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Some OTC Allergy Eye Drops are a scam

Over the Counter  Similisan “Allergy Relief Eyedrops“, sold at many pharmacies and food markets contain worthless ingredients for treating the ocular symptoms of allergy including itching and redness. Steven Salzburg, a biomedical engineer, wrote last month in Forbes magazine ( May 2016) that he noticed the eye drops at his local Giant Food Store (parent of Martins). He noted that the eye drop costs $10 and contains three ingredients- ground honeybees, “eyebright” and sabadilla plant extract. Based on incorrect theories, these homeopathic eyedrops are supposed to relieve allergy symptoms by using ground up honey bees, and two plants that have been shown NOT to have any medicinal value. Sabadilla is an insecticide which causes eye irritation. “Eyebright” is a plant whose petals resemble a blood shot eye. It was reasoned by the ancient Greeks thousands of years ago that it may be helpful at treating red eyes because of its appearance rather than any proven effect. Homeopathic doctors prolong the deception that these old solutions can delivery any relief.

The writing on the eye drop box says it meets homeopathic standards which essentially means that if it causes irritation then it can treat irritation. Unfortunately the FDA has no power to prohibit the sale of these useless ( and potentially irritating) eyedrops. Like most homeopathic medications on the market they are a complete waste of money.

If your insurance doesn’t cover prescription eye drops for allergy then look for ketotifen eye drops which also cost about $10 but contain ingredients fully studied in clinical research and on the US market for more than 20 years. Brand names of ketotifen include Aloway and Zaditor. I welcome any comments you might have on this article.

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What is non-celiac gluten sensitivity? (gluten intolerance)

Until relatively recently, the most well-known medical condition associated with gluten sensitivity was celiac disease. This is caused by an immune response to the cereal protein gluten in susceptible people. Celiac disease is a potentially serious condition that can cause intestinal symptoms such as weight loss and chronic diarrhea and other health problems including anemia, osteoporosis, joint pain, dermatitis and neurological symptoms. The condition affects around 1% of the general population and is diagnosed using a combination of a blood test for antibodies and a biopsy of the small intestine. A life-long gluten-free diet is currently the only treatment available.

It is now widely accepted that gluten sensitivity can also occur in people without celiac disease. Non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), as it is known, is associated with a similar range of acute symptoms to celiac disease, making it difficult to differentiate between the two conditions based on symptoms alone. NCGS is diagnosed by a process of exclusion and currently there is no biomarker to detect it. It seems likely that NCGS is far more prevalent than celiac disease, with a recent UK study2 suggesting that, out of every 100 patients with gluten sensitivity referred for specialist investigation, 10 will be diagnosed with celiac disease and 90 will have NCGS.

“In this study, 13% of adults screened in the general population said they had gluten sensitivity, which is a significant number of people,” said Prof. Sanders. “We were very interested to find that the vast majority of individuals referred to secondary care with gluten sensitivity were diagnosed with NCGS and that these people were far less likely to have nutritional deficiencies or autoimmune disorders than the patients diagnosed with coeliac disease.”

Prof. Sanders thinks the best way for doctors to approach patients who present with symptoms relating to eating gluten is to focus on excluding celiac disease using blood tests and, where necessary, gastroscopy with a biopsy of the small bowel. However, he says, physicians need to make sure patients are eating a normal diet at the time of diagnosis. “Any patient who presents saying they have gluten-related symptoms is likely to have placed themselves on a gluten-free diet,” he says. “It is essential that these patients stop their gluten-free diet and eat a normal diet in order for us to exclude celiac disease.”

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Does oral zinc (Zicam) help treat a common cold?

Oral zinc if taken within 24 hours of the onset of cold symptoms does seem to reduce the duration of a cold by 1-2 days. However, zinc did not reduce the incidence nor the severity of a cold. This report is available in the Journal of the American Medical Association this week. It is a summary of the results of 14 trials including 1780 patients given zinc or placebo in controlled studies. In prevention trials in children, daily zinc did reduce the incidence of colds in children when it was used for 3 months during the cold/flu season.

JAMA April 9, 2014; pages 1440-1441.

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Only 50% of asthmatics receive flu injection- Acc’d to CDC

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) only 50% of asthmatics received the influenza injection during the 2011-2012 influenza season. The The CDC goal is to vaccinate at least 90% of asthmatics and others with chronic lung conditions such as COPD.

Asthma was the most common underlying condition among persons hospitalized with pandemic influenza A (H1N1) virus infection in 2009. Although persons with asthma are not more likely than others to get influenza, influenza can make asthma symptoms worse, trigger asthma attacks, and lead to pneumonia or other complications that result in hospitalization and even death.

Influenza virus is safe and effective to prevent most influenza infections. There is no live virus in the influenza injection so no one can develop the flu from the vaccination. Side effects are usually involve discomfort or swelling in the arm. It is not too late to get your flu injection for this year!

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