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Childhood Allergy Insights

Childhood Allergy InsightsEvery kid seems to have childhood allergies of some kind. I was allergic to strawberries when I was in grade school… but maybe that came from having to pick too many of them each summer. At any rate, that allergy went away as I got older, as many childhood allergies seem to do. Obviously, some allergies are more serious and present greater exposure to the child. Peanut allergies and being allergic to corn syrup can present life-threatening scenarios that must be guarded against constantly. Because they represent such an exposure, they also heavily impact the entire family environment, especially when travelling or attending a birthday party. Corn syrup further complicates the issue because it occurs in all kinds of processed foods. So, parents can never drop their vigilance.

Antibiotics and Vitamin D Deficiency Can Lead to Childhood Food Allergies

Thankfully, from time to time, medical research makes some breakthroughs to provide insights into what can be done to reduce the allergy potential. Two such occurrences have recently been reported through the American Academy of Pediatrics. The first established that increased use of antibiotics in the first year of a child’s life leads to higher incidence of food allergies. This is thought to occur because the antibiotics disrupt the bacteria (good as well as the bad) that are growing and forming a functional relationship in the child’s gut. Disturbing the balance allows for food allergies to gain a foothold.

The second insight is that a vitamin D deficiency can also set the stage for food allergies. An extensive study in Australia (a country with high child food allergy rates and extensive vitamin D deficiencies) has demonstrated a strong correlation between vitamin D deficiency and the propensity for food allergies. These study results suggest, then, that vitamin D sufficiency is a real protective factor in preventing food allergies in the first year of a child’s life.

Two Basic Solutions

The vitamin D deficiency issue is one more easily solved. Have your pediatrician check your child’s vitamin D level. It’s done through a simple blood test. Any deficiency can be corrected with medication. A vitamin D deficiency is not uncommon. We take vitamin D supplements on doctor’s orders every day. Vitamin D is important for many reasons, so don’t overlook this simple test. Avoiding a food allergy will make life much more pleasant for your child and much easier for you.

The antibiotics question is another issue altogether. If the medical situation warrants and your pediatrician says your baby needs an antibiotic, so be it. We have antibiotics to be used when they are needed. On the other hand, don’t try to talk the doctor into administering an antibiotic when it is not needed. This only builds resistance to the drug and disturbs the bacteria counts in the baby’s system.

So, by following that straightforward guidance of checking vitamin D levels and not abusing antibiotics, you and your child can reduce the potential for food allergies for your child. Your child will be happier and your life will be easier.

What Is a Food Allergy

What Is a Food AllergyA food allergy is caused when the body’s immune system triggers off an abnormal response to a certain type of food. The human body in general develops a high degree of tolerance to food in order to survive. Sometimes the presence of antigens in food components can cause a threat to the health of a person and that is when the body’s immune system starts reacting in order to destroy the harmful substances and thus causes an allergic reaction.

A food allergy can occur in different intensities ranging from mild reactions to those which can even be life threatening. It should not be confused with food intolerance. A food allergy can also be termed as food hypersensitivity because it is caused when the immune system identifies the ingested food as being harmful to the body and thus triggers off an allergic reaction.

The work of the immune system is to create food-specific antibodies to protect the body. These antibodies are actually proteins which fight the harmful antigens and try to destroy them or reduce their effectiveness. Allergens are the food which trigger the harmful reaction. Whenever this particular allergen is ingested by a person who is sensitive to it, the immune system discharges large amounts of chemicals and histamines to protect the body against the allergen. The resulting allergic reaction can affect the digestive tract, the respiratory tract, the skin and sometimes even the cardiovascular system.

Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies are created by the immune system as a defense against ingested allergens. These are created when the person is first exposed to the allergen and these antibodies attach themselves to certain cells in tissues in the body, especially in areas like the gastrointestinal tract, the lungs, the nose, the throat and the skin. The next time the person eats the food with that particular allergen a reaction occurs as the body releases histamines and chemicals which are located in the body’s cells. Symptoms such as inflammation occur. The type of allergic reaction depends on which part of the body the chemicals have been released. A reaction in the gastro intestinal tract can cause stomach cramps or diarrhea. If the reaction occurs in the ears, nose or throat the person can face breathing difficulties or sneezing. If it affects the cells on the skin it can result in hives. There can be itching, redness and inflammation. Medications which block the release of histamines are used to treat IgE allergies.

On the other hand, Immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies provide a long-term resistance to infection. These antibodies help combat viral and bacterial infections. The main cause of IgG food allergies are problems in the digestive tract. Most food allergies are IgG in nature. Complete removal of the problem food from the diet may improve the condition of the person. The IgG mediated allergies are classified as Type-III allergic reactions. These antibodies do not release histamines and the symptoms of the allergy are delayed. Sometimes the reactions occur even 72 hours after exposure to the antigen.

IgG mediated allergies do not have much in common with classic allergies and this is a topic for debate in the medical community. Both the IgG and the IgE antibodies help fight against invading pathogens.

Cholesterol Does Not Cause Heart Disease

Cholesterol Does Not Cause Heart DiseaseCholesterol is an essential building block of every cell in the body, required for all metabolic processes. It is particularly important in the production of nerve tissue, bile and certain hormones. On average, our body produces about half of a gram to one gram of cholesterol per day, depending on how much of it the body needs at the time. By and large, our body is able to produce 400 times more cholesterol per day than what we would obtain from eating 3,5 ounces (100 grams) of butter. The main cholesterol producers are the liver and the small intestine, in that order. Normally, they are able to release cholesterol directly into the blood stream, where it is instantly tied to blood proteins. These proteins, which are called lipoproteins, are in charge of transporting the cholesterol to its numerous destinations. There are three main types of lipoproteins in charge of transporting cholesterol: Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL), Very Low Density Lipoprotein (VLDL), and High Density Lipoprotein (HDL).

In comparison to HDL, which has been privileged with the name ‘good’ cholesterol, LDL and VLDL are relatively large cholesterol molecules; in fact, they are the richest in cholesterol. There is good reason for their large size. Unlike their smaller cousin, which easily passes through blood vessel walls, the LDL and VLDL versions of cholesterol are meant to take a different pathway; they leave the blood stream in the liver.

The blood vessels supplying the liver have a very different structure from the ones supplying other parts of the body. They are known as sinusoids. Their unique, grid-like structure permits the liver cells to receive the entire blood content, including the large cholesterol molecules. The liver cells rebuild the cholesterol and excrete it along with bile into the intestines. Once the cholesterol enters the intestines, it combines with fats, is absorbed by the lymph and enters the blood, in that order. Gallstones in the bile ducts of the liver inhibit the bile flow and partially, or even fully, block the cholesterol’s escape route. Due to back-up pressure on the liver cells, bile production drops. Typically, a healthy liver produces over a quart of bile per day. When the major bile ducts are blocked, barely a cup of bile, or even less, will find its way to the intestines. This prevents much of the VLDL and LDL cholesterol from being excreted with the bile.

Gallstones in the liver bile ducts distort the structural framework of the liver lobules, which damages and congests the sinusoids. Deposits of excessive protein also close the grid holes of these blood vessels (see the discussion of this subject in the previous section). Whereas the ‘good’ cholesterol HDL has small enough molecules to leave the bloodstream through ordinary capillaries, the larger LDL and VLDL molecules are more or less trapped in the blood. The result is that LDL and VLDL concentrations begin to rise in the blood to levels that seem potentially harmful to the body. Yet even this scenario is merely part of the body’s survival attempts. It needs the extra cholesterol to patch up the increasing number of cracks and wounds that are formed as a result of the accumulation of excessive protein in the blood vessel walls. Eventually, though, the life-saving cholesterol begins to occlude the blood vessels and cut off the oxygen supply to the heart.

In addition to this complication, reduced bile flow impairs the digestion of food, particularly fats. Therefore, there is not enough cholesterol made available to the cells of the body and their basic metabolic processes. Since the liver cells no longer receive sufficient amounts of LDL and VLDL molecules, they (the liver cells) assume that the blood is deficient in these types of cholesterol. This stimulates the liver cells to increase the production of cholesterol, further raising the levels of LDL and VLDL cholesterol in the blood.

The ‘bad’ cholesterol is trapped in the circulatory system because its escape routes, the bile ducts and the liver sinusoids, are blocked or damaged. The capillary network and arteries attach as much of the ‘bad’ cholesterol to their walls as they possibly can. Consequently, the arteries become rigid and hard.

Coronary heart disease, regardless of whether it is caused by smoking, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, overeating protein foods, stress, or any other factor, usually does not occur unless gallstones have impacted the bile ducts of the liver. Removing gallstones from the liver and gallbladder can not only prevent a heart attack or stroke, but also reverse coronary heart disease and heart muscle damage. The body’s response to stressful situations becomes less damaging, and cholesterol levels begin to normalize as the distorted and damaged liver lobules are regenerated. Cholesterol-lowering drugs don’t do that. They artificially reduce blood cholesterol, which coerces the liver to produce even more cholesterol. But when extra cholesterol is passed into the bile ducts, it remains in its crystalline state (versus soluble state) and, thereby, turns into gallstones. People who regularly use cholesterol-lowering drugs usually develop an excessively large number of gallstones. This sets them up for major side effects, including cancer and heart disease.

Cholesterol is essential for normal functioning of the immune system, particularly for the body’s response to the millions of cancer cells that every person makes in his body each day. For all the health problems associated with cholesterol, this important substance is not something we should try to eliminate from our bodies. Cholesterol does far more good than harm. The harm is generally symptomatic of other problems. I wish to emphasize, once again, that ‘bad’ cholesterol only attaches itself to the walls of arteries to avert immediate heart trouble, not to create it. This is confirmed by the fact that cholesterol never attaches itself to the walls of veins. When a doctor tests your cholesterol levels, he takes the blood sample from a vein, not from an artery. Although blood flow is much slower in veins than in arteries, cholesterol should obstruct veins much more readily than arteries, but it never does. There simply is no need for that. Why? Because there are no abrasions and tears in the lining of the vein that require patching up. Cholesterol only affixes itself to arteries in order to coat and cover up the abrasions and protect the underlying tissue like a waterproof bandage. Veins do not absorb proteins in their basements membranes like capillaries and arteries do and, therefore, are not prone to this type of injury.

‘Bad’ cholesterol saves lives; it does not take lives. LDL allows the blood to flow through injured blood vessels without causing a life-endangering situation. The theory of high LDL being a principal cause of coronary heart disease is not only unproved and unscientific. It has misled the population to believe that cholesterol is an enemy that has to be fought and destroyed at all costs. Human studies have not shown a cause-and-effect relationship between cholesterol and heart disease. The hundreds of studies so far conducted on such a relationship have only shown that there is a statistical correlation between the two. And there should be, because if there were no ‘bad’ cholesterol molecules attaching themselves to injured arteries we would have millions of more deaths from heart attack than we already have. On the other hand, dozens of conclusive studies have shown that risk of heart disease increases significantly in people whose HDL levels decrease. Elevated LDL cholesterol is not a cause of heart disease; rather, it is a consequence of an unbalanced liver and congested, dehydrated circulatory system.

If your doctor has told you that lowering your cholesterol with medical drugs protects you against heart attacks, you have been grossly misled. The #1 prescribed cholesterol-lowering medicine is Lipitor. I suggest that you read the following warning statement, issued on the official Lipitor web site:

“LIPITOR (atorvastatin calcium) tablets is a prescription drug used with diet to lower cholesterol. LIPITOR is not for everyone, including those with liver disease or possible liver problems, and women who are nursing, pregnant, or may become pregnant. LIPITOR has not been shown to prevent heart disease or heart attacks.

“If you take LIPITOR, tell your doctor about any unusual muscle pain or weakness. This could be a sign of serious side effects. It is important to tell your doctor about any medications you are currently taking to avoid possible serious drug interactions…”

My question is, “Why risk a person’s health or life by giving him/her a drug that has no effect, whatsoever, in preventing the problem for which it is being prescribed?” The reason why the lowering of cholesterol levels cannot prevent heart disease is because cholesterol does not cause heart disease.

The most important issue is how efficiently a person’s body uses cholesterol and other fats. The body’s ability to digest, process and utilize these fats depends on how clear and unobstructed the bile ducts of the liver are. When bile flow is unrestricted and balanced, both the LDL and HDL levels are balanced as well. Therefore, keeping the bile ducts open is the best prevention of coronary heart disease.

What You Should Know About Allergic Reactions

What You Should Know About Allergic ReactionsAn allergic reaction occurs when the immune system works overtime. For some people, certain substances do not agree with their body. The immune system then tries to get rid of these foreign substances from the body and in the process, the person has an allergic reaction. It could be a mild reaction or it could get severe. Some people may only react to one substance while others may react to many substances.

Major Symptoms of Allergies

The most common sign of an allergy is a runny nose along with watery eyes and itchy eyes. Usually the skin starts to itch and the person may also suffer from sneezing fits.

Different people show different symptoms when they react to allergens. For some, a rash or boils may appear on the skin. Hives are also common on the skin and these hives consist of a swollen area with a pale center. In some cases, fluids may leak from the blood vessels and cause a swelling under the skin, called Angioedema. This can lead to asthma or other breathing problems.

How to Diagnose and Treat an Allergy

An allergy is caused by an allergen. The first step is to identify this allergen. A lot of people are prone to allergies if someone else in their family also suffers from allergies. The doctor will usually ask you if anyone else in your family suffers from allergies. If you can identify the allergen that triggers their allergies, it may be easier to find the cause of your allergy.

One way to find the allergen is to figure out when the allergy comes up most often and how often it happens. For example, which season does it get the worst and does it come up only after you have consumed specific foods. Another way to find the allergen is to do a skin test. In this case, your skin is pricked with a needle. A diluted solution of different kinds extracts ranging from dust to drugs to food or pollen is then placed drop by drop on the skin. The skin will react and flare up if it is allergic to any of these substances. A person is usually told to stop all antihistamines for a specified period before the skin test is conducted.

The best way to avoid an allergic reaction is to try and avoid the allergen. It is important to stay away from foods or environmental conditions that may trigger an allergy. This is especially important for pregnant women. Antihistamines are also commonly prescribed for allergic reactions. They do not prevent the production of the histamine in the body but they block the effects.

How to Remove Nasal Polyps

How to Remove Nasal PolypsNasal polyps are some nasty little things that form inside the sinuses. They are teardrop shaped and look like grapes. They are brown, red and yellow in color and cause all sorts of problems for people that suffer from these growths. The symptoms include, loss of smell, loss of taste, chronic sinusitis, excessive drainage, facial pain, snoring and sleep apnea.

Studies show that people who have bad allergies, chronic sinusitis and a history of sinus infections are more prone to developing the polyps. So below are ways to prevent as well as ways on how to remove nasal polyps.

Saline Rinse

This is a great way to keep your nose healthy. Rinsing your nose with saline rinse on a regular basis keeps the nose free of debris and allergens. And as mentioned earlier, sinusitis and sinus infections make a person more susceptible to developing polyps in the nose. So this is a great step in preventing polyps as well as easing and alleviating the symptoms of the growths.

Chili Peppers

Who would have thought that chili peppers can help treat and cure nasal polyps? Well, it’s true. Studies show that capsaicin, a chemical found in chili peppers, increase blood flow and actually help shrink polyps naturally. Just one more way on how to remove nasal polyps.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil has many uses, and one of those uses is for treating polyps. Tea tree oil is also very potent, so you will want to dilute the oil with a little purified water before using it to treat your polyps. After you dilute the oil, take a cotton swab, dip it into the diluted oil and swab the growths in your nose. If you can’t reach them, simply swab the openings of your nose. Because of tea tree oil’s anti-inflammatory properties, the polyps will shrink giving you relief from the symptoms of the polyp growths.

Antioxidants

Studies have shown that foods rich in antioxidants help prevent free radical tissue damage and boosts your immune system. So this of course means eating more broccoli, citrus fruits and taking vitamin c supplements can greatly reduce your chances of developing polyps and help to naturally cure nasal polyps that you have in your nose.

When using natural treatment options, often time’s medications such as steroids, nasal drops, nasal sprays and even surgeries can be avoided. However, always check with your doctor before using any natural supplement. Especially if you are on any medications and/or have any medical condition.