SMART HEALTH - Achoo! Bless you
Diagnosing, testing, and treating allergies
With an estimated 40 percent of Kentuckians suffering seasonal allergies, learn what you can do to keep allergies from ruining your springtime fun.
Are these allergy symptoms?
Your primary care doctor can help you begin to determine if you have allergies, or if you are suffering from a cold. Your physician will check your ears, eyes, throat, and nose for redness and irritation. The physician may also test your breathing to determine if you are having trouble exhaling from your lungs.
If you are diagnosed with allergies, but your doctor believes your allergies are more severe than what can be managed by simple over-the-counter medications, you may be referred to an allergy specialist, who will ask more specific questions.
What does allergy testing involve?
Your allergy specialist may recommend you be tested for common airborne allergens, including plant pollens, dust mites, cockroach, animal dander, and molds. If symptoms suggest, tests can also be used to determine common food allergies like shellfish, dairy products, eggs, wheat, and peanuts. Testing for some medications—such as penicillin—can be done when necessary.
The main way to test for allergies is through skin tests, whereby small drops of allergen are placed on or just below the outer layer of skin. In some cases, a blood test can be used to determine allergies. In both tests, redness, swelling, and itching of the site will begin within 20 minutes in the area of the allergen that triggers your allergies.
How to control allergies?
There are three main ways to control allergies—avoiding your triggers, medication, and allergy shots. Numerous medications are available both over-the-counter and by prescription, including oral medications, eye drops, and sinus sprays. For more serious conditions, regularly scheduled allergy shots can be administered. Your allergies and symptoms will determine which treatment option is best for you.
Allergies in Kentucky are about as common as horses, but they do not have to limit your ability to enjoy the spring and be outdoors. Talk with your physician about the best way to keep pesky allergies from ruining your plans.
Dr. Beth Miller is director of the University of Kentucky Asthma, Allergy and Sinus Clinics and division chief of Allergy and Immunology.
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What do I do with my 401(k)?
Left your job recently or have “old” 401(k) plans sitting somewhere? Generally there are four options for this investment. But before making any changes, ask questions or talk with a financial consultant to determine which option is best for you:
ROLLOVER TO AN IRA You might consider a rollover to a new or existing IRA. More of your investments with one firm may not only be more convenient (one statement, one advisor, etc.) but could reduce brokerage fees. A rollover to an IRA could also offer more diverse investment options than your employer’s plan. The downside includes paperwork and strict rules to ensure a qualified IRS transfer; serious penalties may apply, or there could be other charges on funds once rolled over.
ROLLOVER TO A NEW 401(K) If you are a participant in your new employer’s plan, and the plan permits, you may be able to bring your old 401(k) with you. Again, the major benefit to this option is convenience.
KEEP YOUR 401(K) WITH OLD EMPLOYER If your plan permits, you might consider leaving your investment as is. The benefit? If it’s not broke, why fix it?
CASH OUT It may sound nice, but serious taxes and penalties can apply if specific conditions are not met, making this the least recommended option.
Sara Peak is a freelance writer with expertise in finance and wealth management. Have a money question? E-mail us at email@example.com.
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Following are wellness tips recently posted by a few of our 145 members on the Kentucky Living Health Club, a private, online Facebook page. The four-month challenge ends March 31, 2013.
“Our nurse at work suggested this Web site as a good resource for healthy living tips.” This Web site focuses on food, fitness, and health, with a MyPlate Calorie Tracker, MyQuit Coach (stop smoking mobile app), and Loops for mapping and sharing running, walking, and hiking routes.
—Kathy Centers, Corbin, member of Cumberland Valley Electric cooperative
NIKE TRAINING CLUB
Download the Nike Training Club app for your own personal trainer, with more than 114 custom-built workouts. “Whew, just finished the Nike cardio buster workout.”
—Robert McKinnie, Oak Grove, member of Pennyrile Electric cooperative
“I found this great YouTube page that has a wide variety of awesome workouts. There are even full-length Jillian Michaels workouts and all the way down to 10-minute workout,” says Dana West. The site says, “New workouts every weekday. Get high-quality, free workouts on Lionsgate BeFit! Transform your body and work out with top fitness trainers Jillian Michaels, Denise Austin, Jane Fonda, and more.”
—Dana West, Princeton, member of Pennyrile Electric cooperative
QUOTES TO LIVE BY
“Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today,” a post on Pinterest.
—Christene Makin, Nicholasville, member of Blue Grass Energy cooperative
“If there’s something you’d like to change about yourself or your life, do it because you love yourself, not so you’ll love yourself,” says Dr. Michelle May, www.AmIHungry.com. .
— Lisa Capehart, Foster, member of Blue Grass Energy cooperative
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