Tag Archives: anaphylaxis

Straight, No Chaser: What Would You Do If Your Tongue Suddenly Swelled? Learn About Angioedema

angioedema

Here at Straight, No Chaser, we want you to know how to prevent disease and injury because that’s a lot easier than the alternative. However, if and when the time comes, you should also have a few tools in your arsenal to stave off a life-threatening situation. One of the more scary examples of needing help is acute swelling of your tongue, sometimes so much so that your airway appears as if it will be blocked.

The most common cause of acute tongue, lip or throat swelling is called angioedema. This is an allergic reaction and occurs in two varieties.

  • A life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) sometimes occurs shortly after an exposure to substance such as medicine, bee or other insect stings or food. It can throw your entire body into a state of shock, including involvement of multiple parts of the body. This can include massive tongue swelling, wheezing, low blood pressure resulting in blackouts and, of course, the rash typified by hives (urticaria).
  • Sometimes lip, tongue and/or throat swelling may be the only symptoms.  This is more typical of a delayed reaction to certain medications, such as types of blood pressure medications (ACE inhibitors and calcium channel blockers), estrogen and the class of pain medication called NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen)

Angioedema-5

With any luck, you would already know you’re at risk for this condition, and your physician may have prompted you to wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace. In these cases, your physician may have also given you medicines and instruction on how to take them in the event you feel as if your tongue is swelling and/or your throat is closing. These medicines would include epinephrine for injection, steroids and antihistamines such as Benadryl. As you dial 911 (my recommendation) or make your way to the nearest hospital, taking any or all of these medications could be life-saving. By the way, those are among the same medicines you’ll be treated with upon arrival to the emergency room. In severe cases, you may need to be intubated (i.e. have a breathing tube placed) to maintain some opening of the airway.

Angioedema_250x

If the swelling is (or assumed to be) due to any form of medication, symptoms will improve a few days after stopping it. If the swelling in this instance becomes severe enough, treatment may resemble that of the life-threatening variety.

There are few things better than cheating death. If you’re at risk, carry that injectable epinephrine (e.g. an Epi-pen). If you’re affected, take some Benadryl and/or steroids if you’ve been taught what dose to take, and most importantly, don’t wait to see if things improve. Get evaluated, get treated and get better!

I welcome your questions and comments.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Copyright © 2018 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Comments Off on Straight, No Chaser: What Would You Do If Your Tongue Suddenly Swelled? Learn About Angioedema

Filed under Endocrine/Metabolic, Head/Eyes/Ears/Nose/Throat, Skin/Dermatology

Straight, No Chaser: Food Allergies

I often say whatever you put in your mouth either helps or harms you. Today, we discuss food allergies, which sounds like a cruel trick or something out of a horror movie, but unfortunately, they’re all too real. Let’s address questions on the topic.

 food.allergies.101.cnn.640x480

Why do I get allergies anyway?

Food and other types of allergies result from your body mistaking harmless substances for potential threats. The resulting immune response is an attempt to defeat that threat. You are caught in the crossfire, and you exhibit symptoms as a result.

Why do I get allergies to foods I’ve eaten before without a problem?

In many instances, the first time you’re exposed to a certain new food, your body is only primed, and you won’t experience symptoms. A subsequent exposure will prompt the full allergic response.

Is there a way to know if I’m at risk?

Food allergies are more likely in those who have a family history of allergies, asthma or eczema. Take a minute today and ask your parents if they have any allergies to foods or medicines. It’s good to be aware.

How do I know my symptoms are an allergic reaction?

We’ll discuss symptoms shortly, but one big clue is the timing of symptoms. Allergic reactions due to food take place within minutes to a few hours after exposure. It’s not as important for you to know the symptoms as to realize that you’re not well and that evaluation is needed.

 food allergy sx

So what are the symptoms?

Let’s start with the life-threatening considerations. If you have any shortness of breath, mental status changes (e.g. confusion, severe dizziness) or sensation that your throat is closing, get to an emergency room as soon as possible. Other symptoms may include the following.

  • Itching or swelling of your mouth or the tissues between your mouth and throat
  • Hives, wheals, or an eruption of your eczema
  • Abdominal pain or cramping
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Drop in your blood pressure

food allergy touch

Can you get food allergies from touching foods?

Yes. As an example, those with peanut allergies can have an allergic reaction from breathing in peanut residue, touching peanuts or using skin products that contain peanuts.

 food-allergies

Which foods are most likely to cause allergies?

Here is a partial list of foods commonly causing food allergies.

  • Cow’s mik
  • Eggs
  • Fish/shellfish
  • Peanuts/tree nuts
  • Soy
  • Wheat

Cow’s milk? Is that the same as lactose intolerance? 

No. That’s a different consideration and an upcoming post.

What about treatment?

That’s tomorrow’s post. Obviously knowledge and avoidance are key.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Copyright © 2018 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Comments Off on Straight, No Chaser: Food Allergies

Filed under Diet and Nutrition, Endocrine/Metabolic, Hematology & Oncology/Blood Disorders/Cancer

Straight, No Chaser: X-Ray Safety

the.incredible.hulk.033108

After the question of “Can I get an x-ray,” the next most common question I get (which should be the first) regarding x-rays is “Do I need this x-ray?” The answer is not just based on the presence or absence of a medical indication but the medical indication relative to the risk. I’ll provide examples of that consideration shortly. The point of this Straight, No Chaser is to get you to more frequently think of the risks of irradiating your body parts. After all, inappropriate doses of radiation have a much greater chance of contributing to cancer than turning you into a superhero.

Let’s start by getting this off the table: x-rays are safe when used appropriately and with care during each case. Radiologists and x-ray technologists are trained to toe the line between inadequate production of x-rays and overexposure such that patients are placed at risk. Additionally, your physicians consider the risk-benefit ratio with each study ordered. This is why instances exist when your physician (especially emergency physicians) may advise against having x-rays done.

X-Ray-Microwave-Sign-OCI-6685-SPANISH_600

What exactly are the risks of x-rays and other medical imaging studies?

It’s about the risks of radiation and the potential contribution to cancer. You accept these risks everyday. Some of you tan, play golf, surf and otherwise expose yourself to the sun. It’s the cumulative exposure that poses risks, and these risks are miniscule. That said, there are circumstances in which the risks become pronounced, such as irradiation during pregnancy, in children or due to dye materials (called contrast media) such as barium or iodine used to enhance development of the film during special x-ray studies.

In some people, the injection of a contrast medium can cause the following side effects:

  • A feeling of warmth or flushing
  • A metallic taste in the mouth
  • Hives
  • Itching
  • light-headedness
  • Nausea
  • Severely low blood pressure and shock (anaphylaxis, due to an allergic reaction)
  • Cardiac arrest

How much radiation is involved in these studies?

The radiation exposure from one chest x-ray is roughly equivalent to the amount of radiation exposure you obtain from natural surroundings in 10 days.

 Preg_xray-on-candysporks

Aren’t x-rays dangerous during pregnancy?

One of the rules of emergency medicine is we don’t focus on potential side effects when confronted with a defined life threat. The issue of the effect of x-rays on an unborn fetus is secondary to the need to treat the mother. In other words, the best way to protect the fetus is to protect the mother. Even so, the theoretical risk exists, and your physician will take steps to minimize the risk if possible. This may occur by choosing another test (such as an ultrasound) that doesn’t involve radiation. The vast majority of medical x-rays do not pose a critical risk to a developing child. In fact, x-rays of the head, arms, legs and chest do not usually expose the baby directly to radiation.

Regarding standard x-ray examinations of the abdomen, they are not likely to pose a serious risk to the child. Some abdominal and pelvic studies such as CT, nuclear medicine scans and interventional radiologic studies deliver greater amounts of radiation to a developing pregnancy.

 xray pregnant

What can I do to minimize risks?

I’ll offer two simple recommendations that will help reduce your risk. In both of these instances, alternative evaluation and treatment options might be available that can provide the desired level of care.

  • Work with your physician in obtaining x-rays. The instances when you receive x-rays when your physician suggests they are not necessary are not in your best interest.
  • Inform the radiologist that you are or might be pregnant.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Copyright © 2017 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

1 Comment

Filed under General Health and Wellness, Health Prevention

Straight, No Chaser: Food Allergies

I often say whatever you put in your mouth either helps or harms you. Today, we discuss food allergies, which sound like a cruel trick or something out of a horror movie, but unfortunately, they’re all too real. Let’s address questions on the topic.

 food.allergies.101.cnn.640x480

Why do I get allergies anyway?

Food and other types of allergies result from your body mistaking harmless substances for potential threats. The resulting immune response is an attempt to defeat that threat. You are caught in the crossfire, and you exhibit symptoms as a result.

Why do I get allergies to foods I’ve eaten before without a problem?

In many instances, the first time you’re exposed to a certain new food, your body is only primed, and you won’t experience symptoms. A subsequent exposure will prompt the full allergic response.

Is there a way to know if I’m at risk?

Food allergies are more likely in those who have a family history of allergies, asthma or eczema. Take a minute today and ask your parents if they have any allergies to foods or medicines. It’s good to be aware.

How do I know my symptoms are an allergic reaction?

We’ll discuss symptoms shortly, but one big clue is the timing of symptoms. Allergic reactions due to food take place within minutes to a few hours after exposure. It’s not as important for you to know the symptoms as to realize that you’re not well and that evaluation is needed.

 food allergy sx

So what are the symptoms?

Let’s start with the life-threatening considerations. If you have any shortness of breath, mental status changes (e.g. confusion, severe dizziness) or sensation that your throat is closing, get to an emergency room as soon as possible. Other symptoms may include the following.

  • Itching or swelling of your mouth or the tissues between your mouth and throat
  • Hives, wheals, or an eruption of your eczema
  • Abdominal pain or cramping
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Drop in your blood pressure

food allergy touch

Can you get food allergies from touching foods?

Yes. As an example, those with peanut allergies can have an allergic reaction from breathing in peanut residue, touching peanuts or using skin products that contain peanuts.

 food-allergies

Which foods are most likely to cause allergies?

Here is a partial list of foods commonly causing food allergies.

  • Cow’s mik
  • Eggs
  • Fish/shellfish
  • Peanuts/tree nuts
  • Soy
  • Wheat

Cow’s milk? Is that the same as lactose intolerance? 

No. That’s a different consideration and an upcoming post.

What about treatment?

That’s tomorrow’s post. Obviously knowledge and avoidance are key.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Copyright © 2017 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Comments Off on Straight, No Chaser: Food Allergies

Filed under Diet and Nutrition, Endocrine/Metabolic, Hematology & Oncology/Blood Disorders/Cancer

Straight, No Chaser: Food Allergies

I often say whatever you put in your mouth either helps or harms you. Today, we discuss food allergies, which sound like a cruel trick or something out of a horror movie, but unfortunately, they’re all too real. Let’s address questions on the topic.

 food.allergies.101.cnn.640x480

Why do I get allergies anyway?

Food and other types of allergies result from your body mistaking harmless substances for potential threats. The resulting immune response is an attempt to defeat that threat. You are caught in the crossfire, and you exhibit symptoms as a result.

Why do I get allergies to foods I’ve eaten before without a problem?

In many instances, the first time you’re exposed to a certain new food, your body is only primed, and you won’t experience symptoms. A subsequent exposure will prompt the full allergic response.

Is there a way to know if I’m at risk?

Food allergies are more likely in those who have a family history of allergies, asthma or eczema. Take a minute today and ask your parents if they have any allergies to foods or medicines. It’s good to be aware.

How do I know my symptoms are an allergic reaction?

We’ll discuss symptoms shortly, but one big clue is the timing of symptoms. Allergic reactions due to food take place within minutes to a few hours after exposure. It’s not as important for you to know the symptoms as to realize that you’re not well and that evaluation is needed.

 food allergy sx

So what are the symptoms?

Let’s start with the life-threatening considerations. If you have any shortness of breath, mental status changes (e.g. confusion, severe dizziness) or sensation that your throat is closing, get to an emergency room as soon as possible. Other symptoms may include the following.

  • Itching or swelling of your mouth or the tissues between your mouth and throat
  • Hives, wheals, or an eruption of your eczema
  • Abdominal pain or cramping
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Drop in your blood pressure

food allergy touch

Can you get food allergies from touching foods?

Yes. As an example, those with peanut allergies can have an allergic reaction from breathing in peanut residue, touching peanuts or using skin products that contain peanuts.

 food-allergies

Which foods are most likely to cause allergies?

Here is a partial list of foods commonly causing food allergies.

  • Cow’s mik
  • Eggs
  • Fish/shellfish
  • Peanuts/tree nuts
  • Soy
  • Wheat

Cow’s milk? Is that the same as lactose intolerance? 

No. That’s a different consideration and an upcoming post.

What about treatment?

That’s tomorrow’s post. Obviously knowledge and avoidance are key.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at jeffreysterlingbooks.com, iTunes, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Copyright © 2016 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Comments Off on Straight, No Chaser: Food Allergies

Filed under Diet and Nutrition, Endocrine/Metabolic, Environmental, Hematology & Oncology/Blood Disorders/Cancer

Straight, No Chaser: Food Allergies

This week’s Straight, No Chaser posts will focus on your food. Today, we begin with food allergies, which sound like a cruel trick or something out of a horror movie, but unfortunately, they’re all too real. We’ve discussed seasonal allergies and allergic reactions before, but food allergies warrant addressing additional questions you’ve had.

 food.allergies.101.cnn.640x480

Why do I get allergies anyway?

Food and other types of allergies result from your body mistaking harmless substances for potential threats. The resulting immune response is an attempt to defeat that threat. You are caught in the crossfire, and you exhibit symptoms as a result.

Why do I get allergies to foods I’ve eaten before without a problem?

In many instances, the first time you’re exposed to a certain new food, your body is only primed, and you won’t experience symptoms. A subsequent exposure will prompt the full allergic response.

Is there a way to know if I’m at risk?

Food allergies are more likely in those who have a family history of allergies, asthma or eczema. Take a minute today and ask your parents if they have any allergies to foods or medicines. It’s good to be aware.

How do I know my symptoms are an allergic reaction?

We’ll discuss symptoms shortly, but one big clue is the timing of symptoms. Allergic reactions due to food take place within minutes to a few hours after exposure. It’s not as important for you to know the symptoms as to realize that you’re not well and that evaluation is needed.

 food allergy sx

So what are the symptoms?

Let’s start with the life-threatening considerations. If you have any shortness of breath, mental status changes (e.g. confusion, severe dizziness) or sensation that your throat is closing, get to an emergency room as soon as possible. Other symptoms may include the following.

  • Itching or swelling of your mouth or the tissues between your mouth and throat
  • Hives, wheals, or an eruption of your eczema
  • Abdominal pain or cramping
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Drop in your blood pressure

food allergy touch

Can you get food allergies from touching foods?

Yes. As an example, those with peanut allergies can have an allergic reaction from breathing in peanut residue, touching peanuts or using skin products that contain peanuts.

 food-allergies

Which foods are most likely to cause allergies?

Here is a partial list of foods commonly causing food allergies.

  • Cow’s mik
  • Eggs
  • Fish/shellfish
  • Peanuts/tree nuts
  • Soy
  • Wheat

Cow’s milk? Is that the same as lactose intolerance? 

No. That’s a different consideration and an upcoming post.

What about treatment?

That’s tomorrow’s post. Obviously knowledge and avoidance are key.

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at jeffreysterlingbooks.com, iTunes, AmazonBarnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook @ SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Copyright © 2015 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Comments Off on Straight, No Chaser: Food Allergies

Filed under Diet and Nutrition, Endocrine/Metabolic, Environmental, Hematology & Oncology/Blood Disorders/Cancer

Straight, No Chaser: X-Ray Safety

the.incredible.hulk.033108

After the question of “Can I get an x-ray,” the next most common question I get (which should be the first) regarding x-rays is “Do I need this x-ray?” The answer is not just based on the presence or absence of a medical indication but the medical indication relative to the risk. I’ll provide examples of that consideration shortly. The point of this Straight, No Chaser is to get you to more frequently think of the risks of irradiating your body parts. After all, inappropriate doses of radiation have a much greater chance of contributing to cancer than turning you into a superhero.

Let’s start by getting this off the table: x-rays are safe when used appropriately and with care during each case. Radiologists and x-ray technologists are trained to toe the line between inadequate production of x-rays and overexposure such that patients are placed at risk. Additionally, your physicians consider the risk-benefit ratio with each study ordered. This is why instances exist when your physician (especially emergency physicians) may advise against having x-rays done.

X-Ray-Microwave-Sign-OCI-6685-SPANISH_600

What exactly are the risks of x-rays and other medical imaging studies?

It’s about the risks of radiation and the potential contribution to cancer. You accept these risks everyday. Some of you tan, play golf, surf and otherwise expose yourself to the sun. It’s the cumulative exposure that poses risks, and these risks are miniscule. That said, there are circumstances in which the risks become pronounced, such as irradiation during pregnancy, in children or due to dye materials (called contrast media) such as barium or iodine used to enhance development of the film during special x-ray studies.

In some people, the injection of a contrast medium can cause the following side effects:

  • A feeling of warmth or flushing
  • A metallic taste in the mouth
  • Hives
  • Itching
  • Lightheadedness
  • Nausea
  • Severely low blood pressure and shock (anaphylaxis, due to an allergic reaction)
  • Cardiac arrest

How much radiation is involved in these studies?

The radiation exposure from one chest x-ray is roughly equivalent to the amount of radiation exposure you obtain from natural surroundings in 10 days.

 Preg_xray-on-candysporks

Aren’t x-rays dangerous during pregnancy?

One of the rules of emergency medicine is we don’t focus on potential side effects when confronted with a defined life threat. The issue of the effect of x-rays on an unborn fetus is secondary to the need to treat the mother. In other words, the best way to protect the fetus is to protect the mother. Even so, the theoretical risk exists, and your physician will take steps to minimize the risk if possible. This may occur by choosing another test (such as an ultrasound) that doesn’t involve radiation. The vast majority of medical x-rays do not pose a critical risk to a developing child. In fact, x-rays of the head, arms, legs and chest do not usually expose the baby directly to radiation.

Regarding standard x-ray examinations of the abdomen, they are not likely to pose a serious risk to the child. Some abdominal and pelvic studies such as CT, nuclear medicine scans and interventional radiologic studies deliver greater amounts of radiation to a developing pregnancy.

 xray pregnant

What can I do to minimize risks?

I’ll offer two simple recommendations that will help reduce your risk. In both of these instances, alternative evaluation and treatment options might be available that can provide the desired level of care.

  • Work with your physician in obtaining x-rays. The instances when you receive x-rays when your physician suggests they are not necessary are not in your best interest.
  • Inform the radiologist that you are or might be pregnant.

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at jeffreysterlingbooks.com, iTunes, AmazonBarnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook @ SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Copyright © 2015 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

3 Comments

Filed under General Health and Wellness, Health Prevention

Straight, No Chaser: X-Ray Safety

the.incredible.hulk.033108

After the question of “Can I get an x-ray,” the next most common question I get (which should be the first) regarding x-rays is “Do I need this x-ray?” The answer is not just based on the presence or absence of a medical indication but the medical indication relative to the risk. I’ll provide examples of that consideration shortly. The point of this Straight, No Chaser is to get you to more frequently think of the risks of irradiating your body parts. After all, inappropriate doses of radiation have a much greater chance of contributing to cancer than turning you into a superhero.

Let’s start by getting this off the table: x-rays are safe when used appropriately and with care during each case. Radiologists and x-ray technologists are trained to toe the line between inadequate production of x-rays and overexposure such that patients are placed at risk. Additionally, your physicians consider the risk-benefit ratio with each study ordered. This is why instances exist when your physician (especially emergency physicians) may advise against having x-rays done.

X-Ray-Microwave-Sign-OCI-6685-SPANISH_600

What exactly are the risks of x-rays and other medical imaging studies?

It’s about the risks of radiation and the potential contribution to cancer. You accept these risks everyday. Some of you tan, play golf, surf and otherwise expose yourself to the sun. It’s the cumulative exposure that poses risks, and these risks are miniscule. That said, there are circumstances in which the risks become pronounced, such as irradiation during pregnancy, in children or due to dye materials (called contrast media) such as barium or iodine used to enhance development of the film during special x-ray studies.

In some people, the injection of a contrast medium can cause the following side effects:

  • A feeling of warmth or flushing
  • A metallic taste in the mouth
  • Hives
  • Itching
  • Lightheadedness
  • Nausea
  • Severely low blood pressure and shock (anaphylaxis, due to an allergic reaction)
  • Cardiac arrest

How much radiation is involved in these studies?

The radiation exposure from one chest x-ray is roughly equivalent to the amount of radiation exposure you obtain from natural surroundings in 10 days.

 Preg_xray-on-candysporks

Aren’t x-rays dangerous during pregnancy?

One of the rules of emergency medicine is we don’t focus on potential side effects when confronted with a defined life threat. The issue of the effect of x-rays on an unborn fetus is secondary to the need to treat the mother. In other words, the best way to protect the fetus is to protect the mother. Even so, the theoretical risk exists, and your physician will take steps to minimize the risk if possible. This may occur by choosing another test (such as an ultrasound) that doesn’t involve radiation. The vast majority of medical x-rays do not pose a critical risk to a developing child. In fact, x-rays of the head, arms, legs and chest do not usually expose the baby directly to radiation.

Regarding standard x-ray examinations of the abdomen, they are not likely to pose a serious risk to the child. Some abdominal and pelvic studies such as CT, nuclear medicine scans and interventional radiologic studies deliver greater amounts of radiation to a developing pregnancy.

 xray pregnant

What can I do to minimize risks?

I’ll offer two simple recommendations that will help reduce your risk. In both of these instances, alternative evaluation and treatment options might be available that can provide the desired level of care.

  • Work with your physician in obtaining x-rays. The instances when you receive x-rays when your physician suggests they are not necessary are not in your best interest.
  • Inform the radiologist that you are or might be pregnant.

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what 844-SMA-TALK and http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress. We are also on Facebook at SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Comments Off on Straight, No Chaser: X-Ray Safety

Filed under General Health and Wellness

Straight, No Chaser: Food Allergies

Food allergies sound like a cruel trick or something out of a horror movie, but unfortunately, they’re all too real. We’ve discussed seasonal allergies and allergic reactions before, but food allergies warrant addressing additional questions you’ve had.

 food.allergies.101.cnn.640x480

Why do I get allergies anyway?

Food and other types of allergies result from your body mistaking harmless substances for potential threats. The resulting immune response is an attempt to defeat that threat. You are caught in the crossfire, and you exhibit symptoms as a result.

Why do I get allergies to foods I’ve eaten before without a problem?

In many instances, the first time you’re exposed to a certain new food, your body is only primed, and you won’t experience symptoms. A subsequent exposure will prompt the full allergic response.

Is there a way to know if I’m at risk?

Food allergies are more likely in those who have a family history of allergies, asthma or eczema. Take a minute today and ask your parents if they have any allergies to foods or medicines. It’s good to be aware.

How do I know my symptoms are an allergic reaction?

We’ll discuss symptoms shortly, but one big clue is the timing of symptoms. Allergic reactions due to food take place within minutes to a few hours after exposure. It’s not as important for you to know the symptoms as to realize that you’re not well and that evaluation is needed.

 food allergy sx

So what are the symptoms?

Let’s start with the life-threatening considerations. If you have any shortness of breath, mental status changes (e.g. confusion, severe dizziness) or sensation that your throat is closing, get to an emergency room as soon as possible. Other symptoms may include the following.

  • Itching or swelling of your mouth or the tissues between your mouth and throat
  • Hives, wheals, or an eruption of your eczema
  • Abdominal pain or cramping
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Drop in your blood pressure

food allergy touch

Can you get food allergies from touching foods?

Yes. As an example, those with peanut allergies can have an allergic reaction from breathing in peanut residue, touching peanuts or using skin products that contain peanuts.

 food-allergies

Which foods are most likely to cause allergies?

Here is a partial list of foods commonly causing food allergies.

  • Cow’s mik
  • Eggs
  • Fish/shellfish
  • Peanuts/tree nuts
  • Soy
  • Wheat

Cow’s milk? Is that the same as lactose intolerance?

No. That’s a different consideration.

What about treatment?

That’s a different post. Obviously knowledge and avoidance are key.

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Straight, No Chaser: What Would You Do If Your Tongue Suddenly Swelled? Learn About Angioedema

angioedema

Here at Straight, No Chaser, we want you to know how to prevent disease and injury because that’s a lot easier than the alternative. However, if and when the time comes, you should also have a few tools in your arsenal to stave off a life-threatening situation. One of the more scary examples of needing help is acute swelling of your tongue, sometimes so much so that your airway appears as if it will be blocked.

The most common cause of acute tongue, lip or throat swelling is called angioedema. This is an allergic reaction and occurs in two varieties.

  • A life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) sometimes occurs shortly after an exposure to substance such as medicine, bee or other insect stings or food. It can throw your entire body into a state of shock, including involvement of multiple parts of the body. This can include massive tongue swelling, wheezing, low blood pressure resulting in blackouts and, of course, the rash typified by hives (urticaria).
  • Sometimes lip, tongue and/or throat swelling may be the only symptoms.  This is more typical of a delayed reaction to certain medications, such as types of blood pressure medications (ACE inhibitors and calcium channel blockers), estrogen and the class of pain medication called NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen)

Angioedema-5

With any luck, you would already know you’re at risk for this condition, and your physician may have prompted you to wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace. In these cases, your physician may have also given you medicines and instruction on how to take them in the event you feel as if your tongue is swelling and/or your throat is closing. These medicines would include epinephrine for injection, steroids and antihistamines such as Benadryl. As you dial 911 (my recommendation) or make your way to the nearest hospital, taking any or all of these medications could be life-saving. By the way, those are the among the same medicines you’ll be treated with upon arrival to the emergency room. In severe cases, you may need to be intubated (i.e. have a breathing tube placed) to maintain some opening of the airway.

Angioedema_250x

If the swelling is (or assumed to be) due to any form of medication, symptoms will improve a few days after stopping it. If the swelling in this instance becomes severe enough, treatment may resemble that of the life-threatening variety.

There are few things better than cheating death. If you’re at risk, carry that injectable epinephrine (e.g. an Epi-pen). If you’re affected, take some Benadryl and/or steroids if you’ve been taught what dose to take, and most importantly, don’t wait to see if things improve. Get evaluated, get treated and get better!

I welcome your questions and comments.

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress. We are also on Facebook at SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

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Filed under Endocrine/Metabolic, Head/Eyes/Ears/Nose/Throat, Skin/Dermatology