the food regime are required as well. These foods not only complement the treatment but also helps reduce risk. Read on to know more.
Foods to eat and avoid
Nutrition plays a crucial role in managing NMOSD symptoms. While these may not classify as an NMOSD treatment option, eating and avoiding certain foods can certainly provide relief.
Foods to eat
Food rich in vitamin D
It is found that people with low vitamin D levels are at a greater risk of suffering from NMOSD. It can lead to having lower bone density, which can make it difficult to manage NMOSD. Food rich in vitamin D includes fatty fish like tuna, mackerel, and salmon, low-fat cheese, yogurt, beef liver, orange juice, and some dairy products.
Food rich in PUFA
PUFA or polyunsaturated fatty acids play an important role in managing NMOSD. PUFA such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids can help decrease inflammation in the brain and spinal cord. This may provide relief from pain in the limbs and bowel movements. Some foods rich in PUFA include walnuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, peanut butter, flaxseeds, poppy seeds, avocado, and safflower.
Poor bowel movements are one of the signs of NMOSD. Hence, it is important to include foods that get easily processed by the digestive system. Gluten is a type of compound that binds the grain structure. However, gluten can take a long to digest and cause bloating. Hence, it is important to switch to gluten-free food options like legumes, dairy products, eggs, fruits, and vegetables.
Free radicals are one of the other factors that increase the risk of inflammation in the body. Foods such as green tea and berries are rich in antioxidants that can eliminate these free radicals in the body, helping reduce inflammation.
Foods to avoid
Most processed and packaged foods contain preservatives and other additives that can make it difficult to manage symptoms caused due to inflammation in the brain and spinal cord. It is recommended to eat freshly cooked food or packaged foods that do not contain preservatives.
Foods containing saturated fats
Saturated fats are not easily processed by the body and remain in the digestive system for a longer period. This can increase the risk of suffering from bloating, which further burdens an already weakened bowel system. Some foods rich in saturated fats include cakes, biscuits, fatty cuts of meat, sausages, bacon, and cured meats.
Eat less salt
Salt contains sodium, which retains water in the body. Eating excess salt not only increases the risk of hypertension but also causes pain due to inflammation. Hence, it is recommended to cut down on salt or replace it with spices and herbs to enhance flavor.
It is important to discuss with a doctor before making any changes in daily nutrition like eating and avoiding foods that may aggravate some other underlying health conditions.
While it is important to be aware of symptoms and foods, certain NMOSD treatment options can help provide better relief from the same. Following are some medications and other procedures that can be considered as NMOSD treatment options:
This is typically considered as the first line of treatment for NMOSD. The procedure involves removing some blood from the patient’s body and separating plasma mechanically. The blood is then mixed with some other replacement solution that is transfused back into the body. Plasma therapy can help manage pain in the muscles due to inflammation in the spinal cord.
This treatment option of NMOSD is a form of anti-inflammatory medicine that is used for managing inflammation in the spinal cord and the brain. This can suppress some symptoms such as pain in limbs and even provide relief from poor bowel movements.
Immunosuppressants like Azathioprine, mycophenolate mofetil, and Rituximab are used alongside low doses of intravenous corticosteroids as NMOID treatment options. Medications such as Uplinza and Enspryng have also been approved by the FDA as another NMOSD treatment option in an adult with AQP4 antibody.
GISTs or Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors are rare types of cancer that develop in the gastrointestinal tract, commonly known as the digestive tract. The wall of this tract has special cells called the interstitial cells of Cajal, which help the stomach muscles to move the food along during the digestive process. Knowledge of food, nutrition, and treatment options can be helpful in managing this illness a little better. This article talks about the same in detail.
Food and nutrition
Food is an important source of energy, especially during an illness when the system requires an additional boost to recover from and manage symptoms. While there is no conclusive research to suggest any particular food can help prevent or cure cancer, there is research to suggest what food groups might or might not be helpful in maintaining a low-risk cancer lifestyle.
The curcumin in the herb has medicinal properties has been found out via several studies and research in the past years. According to a clinical study, those with a particular type of cancer were treated with intravenous and imatinib medication to promising results.
It has been studied that the consumption of vitamin B12 can help in reducing anxiety and weakness during GIST treatment. This B12 deficiency can be due to anemia and, hence, consuming foods like clams, sardines, beef, tuna, trout, salmon, fortified nutritional yeast, yogurt, cheese, and eggs is recommended.
Foods rich in dietary fiber are considered good for those suffering from GISTs and undergoing treatment. Oats, cabbage, and even bamboo are considered to be healthy food options. These can help the digestive process, making it easy on the body by not expending excess energy.
While milk products contain vitamin B12, some people undergoing GIST treatment may become intolerant towards dairy and its byproducts. Lactose intolerance can either be temporary or even permanent in some cases. It can lead to abdominal pain and other complications during the treatment, so consult a doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.
Fried foods, sugary beverages, and even processed meat should be avoided at all costs for those suffering from GISTs. A study conducted in 2014 by Israeli researchers suggests that there is high risk involved between obesity and GISTs. This makes it clear that foods that are usually considered “junk” or even “fast foods” are to be strictly cut down from the meal plan.
Apart from these types of foods, make sure you stay clear of peppermint, corn, bell pepper, and tarragon unless it is in minimal amounts. Avoiding carrots, nutmeg, fenugreek, honeysuckle, and coconut is also advised to those recovering from the illness as they can irritate the stomach. Always take a doctor’s consent before embarking on any new diet to ensure continued holistic recovery.
There are various treatment options that can be explored for GIST such as the ones below.
This is an option chosen when the GIST has not spread too far and can be reached and removed without much damage to the tissue. Depending on the diagnosis, the surgery can be done using a laparoscopy, which means the whole stomach does not need to be cut. There are small incisions made on the wall of the abdomen through which the laparoscopy is done. The instruments enter through these incisions to remove the tumor or infected tissue.
This is a treatment option in which medication is used to specifically identify and target the cancer cells in order to kill them. It is studied that this kind of therapy proves to be less harmful to normal cells unlike in radiation or chemotherapy.
There are several medications used in targeted therapy; they are called tyrosine kinase inhibitors or TKIs that essentially work on blocking the cancer cell/tumor growth. These inhibitors are used to shrink the tumors to a size safe for surgical removal. There are some medications like imatinib mesylate, or sunitinib, or even ripretinib, which have been useful in the treatment. Ripretinib is a medicinal inhibitor specifically used to treat gastrointestinal stromal tumors that have reached an advanced stage. It is approved to be used for adults, especially those who have also received some prior kinase inhibitor treatments with other medicines like imatinib. According to professionals, the recommended dosage of ripretinib is about 150 mg orally once daily with or without food.
While this may not seem like treatment, supportive care is crucial for those going through GIST removal treatment. The procedures are exhausting and additional care and support play a huge role in recovery. For example, pain and anxiety can be difficult to manage and some doctors suggest radiation therapy to reduce the pain. Other side effects, which can be physical, psychological, or social, need addressing to ensure a holistic recovery is achieved by the patient.
Another necessity is to be watchful of the patients after their surgery or other treatment plans. Observing their recovery to ensure there aren’t any severe side effects or complications is important in reaching a healthy state again.
This may be something that patients can do after a thorough discussion with their doctor. Clinical trials are done where new types of medication or therapies are tried with no hundred percent guarantee. However, all people respond differently to these trials and it may very well work to remove and cure the GISTs. Make sure you go through the details of the procedure, side effects, and recovery program in detail. Also, ensure to follow through with the instructions given by the doctor to ensure maximum success.
Apart from taking the support of your family and friends, it is advisable to join a cancer support group that may help to reduce or cope with any psychological stress that can be caused due to such an illness.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), also known as macular degeneration, is an eye condition caused due to the deterioration of the macula, a small area in the retina. Fortunately, food plays a vital role in preventing and slowing down the progression of the condition. Let’s take a look at the common symptoms of the condition and what one must include and avoid in their meal regimen to manage these symptoms.
Early signs of macular degeneration
These are the common signs of macular degeneration:
One may experience vision that is blurry or distorted. Dark or blurry areas may appear in the center of the vision caused by the thinning of the macula.
Sensitivity to contrast
As the condition progresses, one may find it difficult to distinguish between different textures and colors. That said, this symptom is not as common in patients with macular degeneration.
Difficulty adjusting to changes in light levels
One may find it difficult to adjust their eyes when they move from a well-lighted room to a poorly-lighted room and vice versa, leading to blackouts.
Foods to include
One must include these foods in their meal regimen to help manage or prevent macular degeneration:
Studies have shown that eating colorful and leafy vegetables, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, squash, spinach, and kale, can help prevent or reduce the effects of macular degeneration. Colorful veggies contain an antioxidant called carotenoids (lutein and zeaxanthin) that helps enhance the protective pigment around the macula, thus preventing the condition. One must include at least one of these vegetables in every meal, every day, as the body cannot produce lutein or zeaxanthin by itself.
Vitamin C is one of the most beneficial nutrients for the human eye. It helps strengthen the blood vessels in the eyes and slow down the progression of macular degeneration. Along with vitamin C, one must also consume foods rich in beta carotene and zinc, as they help enhance the effects of vitamin C. Fruits like oranges, lemons, grapefruit, strawberries, peaches, and mangoes are good sources of these essential vitamins and nutrients.
Seeds and nuts
Nuts and seeds are a storehouse of nutrients. They contain healthy fats, vitamins, fiber, proteins, antioxidants, and minerals, all of which are beneficial to the body. These tiny nutrient-rich foods help prevent heart disease, oxidative stress, inflammation, and eye-related problems like macular degeneration. One can incorporate seeds like flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and nuts like walnuts and almonds in their meals every day.
Whole grains and legumes
Whole grains, packed with vitamins, fiber, and minerals, are an excellent option for those dealing with macular degeneration. Having whole grains such as whole wheat, quinoa, and oats increases energy levels in the body and helps manage blood sugar. Similarly, legumes are rich in fiber, protein, and nutrients, all of which are beneficial to the eyes. Add legumes like peanuts or chickpeas in soups and salads, or consume legume-based foods like hummus and peanut butter to improve eye health.
Omega-3 fatty acids reduce clogging in the blood cells and lower bad cholesterol levels in the body, both of which are linked to AMD. They also help reduce inflammation in the body. Consuming food rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel daily helps lower the risk of the condition. One must also include olive oil in their food, as it contains antioxidants and phenolic compounds that are healthy for the eyes. Drizzle olive oil on salads, use it for baking vegetables, or add it to stir-fried vegetables and preparations for a healthier touch.
High amounts of salt or sugar in the food may aggravate symptoms of AMD. Therefore, one must cut down on salt and sugar and opt for healthier alternatives, such as dried or fresh herbs and spices, for added flavor. Herbs and spices contain various nutrients that improve overall health while making the food more delicious.
Foods to avoid
Certain foods aggravate the symptoms of AMD. Avoid these foods to manage and improve the condition.
Although burgers, fries, chips, and cakes may seem appealing, they aren’t the best choice for those with macular degeneration. They contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which can lead to plaque buildup in the arteries of the eyes, depriving them of nutrient-rich blood.
Eating foods containing large amounts of oil may lead to a higher risk of AMD. Also, one must steer clear of hydrogenated fats like coconut or palm oil, as they worsen the condition. Instead, one must consume healthier alternatives like flaxseed, olive, or canola oil.
High-fat dairy products
Dairy products are healthy in moderation, but too much high-fat dairy can cause problems for those with AMD. This is because dairy can cause inflammation, leading to puffiness and swelling. One should also eat whole eggs in moderation.
Medications for macular degeneration
Here are a few medications that are effective for managing AMD. One must talk to their doctor before taking any medication or beginning any kind of treatment.
Bevacizumab is a type of medication (injection) that is administered to those with this condition. It blocks the production of abnormal blood vessels and provides relief to those with AMD. Proper use of the medication helps improve vision significantly.
This medication is injected into the eye to reduce the growth of abnormal cells and leakages caused by these cells. Ranibizumab may cause side effects like dry eyes, sore throat, cough, or joint pain. In rare cases, it may also increase one’s risk of developing an eye condition called endophthalmitis.
This medication can be used alone or in combination with other medicines to manage symptoms of AMD. It may cause side effects like discomfort in the eyes, blurred vision, or mild pain in the eyes. If these side effects worsen or persist, one must seek medical help immediately.
Beovu is an FDA-approved medication used to treat AMD. It works by blocking the abnormal blood cells in the body and improving vision. The injection is administered monthly.
The early signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease can be subtle enough and can be easily overlooked by those suffering or those around the patient. It is, therefore, essential to spread awareness about the condition. Knowing the signs and conditions can help with timely treatment. Attention plays a crucial role in early detection, treatment, and ultimately in Parkinson’s relief options. Here are some signs and symptoms that should not be overlooked:
Tremors are one of the most distinguishable early signs of Parkinson’s disorder. The initiation is with slight twitching of hands, thumbs, fingers, and/or chin. The tremors caused as a result of the onset of Parkinson’s are often referred to as “rest tremors.” This is because tremors are usually experienced by patients while they are resting. As the condition progresses, the intensity of the tremors also progresses.
Loss of smell
Loss of smell or olfactory dysfunction is yet another early symptom of Parkinson’s. Although this symptom is not related to any motor function, it is one of the signs that can appear years before the onset of the disorder. People that go through olfactory dysfunction experience permanent dulling of senses. This is different from the loss of smell or stuffiness experienced during cold or flu. With Parkinson’s, the sense of smell dulls down, and individuals can experience difficulty in identifying odors.
Stiffness of limbs can be a common occurrence in people for various reasons. However, after a while, it tends to go away when the person is active again. If the stiffness remains for a prolonged time and does not go away even after adapting to an active lifestyle, it can be an indication of Parkinson’s disease. The stiffness in Parkinson’s is often accompanied by an inability to move freely and quickly. The slowing down of the body is medically known as bradykinesia.
Apart from the signs mentioned above, some other early signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include changes in facial expressions, changes in an individual’s posture, handwriting growing smaller, and/or difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep.
Awareness about any health condition is vital to help cure or tackle it during the early stages. Moreover, equal importance should be given to lifestyle and food choices. Here are some foods that can help people who have or might be developing Parkinson’s disease:
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are one of the superfoods that benefit people across all walks of life. Fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sardines are high in omega-3 content, which is why professionals recommend them. Omega-3 is a good quality fat; it helps improve cognitive impairment in patients. As a result, it is excellent for those with degenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s, dementia, and Parkinson’s. The intensity of symptoms like confusion, loss of movement control, dementia, and tremors can lessen with this compound, making it one of the key inclusions in Parkinson’s relief options. Vegetarians can get omega-3 from chia seeds, flax seeds, and walnuts.
Green tea is one of the most antioxidant-rich drinks in everyone’s pantry. The beverage has risen in rank and has speedily reached the top drink for a healthy yet tasty mid-day beverage. It has proven to be an asset in the war against various health conditions, including cardiac issues, diabetes, and kidney and liver-related conditions. However, its not-so-common benefit is for mental wellbeing. A cup of this hot beverage is known to do wonders for self-care. In fact, in 2016, a study published in the CNS Neurological Disorder-Drug Targets journal claimed that the beverage plays a part in slowing down the progression of Parkinson’s.
It might not be one of the tastier vegetables out there, but it surely is one of the healthier ones. The fava plant is known to contain a chemical that is often used to treat Parkinson’s. This chemical is known as levodopa and is a dopamine-replacement chemical that mimics the activity of dopamine. Although there is a lack of substantial amount of studies, the existing research suggests the plant contains more than just levodopa. Although the compounds in this are yet to be discovered, it is for sure that fava beans are one of the crucial ingredients in Parkinson’s relief options.
Fruits are high in antioxidants, especially berries. This antioxidant content enables the body to fight off oxidative stress and damage caused by free radicals. Oxidative stress is known to be higher than normal in conditions such as Parkinson’s. Additionally, they help maintain a healthy immune system and healthy cells.
Food plays an important role in the treatment and management of various health conditions. However, it is not prudent to rely on food alone. If anyone is experiencing any of the above signs, it is important to get things checked by a health care expert. There are medications available that can also help improve or maintain the condition and slow down the progression of Parkinson’s.
Another Parkinson’s relief option includes Tolacpone, branded under Tamar. Tolcapone is a compound that helps the body inhibit the function of catechol-O-methyl transferase (COMT). COMT is an enzyme that prohibits levodopa-carbidopa or dopamine from reaching the brain, making it difficult to function normally. On the other hand, Tolcapone helps in the treatment by increasing the functionality of levodopa and decreasing the effect of COMT.
Entacapone, commercially manufactured under Comtan, is yet another oral medication for Parkinson’s relief. Like Tolcapone, Entacapone works by inhibiting the impact of COMT, making it easier for levodopa to reach the brain. Entacapone can be used as a combination therapy along with other medications for the condition. It is also helpful in improving the motor functions of the patients.
Ongentys is an oral medication that contains Opicapone. It can be used with levodopa-carbidopa, a dopamine replacer, and is used as the primary line of treatment for Parkinson’s. Like the above two medications, Ongentys or Opicapone also helps by improving the efficacy of levodopa and, in turn, helps the improve brain function of the patients, making it a crucial part of Parkinson’s relief options.