Advice for Allergy Sufferers

By Carol Rudd, registered respiratory therapist, Healing Choices Oasis

Our nose drips, we sneeze and cough, people think we are sick, and the reality is we suffer with allergies. And I mean suffer! Our eyes itch and our ears and throat, even our skin itches. Those who don’t have allergies just don’t understand how irritating and distracting allergies can be. Approximately 50 million Americans suffer from some form of allergic disease, and the number is increasing.

So, what is an allergy? An allergy is a physical response your body has to something that usually is not problematic, like pollen, grass, dogs, or cats. Allergens can be just about anything: foods, plants, animals, dust, molds—you name it. Our immune system is triggered by an allergen and creates a variety of responses to defend against what our body sees as a foreign invasion. According to the John Hopkins Medicine website, “That’s the job of the immune system, to defend our bodies from microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi and to destroy any infectious microorganism that does invade. The immune system is made up of a complex network of cells and organs (lymphoid organs) that are responsible for the growth and development of lymphocytes.”

The American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology states “your immune system overreacts by producing antibodies called immunoglobulin E (IgE). These antibodies travel to cells that release chemicals, causing an allergic reaction.” It’s that allergic reaction that gets us in trouble! Those pesky symptoms can involve the nose, lungs, throat, sinuses, ears, lining of the stomach, and the skin. The AAAAI further states “each type of IgE has specific ‘radar’ for each type of allergen, and that’s why some people are only allergic to cat dander while others with multiple allergens have many more types of IgE antibodies.”

So what’s to be done? Avoidance has been the first line of defense against allergens. Sometimes, especially with those who have multiple allergies, it’s extremely hard to avoid contact with an allergen.

So, an over-the-counter antihistamine, which helps suppress the allergic response, is the usual first treatment for allergies. Then allergy testing and shots can be used to decrease a person’s sensitivity to an allergen. If that fails, prescription medications, including nasal and oral steriod inhalers, can decrease inflammation and offer some relief. On the holistic spectrum, things like detoxing the body, especially the gut, can be beneficial, as well as adding anti-inflammatory foods. Green tea is a natural antihistamine and only 2 cups a day, two weeks before allergy season will help avoid congestion! Adding spices like cayenne pepper, hot ginger, or fenugreek can calm a sore nose and un-stuff your head. Also acupuncture, chiropractic, and massage can provide relief of symptoms.

Allergies can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, race, or socioeconomic status. While allergies in children are more common, a first-time occurrence can happen at any age or recur after many years of remission. The most important thing you can do for yourself is to know your triggers and be prepared, be it a seasonal allergy or multiple all-year allergies.

WIC Can Help You “Go Further with Food”: March Is National Nutrition Month

By Susan Krahn, MS, RDN, CD, CLC, Public Health Nutritionist, Eau Claire City-County Health Department

Whether it’s starting the day off right with a healthy breakfast, packing a brown bag lunch, or enjoying a family supper, the foods you choose can make a real difference. “Go Further with Food” is the theme for National Nutrition Month. The theme highlights how our food choices impact not only our own health and well-being, but also the community.

Conversations about food often revolve around weight, health, or the environment. But people rarely talk about the foods we toss out. It is estimated that Americans throw away up to 90 billion pounds of food each year–either at home or when eating out. This amount doesn’t include food that goes to waste at the grocery store.

While many families struggle to get enough food to feed their families, the amount of safe food wasted in the United States is on the rise. While not all food that is thrown away could be saved and eaten, there are ways we can prevent food from being thrown away, especially at home.

  • Plans meals around the foods you already have on hand. Check the refrigerator, freezer, and pantry for foods that need to be used up. Buy fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, and dairy products that can be eaten within a few days. Buy more frozen fruits and veggies that are ready to use quickly and keep longer.
  • Get creative with leftovers. Plan to use leftover meats and vegetables in soups, salads, or sandwiches later in the week. Use them as a topping on cooked grains like rice or pasta.
  • Learn about date labels. Many dates on food packaging refer to the food’s quality, not food safety. Easily find out if it is time to toss foods by using the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ “Is My Food Safe” app (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.foodsafety&hl=en) or accessing the USDA’s FoodKeeper App at www.foodsafety.gov/keep/foodkeeperapp/index.html.

Registered dietitian nutritionists with the WIC program can give you more practical tips on how your family can “Go Further with Food.” The Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program is a nutrition program that provides wholesome foods, nutrition and breastfeeding education, and community support for low- and moderate-income women and children up to the age of five years.

WIC gives you healthy food and teaches you how to use it. Good nutrition during pregnancy and in the first few years of life has long-term positive impacts on health. WIC teaches you about the benefits of breastfeeding and guides you through the process. WIC gives you healthy food and teaches you how to shop for it, how to prepare it, and ways to help your child enjoy eating it. If you think your family may be eligible, contact your local WIC office or visit http://bit.ly/EauClaireCoWIC .

Each March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics focuses nationwide attention on healthful eating through National Nutrition Month. For more reliable nutrition information, visit www.eatright.org/nnm.

Forms of Stress: How Does Your Body Handle Them?

By Dr. Emily Rowan Alsheskie, chiropractor, MY Life Health Center

What if I told you that stress wasn’t real? Sounds untrue, but when thinking about mental or emotional stress, it is really how you perceive it. A farmer needs rain at certain times and sunshine at certain times. Sometimes when the farmer needs sunshine, it rains and when the farmer needs rain, the sun shines. Is rain a stressful event? Absolutely not! It’s all about how you perceive it. This idea of perception is the first essential of health that is taught in our practice, and it is one of three forms of stressors that occur to our bodies–emotional/mental stress.

Some mental stressors are out of our control, but there are ways to reduce our exposure to negativity by doing things like practicing forgiveness, using positive self-talk, and limiting our interactions with negative individuals.

The second major stressor may not be as obvious as the others, but it has a HUGE impact on the body’s ability to function properly. This is chemical stress. The most common form of chemical stress comes from our daily nutrition. This includes inflammatory products and foods like sugar, artificial sweeteners, food additives, preservatives and pesticides, as well as hydrogenated fats. The easiest way to avoid these harmful substances is to consume whole, fresh, organic foods and cut out processed and packaged foods. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store and not the aisles!

The last and typically most noticed form of stress is physical stress. Motor vehicle accidents, slips, falls, and sporting injuries are common forms of macrotrauma. Microtraumas that accumulate over time and contribute to physical stress include things like sitting at a desk for extended periods of time and bending the head forward to use gadgets like cell phones. These repetitive actions, that we were not designed to experience on a daily basis, cause structural changes to the spine and supporting musculature. These changes in our foundation impact our most important system, the nervous system. The nervous system is made up of the brain, spinal cord, and nerves that control all cells, tissues, and organs. When stress is constantly endured by the body–in all three forms: chemical, mental/emotional, and physical–the nervous system takes the hit and cannot control the body’s processes as it was intended to. This is why stress not only harms us in the short term but can lead to chronic diseases like cancer, cardiovascular complications, and other debilitating diseases.

Chiropractic care may be most known for symptom relief related to the spine, but chiropractors are really nervous system doctors. The nervous system is addressed via the spine since the vertebral column is what surrounds and protects this very important system. When the structure of the spine is in its most stable form, stress and tension are relieved from the spinal cord and the nerves that control the system’s processes. This is why patients who practice proper spinal hygiene with chiropractic adjustments and spinal therapies experience less sick days, improved quality of sleep, reduced number of over the counter/prescription medications, and less symptoms overall.

Stress is a normal part of life. I can’t take away your stressors like picking up your kids, making dinner, or walking your dog. But the big question here is, how well can your body handle stress? As doctors of chiropractic, we first and foremost check for any nervous system stressors and disruptors that can be causing an imbalance and inability to heal. From there we make corrections (the adjustment) by using our hands, drop table, and adjusting tool to put the body in a healing and less stressed state.

Physical, mental/emotional, and chemical stressors are a part of our day to day lives, but stress itself is not the problem. It’s how much stress we experience and how our bodies handle it. Taking care of yourself with adequate nutrition, exercise, mindset practices, and proper spinal alignment give you the best opportunity to prevent common lifestyle-induced illnesses and chronic pain. Whether you have aches and pains or not, get a nervous system evaluation to take a proactive and preventative approach to your health. Then incorporate the other tips included here to aid your body in healing!

Dr. Emily Rowan Alsheskie holds a doctorate in chiropractic with a special emphasis on prenatal and neonatal care. She is a recent graduate from Life University, a chiropractic college in Marietta, Georgia. Dr. Emily joined in practice with her mentor, Dr. Kevin Schultz, at MY Life Health Center in Lake Hallie this past fall. She is a mother to her two-year-old son, Rory, and is excited to raise him in the Chippewa Valley!

Easiest Ways to Play with Your Babies and Toddlers to Promote Healthy Development

From Ms Barb and Ms Vanessa at the Lily Pad Lab

1. Blocks
-Stack them and knock them down (cause/effect).
-Line them up and make a train (counting, pre-reading if you line up left to right, fine-motor, language “choo-choo”).
-Sort them by color or size (math readiness).
-Drop them into a bucket (cause/effect, fine-motor, object permanence by looking for the missing blocks).
-Bang them together and its imitation, which is needed to develop language for babies.

2. Teach your child easy baby signs to reduce frustration. Remember communication is the key, not exact pronunciations at this stage. Kids need a way to say what they need/want, and sign language gets the job done. Try “more, all-done, eat, drink, want, and help.” After that, try adding some animal signs or ones more relevant to your family.

3. Sing songs!

4. Read books!

5. Talk about the sounds things make, like animal noises or cars/trucks for example (language development).

6. Let kids empty the “plastic container drawers” and then show them how to put it all back in.  Much of early childhood is spent taking things out and putting them back in again.  Play with boxes and other containers.

7. Roll kids in a blanket (leave head out) and pretend they are a taco.  Add lots of “toppings” by gently or firmly patting them. Talkers can say what they want added, and non-talkers just love to be looked at and talked to.  A gentle tickle is fun too. Kids love this game and enjoy the silliness of it. Parents can also have a turn being the “taco.”

8. Try at least 5 or 10 minutes a day to talk less and give more eye contact to your child. Let the child lead the activity while the parent engages with their presence. Put the phone away and follow your child’s lead. Even if you are quiet the entire 10 minutes and only smile and look into your child’s eyes, you will be amazed at what you find. This activity fills their need to be loved and noticed and cherished.

9. Kids also love to dress up and do pretend play. Even if you don’t have costumes, pretending to be dogs or cars or monsters can be very entertaining for kids (language development and social/emotional health).

10. String beads (or pasta with wide holes, or cheerios).
Play with glue, markers, washable paint, sand, and crayons.

11. Make playdough and play! Those activities are good for fine-motor skills like eye-hand coordination and also language development.

Camp for Kids with Asthma

By Carol Rudd, Healing Choices Oasis

I was one—a kid with asthma. I know what it feels like to be short of breath! I was a sick, asthmatic kid that wasn’t able to exercise much. I missed out on a lot of fun activities with family and friends because my asthma would flare up when I got excited. So, vacations, holidays, stress at school, or even catching a cold could lay me low for weeks. I always wondered, “Why me?” “What did I do to deserve this?” I felt something was wrong with me, that I was weak and everyone was better than me. My parents tried to help and overprotected me most of the time, saying, “You shouldn’t go outside, Carol, it’s too cold.” I missed out on a lot of living. As a child, I felt that my asthma controlled me. In my teenage years, I finally started taking control of my asthma. I paid more attention to my breathing, and with avoidance of my triggers, life got a little easier.

I wish someone had told me when I was young that I would live through this. At twenty-five I realized I wasn’t going to die from my asthma and decided I better figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I learned more about my lungs, became a respiratory therapist, and worked with both kids and adults for the last forty-one years. While I never outgrew my asthma, I did learn to live and even thrive with my limitations.

My dream is to help kids (and parents) with asthma learn to live and cope better with the symptoms of asthma and grow to be strong, independent adults. Kamp KiWA (Kids With Asthma) is a half-day camp for elementary-age children (about eight to eleven years old), who are newly diagnosed with asthma or are struggling with symptoms. The program will include tips I have personally learned over the years plus the National Asthma Guidelines and current medication, nutrition, and coping strategies. Additionally, alternative healing practices such as qigong and meditation will be included in this interactive, hands-on learning event. I look forward to helping every child breathe better.

There is only room for twelve students, so call Carol soon at 715-852-0303 to reserve your spot.

Kamp KiWA March 24, 2018
$150 per child (parent is encouraged to attend)
9:00 am to 2:00 pm (includes lunch and snacks)
Healing Choices Oasis, 2711 Pleasant St. Eau Claire, WI

As a licensed massage therapist focused on energy healing, and a registered respiratory therapist, Carol combines the best of Eastern and Western medicine. She opened her massage practice in 2001 offering AMMA Therapy (based in traditional Chinese medicine). Since then she has offered tai chi, qigong, and meditation. Her new adventures include FIT2Breathe! and Kamp KiWA. After forty-one years in the healthcare industry serving those struggling to breathe, she is passionate about offering programs that help children or adults in our community with COPD, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and asthma.