Stories from people who have teetered on the brink of death or died for several minutes before they were brought back to life, yet can recount vivid images, sounds and dreams they experienced in those moments are almost folklore. But can near-death experiences be scientifically proven? Doctors hypothesize that people enter a dream-like state, almost like rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, when the body is shutting down. This physiological change may trigger something that creates the near-death experience. “I think it really shows that we just don’t understand how the brain works on all its different levels,” Dr. Lisa comments.
Twenty percent of Americans suffer from allergies, which are often inherited. Chances are, you’re allergic to substances you don’t even know about, but how can you tell? With more than 1,000 allergens triggering reactions, is there any relief in sight? Allergen specialist Dr. Warner Carr explains that the key to combating allergies is proper diagnosis.
Anatomy of an Allergy
An allergy is an abnormal response of an individual’s immune system to a usually harmless substance in the environment such as pollen, animal dander, mold, etc. If the substance causes a reaction, then it is deemed an allergen to that individual. Once it comes into contact with the body, the allergen sets off a chain of events; it triggers the immune system to go into overdrive and produce an abundance of histamine, which attaches to receptors in blood vessels, which causes them to enlarge. Like a domino effect, the enlarged vessels create the redness, swelling, itching and changes in secretions that cause discomfort and irritation. However, when the histamine receptors are blocked with an antihistamine, then these symptoms subside.
Benadryl, Claritin, Zyrtec, Clarinex and Allegra are all antihistamines.
Jennifer, 43, suffered allergies her entire life, but never had tests done to uncover the source of her reactions. Dr. Carr draws a grid on Jennifer’s back and systematically scratches her skin with a minute amount of individual substances like mold, pollen, grasses, animal secretions and food. Her skin reacts markedly to the substances she’s allergic to and remains unaffected by those she’s not. Dr. Carr emphasizes that the scratch test is far superior to a blood test because it checks the entire biological system and the results are immediate. “And it gives our patients a visual, which is really helpful,” he adds.
Dr. Carr tells Jennifer that she is allergic to dust mites, cats, dogs, feathers, horses, weeds and molds, but offers that she can minimize their effects through environmental control and medications.
1. Environmental Control
• Remove clutter, especially from the bedroom
• Wash your hair before you go to bed
• Wash bed sheets in hot water at least once a week
• Get dust covers for the pillows and the mattress
• Limit the number of household plants
• Vacuum at least once a week
• Dust mites love stuffed animals almost as much as your kids do, so put them in the freezer once a week reduce the number of mites
Dr. Carr explains that medicines will treat the symptoms of allergies but won’t cure them. He encourages the use of targeted therapy, which he defines as topical antihistamines and nasal sprays rather than oral antihistamines. The problem with oral antihistamines is that when taken as a pill, they affect the entire body instead of just the intended areas, and often cause unnecessary sedation. Dr. Carr points out, “We don’t need to treat the brain!” Steroids are another option, but they’re powerful drugs and have side effects if taken over a long period of time. “I really practice what I preach,” Dr. Carr concludes, “targeted therapy is the way to go.”
• Itchy, watery eyes
• Itchy throat
• Runny nose
• Grasses and weeds
• Animal dander, urine and saliva
• Dust mites
Sarah, 30, has had several pregnancies, the last of which with quintuplets! She loves her bundles of joy but hates the stretched skin on her stomach that refuses to snap back. “I just want to look like I did on my wedding day!” she says. Dr. Ordon shows Sarah what a tummy tuck would entail and demonstrates that he would cut her excess skin, sew her abdominal muscles together and liposuction excess fat. He surprises her with the promise of a free tummy tuck and Sarah exclaims, “Oh my gosh, thank you! This is wonderful!”
Quick – 75 percent of Americans suffer from this disease and most don’t even know it. Stumped? The answer is periodontal gum disease. Dr. Jim says, “You don’t have to floss all your teeth, just the ones you want to keep!”