Swimming pools: an asthma risk?

Taking a dip in a pool is a great way to beat the summer heat, but for some of us the pool contains a toxic cocktail. The swimming pool has provided a haven from the heat for generations of Australians. Springing up in towns and backyards in the '60s, the pool offered a healthy alternative to polluted beaches and waterways. The smell of chlorine became a part of Aussie life, and swimming became part of the national psyche. But the very thing that makes pools healthy for many – chlorine-based disinfectant – makes it a potential health hazard for others. Chlorine-based disinfectants (hypochlorite, chlorine and chloroisocyanurates) inactivate a wide range of water-borne pathogens. But when these chemicals react with organic matter such as urine and sweat, chlorine releases a mixture of by-products that can irritate the eyes, skin and upper airways. Recent research by Belgian scientists published in Pediatrics has added to the theory that chlorine in swimming pools can increase the incidence of asthma, allergic rhinitis and hayfever in those who are vulnerable to allergies. The researchers examined 847 students between 13 and 18 years of age who had been swimming in indoor chlorinated and unchlorinated pools. They found that children who were allergy sensitive were more likely to develop asthma and other allergies if they swam in chlorinated pools. Those who spent more than 1000 hours in chlorinated pools were up to 14.9 times more likely to have asthma and 3.5 times more likely to have allergic rhinitis. Children who were not allergy sensitive or who had swum only in pools solely disinfected with copper or silver ion-based sanitisers...

How To Get Rid Of Hiccups

Hiccups often occur out of the blue and can quickly become bothersome, leading us to try all sorts of unusual and creative ideas to get rid of them. So, it comes as no surprise that discussions and theories on how to treat hiccups are abundant on the Internet. For this reason, it can make it difficult to separate the recommended methods from the old wives' tales. If you would like more detailed information on hiccups, their causes, symptoms and possible complications, read our article What Are Hiccups? What Causes Hiccups?. This article focuses specifically on how to get rid of hiccups. All of the methods listed are researched from public health authorities such as the NHS (UK) and CDC. In the majority of cases, hiccups resolve on their own within a few hours. Sometimes, however, they may persist and become a nuisance. Rarely, hiccups may require medical treatment. Hiccups are medically known as synchronous diaphragmatic flutter (SDF) or singultus. A hiccup occurs when the diaphragm suddenly contracts involuntarily, while at the same time the larynx (voice box) contracts too and the glottis closes, effective blocking the flow of air. Below are some tips for dealing with a bout of hiccups that you can do on your own: Breathing in and holding your breath can help alleviate hiccups. Breath in and hold your breath for about ten seconds, then breathe out slowly. Repeat three or four times. Then do it again twenty minutes later. Breathe into a paper bag (do not cover your head with the bag) Bring your knees to your chest and hug them for a couple of minutes Gargle with iced water Drink from...

Electronic Cigarettes Harm The Lungs

Electronic cigarettes, seen by many as a healthy alternative to tobacco smoking, do cause damage to the lungs, scientists from the University of Athens, Greece, explained at the European Respiratory Society's Annual Congress 2012, Vienna, on Sunday. Electronic cigarettes, also called e-cigarettes have also been marketed as effective smoking cessation devices. Professor Christina Gratziou and team set out to determine what the short-term effects of smoking with e-cigarettes might be on different individuals, including those with no known health problems, as well as existing smokers with and without lung conditions. They carried out experiments on 32 volunteers; of whom 8 were lifetime non-smokers and 24 were current regular smokers. Some of them had healthy lungs, while others lived with asthmaor COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). br> They were asked to use an electronic cigarette for 10 minutes, inhaling the vapors into their lungs. A spirometry test, as well as some others diagnostic procedures were used to measure their airway resistance. Airway resistance is used in respiratory physiology to measure the resistance of the respiratory tract to airflow coming in during inspiration (inhalation) and going out during expiration (exhalation). They found that using an e-cigarette caused an instant increase in airway resistance that lasted for 10 minutes in the majority of the participants. Below are some of their findings: Non-smokers - even among lifetimes non-smokers, using an e-cigarette for ten minutes raised their airway resistance to 206% from 182% (mean average); the researchers described this as a "significant increase".   Current regular smokers - among existing regular smokers, the spirometry tests revealed a significant rise in airway resistance to 220%, from 176% after using one e-cigarette for...

Asthma Risk In Kids Lowered By Having Pets

According to a new study, conducted by researchers at the University of California at San Francisco and presented by the 2012 General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology, children who live with dogs may have less of a risk of developing asthma. The researchers state that dust found in households with dogs may protect against the infection associated with a respiratory virus which has been linked to asthma in kids. Kei Fujimura, one of the authors of the study commented: "In this study we found that feeding mice house dust from homes that have dogs present protected them against a childhood airway infectious agent, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). RSV infection is common in infants and can manifest as mild to severe respiratory symptoms. Severe infection in infancy is associated with a higher risk of developing childhood asthma." During the trial, Fujimura and her team analyzed 3 different types of animals: Mice that were fed dust from houses with dogs before they were infected with RSV Mice that were infected with RSV without exposure to dust Mice in a control group that were not infected with RSV Fujumura commented: "Mice fed dust did not exhibit symptoms associated with RSV-mediated airway infection, such as inflammation and mucus production. The also possessed a distinct gastrointestinal bacterial composition compared to animals not fed dust." She explained that in the past, owning pets, especially dogs, had been linked to lower rates of asthma in kids. Fujimura and her team set out to show that the microbiome, or a collection of bacterial clusters found in homes with pets, such as cats or dogs, is extremely different than the...

Majority Of Smokers Do Not Appreciate The Risks

The majority of smokers do not appreciate the risks of their habit, according to new research from the NHS in England, which has launched a new Smokefree campaign to help smokers quit this New Year. The NHS commissioned research and consulting organisation YouGov to carry out the research. They surveyed 1,000 smoking adults in England between 8th and 12th December 2011. The results suggest that more than half of smokers underestimate the damage smoking does to their personal health and finances: 53% of smokers underestimate how many people die each year from smoking-related diseases by 70,000 or more (actual figures show that in England, over 80,000 deaths a year are smoking-related).   58% underestimate how many long-term smokers die early because of their habit (actual figures show half of all long-term smokers die prematurely from a smoking-related disease).   35% underestimate how many cancer deaths are caused by smoking (in England, estimates put this at nearly a third of all cancer deaths).   8% of smokers still don't believe smoking can seriously damage their health and lead to early death.   Smokers tend to understimate the financial cost of smoking. With a pack of 20 cigarettes now costing an average of £6.59, a smoker who smokes 20 a day spends over £2,400 a year on cigarettes. The survey showed on average, smokers under-estimate the annual cost of their habit by more than £600. Public Health Minister Anne Milton said: "Quitting smoking is the very best thing you can do to improve your health this New Year." "What's clear is that the majority of smokers want to quit smoking and free NHS help is...
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