It's April and Spring is Here!

Spring is finally rolling around the corner

and for most of us, that’s a big relief.  For many others, however, this revival of life also means the return of sneezing, coughing, wheezing, itching and other vexing symptoms of spring allergies, commonly known as hay fever.  To help you better prepare for the allergy season and better enjoy a tear-free spring, here are five things you might not have known about spring allergies.

Springtime can be a motivator for keeping up with your New Year’s Healthy Lifestyle Goals. 

As the weather continues to get better and in between rain showers, we hope you continue on your quest for health and happiness in this New Year.  Let us help you debunk some of the myths about working out. 

Weight will bulk me up.  Unless you are on steroids and throwing around some serious iron, you will not bulk up.  In fact, weight training is the only sure way to change body composition.  So drop the three-pound dumbbells and grab the 8’s or 10’s.  Still not motivated?  Know that lifting heavier weights is more effective in increasing muscle strength, which in turn increases your metabolism, and burns more fat.  Win-win.

Stretching before exercise prevents injury.  It actually can do the opposite.  Static stretching (stretches you hold) pre-workout is comparable to taking your car out for a drag race first thing on a winter morning.  Crazy.  Like your car, you must be warm before you start holding stretches.  Cold muscles limit joint mobility and can lead to pulled muscles.  A better option is engaging in some dynamic stretches that mimic your planned workout.  Think walking before a run.  Jumping jacks and body weight squats before lifting weights.  Save bending over and touching your toes for the end of your sweat session when you and your muscles are nice and warm.

Spot reducing works.  Muscles aren’t as single-minded as your fitness goals.  Muscles work together.  Fat loss and muscle gain is distributed throughout the body, not one area of the body.

Running on a treadmill is better for my knees.   The difference in impact on concrete versus a rubberized treadmill, grass or a track is actually relatively small when it comes to joint impact.  So if you are worried about your knees, whether you run indoors or out, do a legitimate warmup, like a few minutes of walking combined with dynamic stretches for large leg muscles connected to the knee.  Think walking lunges, jogging in place or high knees.

Crunches are key to a flat stomach.   Or a neck injury.  Not only do many people do crunches incorrectly, it is usually the only thing they are doing when it comes to sculpting their midsection.  Crunching only works your core in along one plane of motion (sagittal) front to back. Not cool since there are two other planes dying to join the party, the frontal plane (side to side movement) and transverse plane (rotational).  So change things up and add some standing oblique crunches or twists to your lunges.

No pain, no gain.   True, if it doesn’t challenge you it won’t change you, but if it hurts you then something isn’t right.  How can you decipher soreness from pain?  If you feel the same level of soreness more than 48 hours after a tough work out (it should taper off), then this may be a sign of a pulled muscle or another injury.   Also if you feel pain in your muscles or joints during exercise that too may be worth a doctor’s investigation.   But let’s not get it twisted.  Feeling the burn should not be confused with muscle/joint discomfort.  The burn is where you want to be as this is exactly where your results live.

Exercising on an empty stomach will burn more fat.   There is no true evidence supporting this notion so fuel up before you cut up at the gym.  Not only will you move slower, doing so can also lead to muscle loss as the body pulls energy from protein when carbohydrates are not present.  So keep it light with a snack that is about 30g of carbs.  If you can’t stomach food before a work out then sprint t the dining room table no more than 30 minutes after your workout to refuel ASAP. 

  1. Flowers are beautiful, abundant and probably not the cause of your allergies.   Most springtime allergies are caused by tree pollen, not flowers.  The most allergenic trees, such as oak, birch, and maple, have small or in the case of pine trees, no flowers.  Trees that expend energy making beautiful flowers, rather than lots of pollen, know they will attract insects like bees to help them move the allergy-causing pollen from tree to tree.  Conversely, the allergenic trees need to produce a lot more pollen to better the chance that wind will blow their pollen to the next tree, to aid their process of reproduction. You can tell when a tree is pollinating by looking for catkins hanging off the branches.
  2. You can develop spring allergies at any age, even if you didn’t have them as a child.     If your mild, cold-like symptoms continue unabated and are unaccompanied by a fever, it might not be a cold at all.  Although many people first develop allergies during pre-adolescence, it is nevertheless quite common for people to develop their first springtime allergies post-high school or even into their 30’s or 40’s.  Sometimes a change in environment can cause allergies if you have recently moved from the city to the country or vice-versa.
  3. Spring allergies actually start in the winter.   Although we commonly think of plants restarting their life cycle and pollinating around springtime, and bringing with them the much-dreaded allergy symptoms, this process can actually start much earlier.  This is because the trigger for plants to start pollinating is not only warming temperatures but also the increasing length of sunlight during the day. Even as parts of the country are still reeling from below normal temperatures, the spring allergy season is already well underway.  At the end of February, for example, cedar and juniper pollen will have already appeared in the Northeast, while the Mid-Atlantic will begin to see alder and elm pollen.  In Texas, high allergenic trees such as oak and ash have already begun to pollinate by end of February, as have the poplar cottonwoods of California.
  4. If you are allergic to one tree, you’re not necessarily allergic to them all. While there is some cross-reactivity between tree pollens, being allergic to one does not mean you’re allergic to them all.  Trees pollinate in a more or less predictable pattern and knowing which ones you’re not sensitive to can help decrease the amount of medication you use.  The best way to find out which pollens triggers your allergies is to see an allergist and get tested.
  5. Eating local honey does not cure allergies.  While honey is healthy, delicious and supports local farmers, it is a misnomer that eating local honey will prevent allergies to local pollens.  Bees eat the pollen, which contains the same amount of nutrients as a bean, so not much pollen actually gets into the honey.  The concentration of pollen spores present in the honey is low and nowhere near the amount that allergists will give the patient during immunotherapy or allergy shots.  Immunotherapy allergy treatment will gradually “vaccinate” the body against allergens by introducing small and regulated amounts of the offensive pollen allergen.  This procedure is effective to build up the bodies tolerance immunity to pollen, unlike the consumption of honey.  Blooming plants does not need to mean blooming allergies.  The more you know about your spring allergies, the better you can guard against its irritating symptoms.  See your allergist to learn more about how to have a beautiful spring that is free of sneezing, itching, and wheezing.

A quarter of the New Year is already gone!!! 

Have you scheduled your annual examination?

Annual Gynecological Exams Can Save Lives.

Having a yearly gynecological examination is an important aspect of responsible preventative health care and ensuring your physical and reproductive well-being.  Despite warnings from leading medical organizations, many women fail to have an annual gynecological exam.  This costs thousands of women their lives each year. Many women think they do not need a physician unless they have a problem. 

In fact, problems are often first found through an annual examination.  Every woman should be aware that diseases such as breast, cervical and ovarian cancer have few obvious symptoms, and earlier detection increases chances for survival.

Annual gynecological exams should begin around age 15.  While pelvic exams are rarely required during these first visits, the annual exam helps to establish a doctor-patient relationship.  Young women can ask any questions they have about their development and/or menstrual cycle, methods of birth control and how to protect against sexually transmitted diseases.

Most doctors now recommend an annual Pap smear for most women ages 21 and older.  Many women have equated having a Pap smear with having an annual examine when in fact, a Pap smear is only one small component of the exam.  Women should have a gynecologic exam every year whether or not they are due for a Pap smear. 

Avoiding routine yearly gynecological exams increases the risk for unintended pregnancy, pelvic infections, and potentially delaying diagnosis of diseases such as ovarian and breast cancer.

What Should You Expect at Your First Examination?

First, a comprehensive medical history is taken, including a family history to assess possible familial cancer risks.  A physical exam is performed including an assessment of blood pressure, height and weight, and a pelvic and breast exam.

During the pelvic exam, the doctor may do a Pap smear, then check internally to examine the uterus and ovaries.  Unlike cervical cancer, which is detected by Pap smear, ovarian cancer is very difficult to detect.  Pain or other significant symptoms may not be noticed until the disease is well advanced.  But, if discovered early by a pelvic exam, it can be treated promptly which increases chances of survival.

Your doctor will also order a screening mammogram if you are between the ages of 35 and 40, and annual mammograms for women ages 40 and older.  Patients of all ages will be taught to perform monthly self-breast exams.  These steps are essential in helping to detect breast cancer, which kills more than 46,000 women each year.

Your doctor will discuss birth control methods or preconception counseling, protection from STD’s, calcium intake requirements, the need for cholesterol screening, and the importance of regular exercise and eating a well-balanced diet.  They can also offer help on smoking cessation.

If you are postmenopausal or otherwise at risk, your doctor will recommend screening tests for osteoporosis, colon cancer, and diabetes.  Vaccines may also be offered during the annual visit, including human papillomavirus, tetanus boosters, Hepatitis B, and flu.  You should ask your doctor any questions you have about pregnancy, hormones, your menstrual cycle, menopause symptoms and other health issues at this visit.

Every woman should be conscientious about having a routine gynecological exam once a year.  This exam serves to detect current health problems and evaluate risk factors for new problems that can develop.  Early detection and learning ways to reduce your risks of cancer is every woman’s best defense.  The annual gynecological examination helps provide guidance and testing that will promote wellness and good health habits for all women.

Okay, Okay, Okay, so we talked a lot about sneezing and exercising, now let’s talk about……  urinary incontinence!!

Literally millions of women suffer from urinary incontinence, and while many people believe it is simply an age-related issue, it can, in fact, affect people who are younger. Noticing the symptoms early and identifying the cause can help women with urinary incontinence get back to enjoying life.

Urinary incontinence in women can be both physically and emotionally draining. Essentially, it is the leaking of urine that can’t be controlled, so many women are afraid to leave the house out of fear they will be too far away from a washroom. Some people suffer in silence because they are too embarrassed to talk about it. The truth is, urinary incontinence can be managed and treated so if you think you are experiencing urinary incontinence you should speak to a medical professional.

The Asuriti Center for Incontinence and Pelvic Wellness is here to help.   Dr. Richard Mooney, a board certified urogynecologist, specializes in the treatment of women with these very sensitive issues.     

If you or any of your friends are experiencing urinary incontinence symptoms, call us today at 530-246-4455 to schedule an appointment.   You’ll discover there are many treatment options for stopping urinary incontinence.     “Leaking is NEVER normal”!!!

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