It only matters what works for you.

Archive for the ‘asthma’ Category

How many ACES in your hand?

I love TED talks. They make it so easy to find out about new research, old research put together in new ways, or ideas that really make you think.

Today’s TED is about a new finding in how your past affects your future.

The basic premise is, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) affect your health over the course of your life.

The experiences they studied were:

  • Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse
  • Physical or emotional neglect
  • Divorce or separation
  • Incarceration
  • Parental substance abuse
  • Parental mental illness
  • Domestic violence

I don’t know about you but the list of people I know who didn’t experience at least one of those is pretty darn short.

They figured out that if you have 4 or more, then your risk for certain kinds of problems goes up a lot. My mind immediately jumped to risky behaviors. Of course people with difficult pasts are more likely to have issues, their experiences with drugs, eating disorders, smoking, and other things cause consequences. The thing is, the risk stays higher even when they control for those behaviors.

I’m sorry to hear she reports that this isn’t being pursued more aggressively, because they can interrupt the process if they do it early enough. It would be great if more people had heard about it.


Let’s talk D.

Vitamin D that is.

When I was a kid, we learned that Vitamin D is important for healthy bones. Now we know that just about every type of tissue in your body has receptors for Vitamin D. Which isn’t so much a vitamin as a hormone with many, many jobs.

Like all steroid hormones, vitamin D is involved in making hundreds of enzymes and proteins, which are crucial for preserving health and preventing disease. It has the ability to interact and affect more than 2,000 genes in the body. It enhances muscle strength and builds bone. It has anti-inflammatory effects and bolsters the immune system. It helps the action of insulin and has anti-cancer activity. This is why vitamin D deficiency has been linked with so many of the diseases of modern society. Because of its vast array of benefits, maintaining optimal levels of D is essential for your health

Vitamin D is so important to our bodies that Mother Nature figured out how we could make our own while we were going about our daily business of hunting and gathering. Under ideal conditions the human body can make 20,000 IU in just 30 minutes! (Valid for Caucasians, differing pigment levels change that time requirement.) With that kind of potential I’m not sure what made researchers set the RDA at a measly 600 IU, but more recent research sets the minimum guidelines at somewhere between 2000 and 8000 per day.

How much exactly you need depends. Your age, your weight, your skin pigmentation, and your personal biochemistry will all effect what you require. If you are older, your kidneys may not convert D as well as they used to. If you are overweight, your body will shuttle D to your fat cells for storage, so it can be hard to keep up with an efficient storage system.

Personally, I’m all for making it naturally, but in our modern world it’s more complicated than you’d think. For one thing, it’s currently frowned upon to run around naked. Vitamin D production requires sun on bare skin. It also matters a lot where you live. There are some complicated factors that basically say if you live north of DC then you can’t possibly get the right kind of sun for Vit. D production from September to March. You also don’t make D if you’re protecting your skin with sunscreen.

Now I’m very fair skinned. My mother and some of her sisters are natural red heads. I used to burn almost instantly. That changed when my nutrition got better. I’m not sure what caused the shift but I can now be in the sun a reasonable amount of time without burning to a crisp. I used to never leave the house without sunscreen and a hat. Ok, I still keep my silly sun hat in the car so I don’t get caught without. The point is, for years I never went out bare skinned into the sun.

These days, whenever there *is* sun around here, I throw caution to the wind and get naked (ok, take off my shirt and hike up my skirt) outdoors (behind my 8 foot privacy fence) to get the maximum skin exposure I possibly can.

See, I got a call from my doctors office and despite having taken 5k IU of good Vitamin D3 with food most of the winter, my D3 levels are STILL low. So I’ve upped my supplement levels per her instructions and have put ‘getting sun when there is sun’ at the very top of my to-do list.

That impacts my schedule a lot less than you’d think. The number of rainy, hazy, or overcast days here is depressing. (Ha ha, that isn’t just a vitamin D joke).

Have you had your vitamin D levels checked? We’re so worried about the possibility of skin cancer we’re neglecting all the amazing things the vitamin D is supposed to be getting done.

As always, look for a balance.

A call to parents of asthmatic children.

Is there anything more frightening than waking in the middle of the night to hear your child wheezing and choking and unable to breathe?


It’s being that child wheezing and choking and unable to breathe.

I’ve been asthmatic all my life. I experienced every horrific frightening minute to the fullest. When I was a child, albuterol hadn’t been invented yet. No Advair. No Singulair. Theophylline was the latest greatest thing, after about a week of building up in the system. They don’t even use that one any more.

No in home nebulizers. It was a trip to the emergency room every time.

So please, please carefully consider what I’m going to suggest next.

Put your child on a 2 week dairy free trial.

2 weeks is not enough time for your child to become seriously deficient in those supposedly all important nutrients in milk. It is enough time to see if your child has a casein allergy that is triggering the asthma and allergies.

I posted a blog about how I went dairy free. What I didn’t discuss was how much I wish I’d known years ago. If I hadn’t been sick then, how many social activities wouldn’t I have missed? Would I be as fat as I am now if I could have participated more in sports? If I could have run? Played harder without always worrying about breathing? Would I have missed less school? Gotten better grades?

If you think I’m playing on your worries and fears as a parent, you’re right. I am. Because I was there and my story could be your child’s story. Its not a bad story, but could it have been better? We’ll never know. But maybe your child can. Every parent wants the very best of everything for their child. Try this.

Yes, working around a food sensitivity can be complicated. The good news is, its never been easier. There are milk alternatives. Almond milk, rice milk, coconut milk, all right in the dairy case. (I think soy is evil, that’s a post for another day.) Coconut based yogurt. Coconut and rice based ice creams. Even dairy free cheese. Ingredients listed on each and every product at the grocery store.

If you have an asthmatic child, please, consider what I’m saying. Spend some time Googling other people’s stories. Figure out how you could implement it. It can’t hurt to try it and just think how wonderful it would be to NOT wake up some night frantic.

Your kid is worth it.

Where I win the lottery…

The ‘pick a random physician’ lottery that is.

Its very odd that the current state of medicine encourages us to look at a list and pick at random someone to share intimate personal details with. Who thought that was a good method? Yes, bean counters, I know.

As someone in a new town I don’t yet have a network of my own to get referrals from. No one to ask for opinions. I did a fair amount of searching online but there are many doctor review sites and very few actual reviews, and that’s only worth so much anyway. Some of you may have read my post angsting about my likely treatment, both personally and professionally.

I’m delighted to report all that worry was, as it so often is, for nothing. My new doc is great.

I’m not saying he’s an expert in all the areas I need support in. He’s not. The important thing is, he knows he isn’t. He actually admitted it. When’s the last time your physician admitted flat out not to know much about something you needed? Not often, I’m quite sure of that. I was happy to reply that I knew he was a primary care physician so I expected him to know something about an awful lot of  things, but it isn’t his job to be a specialist about everything.

He asked the expected questions about whether or not I’ve considered surgical options for weight loss, but when I said they weren’t the right choice for me he didn’t try to push. I get the feeling its on the list of standard questions they need to ask rather than something he felt like I should choose.

We discussed my blood tests showing a reverse T3 thyroid issue, which is outside of his training. He can’t help me, but he isn’t going to obstruct me either, which outside-the-box people often see. He was happy to refill my existing prescription and when he asked to rerun my TSH for my records, he was happy to order the non-standard tests that will let me figure out if I’m getting anywhere.

Overall I found him friendly, patient, and respectful. Things you’d expect to find regularly in a physician but don’t really find that often.

The office was also respectful in subtle ways. The instructions for everything are clearly posted. The office staff was all extremely pleasant as was the intake nurse. The scale is an electronic model that goes up to 400 lbs so they can honestly weigh patients of all sizes. The front waiting area had a mix of armed and armless chairs. The ‘put your stuff on’ chair in my treatment room was armless. I don’t know if its planning or serendipity, but it was welcoming either way.

I knew early on in the appointment that it was going to go well though. For whatever reason, his BS was actually in physics. Physicists turn up in the oddest places having nothing at all to do with physics. When I meet one, it almost always works well. Like the time I dated a physicist turned software engineer and married him.

Are you sensitive?

There are 2 terms out there that could use a little clarification.

Sensitivity, vs Allergy.

There are several types of immune reactions. I’m only going to address 3. IgE, IgG, and IgA.

IgE is what your doctor thinks an allergy is. It is an immediate and strong reaction to a food or other stimulus. Think hives, stomach cramps, wheezing, or the worst of all, anaphylaxis. This is what most allergy tests are actually testing for.

IgG reactions take longer to show up. The reactions can be severe or much more subtle. Many food problems are actually this kind of reaction.

IgA is another slow reaction and is often linked to leaky gut. It causes bizarre reactions to seemingly unconnected things. Like asthma in reaction to dairy foods 2 days later.

If you are talking to a physician the word ‘allergy’ is reserved for IgE. This is also the reason there have recently been a lot of news articles about how allergies are much more uncommon than people would like to believe. They are using a very clinical and narrow definition of ‘allergy’.

If you have an IgG or IgA reaction to something, then technically you have a ‘sensitivity’. Unfortunately, there is a strong public feeling that a ‘sensitivity’ probably isn’t really the problem that an ‘allergy’ is, and you’re probably just making a fuss about nothing. It is true that these, to the best of my ability to research, do not cause anaphylaxis, but hives are hives and vomiting is vomiting and it doesn’t really matter what caused them, you’re miserable either way.

So if you are speaking to a physician or other scientific professional, by all means, use the terms according to their definitions. If you are speaking to a food service professional (read waitstaff) I highly recommend using the more idiomatically appropriate term ‘allergy’ because they are much more likely to take you seriously and you are less likely to wind up with the aforementioned hives.