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AI-driven pet advice app, plus Australia on alert for Indonesian livestock diseases and more

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dvm360®’s Australian correspondent reports on an AI-driven app for pet owners and on outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease and lumpy skin disease in nearby Indonesia

AI-driven app offers tailored advice to pet owners

Back when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit Australia in early 2020 and her veterinary practice adapted by rostering its staff into separate teams for week-on/week-off work schedules, veterinarian Nicole Su, BSc, BVMS MANZCVS (unusual pets) had spare time on her hands and got involved in the development of Upilio, an innovative app for pet owners.

“I’ve been in exotics-only clinical veterinary practice since graduation in 2014, and when my vet practice moved into a team-based system with week-on/week-off scheduling at the start of the pandemic, I found myself in the situation of not having enough to do on my week off,” Su said. “Then I heard via a friend about the work that computer programmer Nick Ihab was doing developing an AI [artificial intelligence]–driven pet advice app.”

“I felt that the idea of ​​automating a little pet personal assistant in your pocket could be beneficial for both pet owners and their vets, augmenting the vet-patient-client relationship.”

The premise for Upilio came about when Nick Ihab, BSc, made the impulse decision to get 2 baby guinea pigs—only realizing afterward that he didn’t know how to care for them.

After reaching out on some online communities, Ihab realized that this was a common issue and that although the answers to many of his questions should come from a veterinarian, they didn’t need to come from a vet only during a consultation—and they could potentially stored in a database that people could access at any time.

“For example, many questions were around what fruit and vegetables guinea pigs could safely eat, and there’s lots of contradictory advice online due to the ability of any random person to present their opinion as fact on the internet,” Su said. “When I joined Upilio, the app was a very basic database and profile maker, but we are planning on a comprehensive solution for diet and husbandry that encompasses the majority of pet species once we get funding.”

“One major portion of the app will be a pet-food finder that takes into account allergens, special needs like skin health, age, breed, and size. [There will] Also be alerts built into the system for queries that need a consultation, encouraging owners to follow up with their primary care veterinarian.”

Su and Ihab also plan to incorporate alerts into the app that would notify pet owners when they need to book an appointment for their pet by tracking parameters like weight fluctuations and food intake, as well as reminding pet owners about their pet’s vaccinations and revisit appointments. Upilio is looking for further seed funding to aid development of the app and will debut a web version of its dog-food finder later in 2022.

Su said the past 2 years have been a rewarding experience because her veterinary expertise complements Ihab’s tech know-how.

“The combination of our backgrounds in vet and programming really makes it unique, and essentially what Nick is doing with the pet-food finder program is trying to replicate my own mental algorithm for recommending commercial diets when I am presented with a particular patient,” Su explained. “A large portion of our working time together consists of [me] explaining what I do in a veterinary sense in different situations and us coming up with a way to present this information in a way that helps owners understand—and is also tailored to the specific needs of their pet.”

“We’re hoping to apply this concept to several challenges that pet owners face, but always in a way that reminds them that their primary care veterinarian still needs to be their pet’s main advocate and that encourages pet owners to seek pet care advice from vets Instead of influencers, breeders, or pet store employees.”

Australia on high alert during lumpy skin disease, foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in Indonesia

Recent outbreaks of the livestock diseases foot-and-mouth disease1 and lumpy skin disease2 in Indonesia have prompted Chief Veterinary Officer of Australia Mark Schipp to remind livestock producers and veterinarians in Australia to be vigilant against the diseases, which are currently not present in Australia.

Foot-and-mouth disease is a contagious viral disease that affects cattle, sheep, goats, and pigs, and prior to the current outbreak, Indonesia had been free of the disease since 1986. Lumpy skin disease is a viral disease of cattle and water buffalo that was previously limited to Africa; However, since 2019, the disease has spread through China and Southeast Asia. If either disease arrived in Australia, there would be devastating consequences for the livestock industries and animal trade.

The Australian Veterinary Association has also warned that Australia’s shortage of veterinarians in rural and regional areas could put the nation’s biosecurity at risk, with insufficient veterinary capacity to respond to any potential disease outbreaks.3

The Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water, and the Environment has been disseminating regular information updates on foot-and-mouth disease and lumpy skin disease to veterinarians and livestock industry groups.

References

  1. Media statement: foot and mouth disease detected in Indonesia. News release. Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment. May 9, 2022. Accessed May 26, 2022. https://www.awe.gov.au/about/news/media-releases/media-statement-foot-and-mouth-disease-detected-indonesia
  2. Australian Chief Vet to visit Indonesia for animal health cooperation talks. News release. Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment. March 23, 2022. Accessed May 26, 2022. https://www.awe.gov.au/about/news/media-releases/aus-chief-vet-visit-indonesia-animal-health-talks
  3. Brown A, Sinclair S. Vet shortage puts Australia’s biosecurity at risk as foot-and-mouth disease looms. ABC News (Australian Broadcast). May 10, 2022. Accessed May 26, 2022. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-05-11/vet-shortage-a-biosecurity-risk-as-foot-and-mouth-disease -looms/101052600

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Does Vitamin C Help With a Cold? Yes, but It Won’t Help Prevent It

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  • The belief that vitamin C can help you steer clear of a cold nasty has been a myth for decades, but it has since been disproven.
  • Research shows that at least 200 mg per day of vitamin C, while you’re sick, can help you get better sooner and decreases the intensities of your symptoms.
  • Though many people turn to supplements to get extra vitamin C, physicians recommend sticking to vitamin C rich foods, like papaya or red bell pepper.
  • This article was reviewed by Tania Elliott, MD, who specializes in infectious diseases related to allergies and immunology for internal medicine at NYU Langone Health.
  • This story is part of Insider’s guide for Treating the Common Cold.

Walk through the aisles of any pharmacy when you’re trying to keep an impending cold at bay and you’ll be met with a slew of options — from over-the-counter medications to cough drops, herbal teas to vitamin C powders.

The belief that vitamin C can help you steer clear of a cold nasty has been around for decades but has since been disproven. That said, vitamin C can help with your cold in other ways. Here’s what you need to know.

Vitamin C does not prevent colds

“Nobel prize winner Dr. Linus Pauling famously claimed in the 1970s that high doses of vitamin C prevented the


common cold

,” says Mike Sevilla, a family physician in Salem, Ohio.

But Pauling had little evidence to back his claim. The foundations of his argument came from a single study of a sample of children in the Swiss Alps, which he then generalized to the overall population.

Turns out he overgeneralized, and numerous studies have since disproved Pauling’s claim.

“Unfortunately, follow-up research has shown that vitamin C does not prevent the common cold,” Sevilla says. Yet this misconception continues to live on.

“In my family practice office, I see patients from a variety of cultures and backgrounds and the use of vitamin C for the common cold is well known across all of them,” Sevilla says.

Vitamin C can help you get over a cold faster

So if you are healthy, feeling well, and are just trying to prevent catching the cold, vitamin C can’t do much for you. But if you’re already sick, it’s a different story.

“It can shorten the length of a cold and decreases the intensity of the illness,” Sevilla says.

But if you want to cut down your cold time, you’ll likely need more than the recommended dietary amount. The Food and Nutrition Board at the National Academy recommends 75 to 90 mg of vitamin C a day for adults. To fight that cold, you’ll need more than double that amount.

In one 2013 review, from the Cochrane Database researchers of Systematic Reviews, found evidence from multiple trials that participants who took at least 200 mg of vitamin C regularly over the course of a trial got over their cold faster than participants who took a placebo. Adults who took vitamin C saw an 8% reduction in the duration of their cold compared to the placebo group. And children had an even larger reduction — by 14%.

Plus, the review also found that, as Sevilla says, vitamin C can also reduce the severity of the cold once you have one.

You can easily get 200 mg of vitamin C from eating a small papaya, which has about 96 mg, and a cup of sliced ​​red bell peppers, which racks up 117 mg. But a faster way to get an even larger dose is from powders or supplements, which can give you as much as 1,000 mg of vitamin C in a single packet — that’s 1,111% to 1,333% of your recommended daily allowance.

The side effects of too much vitamin C

If you’re planning to take that much vitamin C every day for an extended period, it merits a talk with a doctor.

Sevilla says that taking more than 2,000 mg of vitamin C daily has been known to cause GI effects like nausea and abdominal pain. It’s primarily because of those issues that the tolerable upper intake level — the max you should take unless under the direction of a doctor — is 2,000 mg for adults.

And if you’re debating between a food and a supplement, Sevilla recommends sticking with food as your source of vitamin C, if you can manage it.

Sperm Counts Rebound When Obese Men Shed Pounds

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By Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, May 26, 2022 (HealthDay News) — When men shed extra pounds and keep them off, the health benefits may extend all the way to their sperm count, a new study finds.

The study, of nearly 50 men with obesity, found that those who lost weight by following a low-calorie diet improved their sperm count by about 40%. But there was a catch: They needed to keep the weight off to maintain the higher sperm count.

And in this case, the weight loss was fairly substantial: After an eight-week low-calorie diet, study participants had lost an average 36 pounds.

Both the weight loss and rise in sperm count were rapid — and striking, according to Dr. Bobby Najari, a urologist who reviews the findings.

“I was impressed by the impact on sperm count in such a short time span,” said Najari, an assistant professor and director of the Male Infertility Program at NYU Langone Health in New York City.

He said it’s not clear how many men in the real world could achieve that kind of weight loss — and keep it off.

But the bigger point, Najari said, is that shedding extra pounds through diet and exercise can have a role in family planning.

A number of studies have linked obesity to lower sperm quality, including lower sperm counts and sperm that look and move as they should fewer. The new study — recently published in the journal Human Reproduction — looked at whether weight loss can change that.

It involved 47 obese men between the ages of 20 and 63 who all followed a low-calorie diet — 800 calories per day — for eight weeks. After that, they were randomly assigned to one of four groups for a one-year maintenance phase: one group exercised; another took liraglutide, a diabetes drug sometimes used for weight loss; a third exercised and took the medication; the fourth did neither.

All of the exercisers were encouraged to get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise, such as brisk walking, each week. For added motivation, they were also offered exercise classes.

Researchers found that after the eight-week diet, participants had not only dropped a substantial amount of weight, they also generally showed a sperm rebound. Their average sperm count rose by 41%, and sperm concentration (how densely packed those sperm were) increased by 49%.

A year later, about half of the men had kept the pounds off — whether through exercise, medication or both. They’d also maintained their higher sperm counts and concentrations.

That was not the case, however, for men who regained the weight.

“Losing weight and keeping the weight loss seem to have a profound effect on increasing sperm count,” said researcher Signe Sørensen Torekov, a professor of biomedical sciences at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

It’s not clear whether any study participants had a history of infertility, or whether the weight loss improved their ability to conceive.

But, Torekov said, “the new findings may be good news for fertility, as previous studies show a link between higher sperm count and faster achievement of pregnancy.”

As for why weight matters, it’s not fully clear, but Najari said that hormonal effects are a prime suspect: Excess fat tissue can boost the conversion of testosterone to estrogen, and men with obesity have been shown to have lower testosterone levels than thinner men.

Whatever the exact mechanisms, Najari said the new findings suggest that weight loss reverses the process.

“This provides hope that the negative impact on sperm quality isn’t permanent and can be reversed through diet and exercise,” Najari said.

He suggested that men with obesity may want to have a semen analysis done if they have been trying to conceive with a partner for six months without success.

More information

The Mayo Clinic has more on male infertility.

SOURCES: Signe Sørensen Torekov, PhD, MSc, professor, clinical translational metabolism, University of Copenhagen, Denmark; Bobby Najari, MD, assistant professor, urology and population health, and director, Male Infertility Program, NYU Langone Health, New York City; Human ReproductionMay 17, 2022, online

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No Smoking plus Organic Acai Help You on Your Wellness Journey

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For better or for worse, it isn’t uncommon to see people smoking. For many people, this has already become a habit for them, especially when they’re stressed, when they’re together with their friends, or even when they want to lose weight. But if we want to keep our body strong and fit throughout our lives, we must be mindful of what we do with it—from the food we eat to even the substances we take, such as cigarettes and alcohol. We can be happy and healthy even without hurting our health!

Smoking, although it has many negative effects, can be addictive. Dr. Dexter Macalintal, Lifestyle Medicine Specialist, explains that this is because of the chemical nicotine. This is found in the tobacco plant, which is rolled into a cigarette or placed into vape liquid. When we smoke, our bodies absorb nicotine, which tells our brain to release dopamine, the happy hormone. This then makes the user feel happy and relaxed. Over time, especially when stressed or angry, our brain tells us to repeat the action that makes you feel better—in this case, smoking. When this isn’t controlled, smoking can develop into a habit and a compulsory act, and the user becomes addicted.

People who have become addicted to smoking will often report consistent cold and cough. This is because of the allergy symptoms that have developed from the smoke. More well-known, as well, are the multiple cancers that you can be at risk of, like lung cancer, throat cancer, and even esophagus cancer. According to the Department of Health, 87,600 Filipinos die a year from tobacco-related diseases. Even people who inhale cigarette smoke from other smokers, who are known as secondhand or even thirdhand smokers, can be at risk for these illnesses all because of nicotine.

Dr. Macalintal says that the different chemicals contained in cigarette smoke produce free radicals, molecules created by the body in some cell processes and even by the immune system. However, when these are not neutralized, particularly by antioxidants, free radicals can damage your body’s cells and even contribute to illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, and hypertension.

Quitting smoking is important in your wellness journey. It cuts down the risk of cardiovascular diseases to 50% of that of a non-smoker within 1 year, and lung diseases to 50% as well when one quits after 10 years. There also isn’t any safe number of cigarette sticks that one can take without getting sick; It really is best to avoid smoking altogether. You’re also able to keep your family and community safe by keeping them away from cigarette smoke. To stop smoking, you can talk with your doctor to help you establish a “quit date” where you must completely stop smoking or at least have reduced the number of cigarettes you smoke. You can also consider medicine or nicotine therapy from your doctor to help break the habit.

To be healthy, it’s also important to have nutritious foods and food supplements such as Organic Acai Premium Blend, which can help counteract the negative effects of cigarette smoke and strengthen your immune system through its high antioxidant and vitamin content! A healthy lifestyle gives us a stronger body and mind, making us feel better and happier too!

To know more about Organic Açaí Premium Blendvisit organic.com.ph or call hotline, 0969- 1754233. Available in all Watsons, S&R outlets and other major drugstores and supermarkets near you.

Keto Blast Gummies (Weight Loss Support): Reviews, Ingredients & Warning Read Before Order! Job – (DONOTUSE) University of California Santa Barbara Police Department

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Politics and pandemic fatigue doom California’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates

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In January, progressive California Democrats vowed to adopt the toughest COVID vaccine requirements in the country. Their proposals would have required most Californians to get the shots to go to school or work — without allowing exemptions to get out of them.

Months later, the lawmakers pulled their bills before the first votes.

One major vaccine proposal survives, but faces an uphill battle. It would allow children ages 12 to 17 to get a COVID-19 vaccine without parental permission. At least 10 other states permit some minors to do this.

Democrats blamed the failure of their vaccine mandates on the changing nature and perception of the pandemic. They said the measures became unnecessary as rates declined earlier this year and the public became less focused on the pandemic. Besides, they argued, the state isn’t vaccinating enough children, so requiring the shots for attendance would shut down too many kids out of school.

Political pressure from business and public safety groups and from moderate Democrats — along with vocal opposition from anti-vaccine local — also contributed.

Now, even as case rates start to balloon again, the window of opportunity to adopt COVID vaccine mandates may have closed, said Hemi Tewarson, executive director of the National Academy for State Health Policy. “Given the concerns around mandates and all the pushback states have received on this, they’re hesitant to really move forward,” Tewarson said. “Federal mandates have stalled in the courts. And legislation is just not being enacted.”

Other states have also largely failed to adopt COVID vaccine requirements this year. Washington, DC, was the only jurisdiction to pass legislation to add the COVID vaccine to the list of required immunizations for K-12 students once the shots have received full federal authorization for kids of those ages. A public school mandate adopted by Louisiana in December 2021 was rescinded in May. The most popular vaccine legislation has been to ban COVID vaccine mandates of any kind, which at least 19 states did, according to the National Academy for State Health Policy.

In California, the landscape has shifted radically in just a few months. In January, a group of progressive Democrats unveiled eight bills to require vaccinations, combat misinformation, and improve vaccine data. Two were sweeping mandates that would have required employees of most indoor businesses to get shots and added COVID vaccines to the list of immunizations required for schools.

“It’s important that we continue to push for vaccine mandates the most aggressively we possibly can,” state Assembly member Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland) told KHN in early 2022. She was the author of the workplace mandate bill.

But the legislation imploded almost immediately.

In March, Wicks’ worker vaccine mandate proposal died. It was strongly opposed by firefighter and police unions, whose membership would have been subject to the requirement.

“I don’t think the anti-vaxxers carry much weight in Sacramento with my colleagues,” Wicks said. “They’re a pretty insignificant part of the equation.”

The public safety unions “are the ones that carry the weight and influence in Sacramento,” she said. California Professional Firefighters and other public safety groups argued in written opposition to the bill that mandates would interfere with their ability to negotiate employment requirements with their employers. “To summarily remove these bargained policies with a blanket mandate sets a dangerous and demoralizing precedent,” the group, which represents 30,000 firefighters, wrote.

“It’s hard to make that argument that right now we need to be mandating when you have a good number of people who feel like we are past the pandemic.”

— Assembly member Akilah Weber (D-San Diego)

Schools were also supposed to be subject to a strict vaccine mandate.

In October 2021, Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that California would become the first state to require shots for schoolchildren starting in July 2022. That deadline has since been pushed back to at least July 2023.

And Newsom’s order came with a loophole that will allow parents to opt their kids out by claiming a “personal belief” exemption.

In January, when California routinely topped 100,000 new cases a day, lawmakers introduced legislation to prohibit personal belief exemptions for COVID vaccines — those are not allowed for any other required childhood vaccines.

Again, they soon backed off, saying the vaccination rate among kids was so low that shots shouldn’t be required until they’re broadly available in pediatrician offices. About 60% of eligible Californians are fully vaccinated and have received a booster shot, while only 35% of kids ages 5 to 11 have received their first two doses, according to the California Department of Public Health. Boosters were approved for children in mid-May.

Assemblymember Akilah Weber, left, speaks at a roundtable with Attorney General Rob Bonta and local leaders to discuss reproductive rights on May 5 in San Diego.

(Haley Nelson/For The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Instead of implementing mandates, the state should focus on educating and reaching out to parents, said Assembly member Akilah Weber (D-San Diego), an OB-GYN who was among the legislators who introduced the package of vaccine bills.

“It’s hard to make that argument that right now we need to be mandating when you have a good number of people who feel like we are past the pandemic,” she said.

Lawmakers could resurrect the mandate bills, she said, if hospitals and health care workers become overwhelmed again. Cases are rising statewide. The rate of positive COVID tests has been as high as 7% in recent days, its highest level since February — and likely an undercount because of the people who are testing at home and not reporting results.

Weber’s suggestion to better engage parents helps explain why the legislation failed, said Robin Swanson, a Democratic political consultant based in Sacramento. State and local officials never clearly communicated with the public about vaccinating kids, she said, and didn’t effectively reach out to vulnerable populations from the outset.

“You can’t build a mandate on top of distrust,” Swanson said.

Outreach and public information are critical, said Dr. John Swartzberg, a clinical professor emeritus of infectious diseases and vaccines at the UC-Berkeley School of Public Health. But if those were paired with a mandate, he said, the state could vaccinate and protect many more children.

“In businesses that mandate vaccines, it works pretty well,” Swartzberg said. “And in schools, in particular, it works very well.”

Pro-vaccine who vowed to have a presence in the Capitol this year also thought mandates would greater vaccination boost rates. But as reality set in, they shifted their focus to boosting funding for vaccination and pushing surviving bills across the finish line.

“Yes, we do need vaccine requirements, and, yes, they do work,” said Crystal Strait, who leads the pro-vaccination organization ProtectUS. But she acknowledged that the situation had changed since January and said her group had to change with it: “We can’t be as simplistic as just a vaccine requirement.”

Newsom’s latest state budget proposal includes $230 million for vaccine outreach and $135 million for vaccine distribution and administration.

Strait’s group Democratic plans to combat vaccine misinformation among the public and wary lawmakers, including those within the ranks.

“You have people saying they’re pro-science and pro-public health, but when push comes to shove, they’re not there yet,” Strait said of hesitant legislators.

Generally, vaccine mandates are popular with the public. According to a March survey from the Public Policy Institute of California, 57% of Californians favored requiring people to provide proof of vaccination to go to large outdoor gatherings or enter some indoor venues like bars and restaurants.

But Rose Kapolczynski, a Democratic strategist who worked on the pro-vaccine lobby push with Strait, likened vaccine to beliefs climate change: Voters say they care, but other, more tangible issues, such as gas prices and reproductive rights, become more urgent to them.

“If things were as bad now as they were in January and February, there would be more concern and action,” said Catherine Flores-Martin, executive director of the pro-vaccine California Immunization Coalition. “I’m disappointed that people are not taking the long view.”

This story was produced by Kaiser Health News, which publishes California Healthline, an editorially independent service of the California Health Care Foundation. KHN is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

What Triggers Asthma? 4 Common Triggers and How to Avoid Them

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  • Some things that trigger asthma are tobacco smoke, mold pets, and dust mites.
  • To avoid dust mites, you should keep the humidity in your home below 50%, wash your bedding in water that is 130º F or higher, and reduce the number of soft surfaces in your home where the mites may live.
  • If you’re allergic to dogs or cats, consider getting an air filter for your home which can get rid of some pet dander in the air.
  • This article was medically reviewed by Osita OnugaMD, thoracic surgeon and assistant professor of thoracic surgical oncology at John Wayne Cancer Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California.
  • Visit Insider’s Health Reference library for more advice.

There are almost 25 million Americans living with


asthma

. Asthma is a condition that involves wheezing and extreme shortness of breath. When you come into contact with something that triggers your asthma, it can lead to inflammation in your airways and potentially cause an asthma attack.

But not everyone’s asthma attacks are triggered by the same situations. The most effective way to ward off asthma symptoms is to know and avoid your triggers.

Asthma is linked to allergies

Allerges and asthma are very closely tied, according to Geoffrey Chupp, MD, a pulmonologist and professor of medicine at Yale School of Medicine. He says the most common form of asthma is allergic asthma, which is asthma caused by exposures to allergens that the patient is allergic to. This accounts for about 60% of asthma cases.

“The allergic inflammatory response is activated when the allergen gets into the airway. Not all patients with allergies get asthma, but all patients with allergic asthma have allergies,” says Chupp.

That being said, an asthma patient doesn’t have to be allergic to something for it to trigger an asthma attack. According to Chupp, irritants like smoke, fumes, and perfumes can commonly trigger attacks in anyone with asthma.

Here are four of the most common asthma triggers and how to avoid them.

The trigger: Tobacco smoke

Smoke from any burning substance is an irritant that can cause inflammation in the airways, Chupp says. This can lead to coughs and bronchospasm, which is when the airways that connect to your lungs contract and spasm, often causing wheezing and making it hard to breathe.

Secondhand tobacco smoke is one of the most ubiquitous examples of smoke irritants. It also contains over 7,000 chemicals which can further irritate your airways.

How to avoid it

As much as possible, stay away from people who are smoking, and of course, do not smoke yourself. If it’s unavoidable to stay away from smokers, like if you live with family members who smoke, urge them to smoke outside of the house for your safety.

Chupp also recommends washing all clothes that have been exposed to smoke. This should be done because of the presence of thirdhand smoke, which is chemicals left behind by tobacco smoke, even long after the smoke itself is gone.

Like secondhand smoke, thirdhand smoke can still trigger asthma. Not only can thirdhand smoke linger on clothes, but it can also be found on other soft surfaces in your home such as furniture, drapes, carpets, and bedding. All of these should be thoroughly cleaned regularly to reduce risk of inhaling these harmful particles.

The trigger: Mold

Mold, or, more specifically, mold spores, are problematic for people with mold allergies and asthma. Mold spores are essentially tiny seeds that mold disperses in the air. They’re common, widespread, and cause reactions in the airway when inhaled, says Chupp. But mold spores usually only trigger symptoms if you’re allergic to that specific type of mold.

How to avoid it

Chupp says mold can be difficult to avoid since spores are so widespread. However, he recommends steering clear of damp, humid areas that are likely to be moldy, such as basements. You should also take care of your home and clean it regularly to get rid of mold.

The American Lung Association recommends having proper ventilation and keeping humidity levels in your home below 50% so mold is less likely to grow and spread. You can also use a humidity monitor to track humidity levels and add a dehumidifier to dry out any room that is especially humid.

Since the bathroom can be a breeding ground for mold, you should clean the bathroom with products that are meant specifically for killing mold, such as RMR-86 Instant Mold & Mildew Stain Remover or Skylarlife Home Mold & Mildew Remover. You can also check out Insider Reviews’ lie of top-rated bathroom cleaners for mold and grime. However, use caution since cleaning products can cause asthma symptoms or an asthma attack. Make sure, when using cleaning products, to work in a well-ventilated area and use a mask or respirator to stop you from inhaling chemicals.

Additionally, the CDC says to check for water leaks, as these can be a culprit for causing mold to grow under your floors or behind your walls. That said, if you aren’t positive if it’s mold in your home causing your asthma attacks, call in a mold inspection specialist to see how much mold is actually in your home, says Sharon Anoush Chekijian, MD MPH, a doctor and associate professor of Emergency Medicine at Yale School of Medicine.

The trigger: Dust mites

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, dust mites are one of the most common triggers for asthma and allergies. It’s actually the dust mites’ feces and their decaying bodies that contain the allergens. So yes — if you’re exposed to this irritant, it’s likely that you’ve got fecal particles in your airways, which can cause the reaction.

The mites themselves are extremely tiny and cannot be seen with the human eye. There are likely hundreds of thousands of dust mites in your home. They like to live in areas where human skin cells are shed, because this is what they feed on.

Five spots where dust mites are likely to live in your home:

  1. Bedding
  2. Pillows
  3. Carpets
  4. Upholstered furniture (such as couches and chairs)
  5. Drapes and curtains

How to avoid it

Dust mites are pretty much everywhere, but they thrive in humid conditions and on soft surfaces. Therefore, similar to mold, you can try to reduce the amount of dust mites in your home by keeping your humidity level below 50%. To track humidity levels, you should keep a humidity monitor in your home.

Additionally, Chupp says it’s crucial to wash sheets, comforters, and pillow cases in hot water once a week to kill the dust mites. Wash the bedding in hot water, around 130º F to kill the mites and remove the allergens. Using hypoallergenic mattress and pillow covers can also help.

Furthermore, you can reduce the amount of soft surfaces in your home where dust mites may live, such as removing carpets, curtains, excess pillows, and stuffed animals. If you use area rugs, be sure to wash them regularly in hot water. Chekijian also says to change filters, like from AC units, and clean out air ducts like those in heaters.

The trigger: Pets

Pets are a common trigger for allergies and asthma. However, contrary to popular belief, it’s the pets’ dander, urine, and saliva — not their fur — that causes the allergies and asthma attacks.

Pet dander is especially pesky because the particles are tiny and lightweight, which means they can remain airborne for a longer period of time than other larger allergens like mold spores or pollen.

How to avoid it

If you can’t part with your snuggle buddy, Chupp recommends keeping your pets off of your bed, or out of your bedroom altogether. He also says to use HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filters, which can help trap irritant particles like pet hair and dander. Again, as with the other triggers, cleaning the house thoroughly and regularly can help reduce the number of irritants that are lying around.

You should also talk to your doctor about any medications that may help you be comfortable and safe at home. A Chekijian says you might need to use an antihistamine or your inhaler more regularly.

If you don’t have a pet but are looking to get one, search for a hypoallergenic animal. They won’t be completely free of allergens, but they can have significantly less. They’re bred to minimize allergens and triggers like dander, pet hair shedding, and secretion of surface oils. According to the American Kennel Club, pets with non-shedding coats will produce less dander, since dander is attached to pet hair.

Lastly, if you’re going to someone’s home for the first time, Chekijian says you should ask if they have pets first so you can plan accordingly, perhaps by taking an antihistamine beforehand.

Other asthma triggers

These are not the only triggers, but they are five of the most widespread ones. Chekijian says some other asthma triggers are:

  • Smoke from campfires or indoor fireplaces
  • Vapor from an e-cigarette
  • Pollen
  • Fragrances
  • Changes in weather
  • Exercise

Be mindful of your symptoms and take note of what could be causing them. An allergist can run allergy tests to help you figure out what you are allergic to and better what triggers your asthma, and then you can be equipped to handle possible triggers.

Speak to your doctor about when you should be taking antihistamines and using your inhaler. Above all, always have your inhaler handy in case of emergencies.

My Life With Moderate to Severe Atopic Dermatitis

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By Ashley Ann Lora, as told to Stephanie Watson

I was diagnosed with atopic dermatitis when I was 2 years old. I don’t remember much of it at that age, but my parents sure do. The redness and bumps on my face are obvious in almost every photo of me from back then. It’s very clear from those pictures just how much the condition truly affected me.

I remember sleeping with my parents to try to keep myself from scratching my skin all night. I missed a lot of days of school, especially when it got severe.

There were so many things I felt like I couldn’t do because of eczema. It stopped me from playing sports, hanging out with my friends, and doing what “normal” kids do. I shed a lot of tears during that time.

Finally, there was a moment when the eczema went dormant. It was the best 2 years of my life up to that point. For the first time, I was able to grow out my nails and wear short-sleeved shirts. I truly believed that my eczema was gone. But then, on a family trip to an amusement park, I got super sick and the eczema came back with a vengeance. My dream of being eczema-free was gone in a matter of hours.

Tests and Treatments

Because eczema and allergies are closely related, I went through allergy testing. My doctor made all these little pricks on my back and applied different substances to see if I was allergic to them. There must have been 50 or 60 different marks on my back. I was allergic to almost every one of them, including trees, grass, and even certain types of rubber.

I went to a lot of doctor appointments from elementary school all the way up to high school. But from high school to college, I had given up on doctors because every visit was the same. I’d go into the exam room, the doctor would look at my skin, and within 5 minutes I’d walk out with a prescription for topical steroids.

The steroids would help temporarily, especially when my atopic dermatitis got really bad. But it felt like a Band-Aid, because eventually it would come back even worse. Then I’d have to go through the whole process again.

I had a love-hate relationship with mirrors growing up. I didn’t feel good about myself for a very long time. It was hard. Eczema affected me physically, socially, and psychologically. It felt very lonely because I thought I was the only one in the world living with this condition.

My Healing Journey

November 2014 was the beginning of my healing journey. I was in the middle of one of the worst flares of my adult life. I tried going through the same routine of using topical steroids, but this time it didn’t work.

I said, “enough is enough” and started doing my own research on eczema. I learned about topical steroid withdrawal and started to go through that process. It was rough. I had used steroids for more than 20 years. When I went off them, I had severe withdrawal symptoms that left me bedridden for almost a year and a half.

I lost half of my hair and part of my vision. My skin looked like a combination of snake and elephant skin. I shed so much that I constantly had to vacuum my bed and every corner of my house. It was like my body was going through a process of transforming itself.

In the middle of withdrawing from steroids, I got into a clinical trial of the biologic drug dupilumab (Dupixent). That was a game-changer. With that drug, I was finally able to start enjoying life. My skin was the clearest it had ever been. I felt normal!

In 2017, my skin was doing so well that I started to withdraw from dupilumab. I wanted to see how my skin would do without it. I wouldn’t recommend that approach for everybody, but I had confidence that my body could heal itself.

I’m currently not taking any medication. I’ve been focusing on more holistic practices like meditation, therapy, exercising, and eating foods that make me feel good. I’ve learned what works for me by seeing what has worked for other people.

Regaining Control

The biggest lesson I’ve learned during my journey is that my eczema is correlated with my emotions. A lot of people say stress triggers their eczema. For me anger, sadness and depression trigger it, too. As I’ve become more aware of my emotions, I see how they affect me and I’ve learned to control them through meditation and breathing.

Years ago, I let eczema take over my life. I would get into an itching cycle and my whole world would crash down around me. I lost a lot of who I was because of it. I don’t remember much of my childhood because the eczema was so traumatic and it consumed so much of what was good about my life.

I’ve done a full 180 since then. When I began accepting my eczema and figuring out how I could work with it, I got my life back. There was even a point when I began referring to my eczema as “she.” She became my best friend. When she flared up, I would ask her how we could work together to heal. By personifying my eczema and relating to her instead of seeing her as my enemy, I started healing more quickly.

I still flare up, but atopic dermatitis no longer controls what I get to do on a particular day. My condition is no longer the deciding factor in what I wear, where I go, and who I hang out with.

In 2015, I started calling myself an eczema warrior. I am a warrior, in a sense, because I’ve courageously conquered my eczema (mentally more than physically) and continue to do so. I’ve come to terms with my eczema. I’m proud of her and I’m proud of how far we’ve come together.

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Why Choosing Auto Insurance from USAA Is a Great Idea

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When someone thinks about auto insurance, they usually think about the typical insurance agencies. This type of insurance has been around for a long time and is very reliable, but it can also be expensive. USAA is a company that specializes in USAA auto insurance. The company was originally founded in 1922 with the goal of providing high levels of customer service and low fees for their customers. They are a very attractive option for people who want to save money on their auto insurance and still receive top quality service.

In this article, we break down the pros and cons of USAA Auto Insurance. Using specific examples from car insurance rates across 50 states, they evaluate how much membership costs, what benefits it offers, and whether or not you should consider switching insurance companies. USAA has been in business for over 80 years and is a reliable insurance company. They were ranked as the #1 company for customer satisfaction by JD Power and Associates. This USAA Auto Insurance review will give you all the information to compare USAA’s coverage options with other companies.

What States Have the Lowest USAA Rates

According to USAA, the states where its rates are the lowest are Hawaii, New Mexico, Alaska, and Delaware. These states have lower average rates than other states in the US. USAA has also made it a priority to offer great rates to military members and their families. We interviewed Laura Adams, Insurance & Finance Analyst at AutoInsurance.org, to know more about USAA Auto Insurance policies and what makes you qualify for them.

In addition, USAA offers some discounts and benefits that make it an appealing option for car insurance. For example, USAA offers Military Appreciation discounts that range from 5% to 15%. In addition, USAA offers a one-time $250 discount when you enroll in its Gold Plus plan. USAA is a nationwide auto insurance provider, and they offer rates in all 50 states. One of the benefits of USAA membership is that you can use their rates to compare quotes from multiple providers. When you shop for auto insurance, it’s important to compare rates from different companies to find the best deal. USAA has consistently been ranked as one of the lowest-cost providers in the country. Their rates are often 20% or cheaper than the industry average. This makes USAA a great option if you want to save money on your auto insurance policy. Plus, USAA has a wide variety of coverages and options available to members. This means you can find the perfect policy for your needs. Whether you need liability insurance, comprehensive coverage, or roadside assistance, USAA has you covered.

USAA auto insurance rates are typically the lowest in states where the company has a large presence. USAA is the only major national car insurer that offers policyholders discounts in every state. In addition to offering the lowest rates, USAA also has some of the best coverage in the country. This includes coverage for theft, collision, and comprehensive and liability insurance. Policyholders can also choose from add-on features, such as roadside assistance and rental car reimbursement. So if you’re looking for an affordable and reliable car insurance provider, look no further than USAA.

How Long Does It Take to Process a Claim Using USAA?

USAA is one of the most reputable auto insurance companies in the United States. They have a fast claim processing time, which is impressive given the number of claims they process each year. Most claims are processed within a few days. If you have a claim that requires more than a few days to process, USAA will notify you and explain the reason for the delay. All claims are thoroughly investigated to ensure that you are compensated for your damages. Suppose there is any question about whether or not you are eligible for compensation. In that case, USAA will contact you to discuss the matter further. USAA is one of the most popular auto insurance providers in the United States. They offer different policies, including auto, home, motorcycle, and pet insurance. One of the benefits of using USAA is its fast claim processing. It usually takes just a few days for a claim to be processed. This is thanks to their team of experienced insurance professionals. If you have an accident, don’t worry – USAA has covered you. They have a wide range of coverage options that will protect you financially if something happens. In addition, they offer roadside assistance and rental car coverage. So you can be sure that you’re always covered when you need it the most.

What Is USAA’s Payout for a Claim?

USAA Auto Insurance provides coverage for vehicles, accidents, and personal injuries. Their payout for a claim is generally higher than other insurers. USAA pays up to 100% of the auto insurance deductible for vehicle accidents, plus $10,000 per person covered in the accident. If you are at fault for an accident, USAA Auto Insurance will also pay up to $25,000 in damages to the other party. Personal injury claims through USAA have a maximum payout of $250,000. In addition to these general payout amounts, several exceptions can increase or decrease your payout. For example, suppose you have comprehensive or collision coverage with another insurer. In that case, USAA will not pay any benefits on claims made through those policies. USAA Auto Insurance provides a payout for a very good claim compared to other insurers. USAA pays out 95% of the claim’s actual value, which is much higher than most other insurers. This means that you are unlikely to lose money if you have a claim with USAA.

Does USAA Offer Discounts, and What Are the Terms of This Discount?

USAA offers some discounts on auto insurance. The most common discount is the USAA Military Family Discount. This discount applies to auto insurance for military members and their families. The terms of this discount vary depending on the state in which you live, but typically it is available at 10-15%. In addition, other discounts are available, such as the USAA Auto Insurance Student Discount. This discount applies to students who have established good credit and are licensed for at least two years. Finally, USAA offers some other discounts specific to certain types of drivers. These include the USAA Driver Safety Discount and the USAA Vehicle Protection Discount.

Conclusion

USAA Auto Insurance is a great choice for car owners in the Phoenix area. The rates are very reasonable, and the coverage is top-notch. We would recommend USAA to anyone looking for auto insurance in the Phoenix area. If you are looking for a car insurance company, USAA is a great option. USAA offers a wide range of auto insurance products and has a long history of providing quality service. In addition to offering great auto insurance products, USAA also offers excellent customer service.

For over 90 years, USAA has been providing for their members. With a wide range of insurance and other services, USAA is the go-to provider for all your financial needs. While it may seem expensive for some, it’s worth the extra money for the peace of mind you are receiving, providing you with the best customer service. Furthermore, all members are eligible for the services being offered, which means that all members can receive the great benefits. Plus, USAA’s partnerships with other companies makes getting discounts on car insurance that much easier.

Media Contact
Company Name: AutoInsurance.org
Contact Person: Laura Adams
Email: Send Email
Country: United States
Website: https://www.autoinsurance.org/

Choosing the Right SEO Agency for Enterprise SEO

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Choosing the right SEO agency can be a daunting task in itself.

Considering the complexity of what is needed from an enterprise SEO agency adds an entirely new level that can be overwhelming.

With so many SEO agencies popping up all over, how do you know which ones truly know how to optimize a website with the latest in Google’s algorithms without trickery or spam?

My experience over the last 20 years has found me on both sides of the fence.

I started my career building an SEO agency from a few people and a handful of clients to more than 500 clients and 100+ employees in less than a year.

Cut to several years later (2006) and I’m on the other side for classmates.com (at the time a very large company) and interviewing for agencies to provide extra support.

Since then I have worked for Concur, Smartsheet, ADP (managing usedcars.com), Nordstrom, Groupon, and now GitHub.

With each enterprise organization I manage SEO for, I bring in a consultant and an agency (if there isn’t already one on contract).

The jump from working with a small to medium business into a large organization with corporate bureaucracy is not easy for anyone, especially an agency.

Partnering with an Enterprise SEO Agency: What You Need to Know

A big factor in how your enterprise SEO agency will perform for you is having a clear understanding of what you will need them for once they are onboarded.

Setting up expectations during the RFP process will not only help you weed out the capable from the not-so-capable, but will set you and them up for success in the long run.

Drafting up a business case with your agency and tools for SEO will help you get organized on your needs and what your plan is for your agency going forward.

The business case will also help communicate expectations with key stakeholders and gain buy-in.

Where to Find Enterprise SEO Agencies to Choose From

I personally have a list of agencies that follow me with new in-house roles and I recommend agencies as a consultant for clients depending on their needs.

Agencies will always say they can do anything but, from my experience, I know who can do what better and will always recommend accordingly.

If you don’t have your list, a tweet to SEO pros, or a post to a Facebook Group asking for recommendations can help.

If you have time, attend a few conferences (eg, SMX Advanced, Pubcon, Mozcon) to gather your list.

Peruse the booths, talk to speakers from agencies on the topics that your needs focus on, and talk to other attendees.

Get to know other SEO professionals at an enterprise level and ask them who they use, who they like, and why they like them.

If you are planning on reviewing a large number of agencies for a specific need, then a Request For Proposal (RFP) is needed, but not always necessary.

As long as you are clear on what your needs and expectations are, you shouldn’t have any problem during the review process.

Allow each agency to chat with you one on one about your expectations, and present to a larger team as a second step.

I usually like to get a list of what the other teams would expect (in Groupon’s case, we had five SEO teams plus several business verticals across the global organization I needed to coordinate with).

This requires several meetings upfront but saves time and follow-up from unexpected questions when it comes down to the agencies presenting.

What Makes an Enterprise SEO Agency Different?

Agencies with enterprise-level experience will usually skip past the obvious fixes since they have an understanding that there could be business reasons for them.

An example is the Nordstrom website. It’s a blaring SEO issue that anyone going to “nordstrom.com” is redirected to “shop.nordstrom.com”.

I’ve always said that any SEO that didn’t bring that up doesn’t know SEO.

However, they should:

  • Continue with the understanding that there could be a business reason.
  • Follow up with the impact vs. effort it would take to fix it.
  • Be open to feedback with any pushback (or explanation) the SEO team might give during a review.

An agency that hasn’t worked with a complex, enterprise-level site might not understand that:

  • It isn’t as easy as it appears.
  • The business might not support it.
  • There could be legal reasons.
  • The fix might not be scalable.

Enterprise agencies will also understand that the level of engagement for a larger company might be higher than most of their smaller clients.

Enterprise SEO agencies need to be proactive since the SEO team at the company is more often distracted by all of the work that needs to get done.

Regular check-ins and open communication are critical to the success of the relationship. I have always worked best with agencies that have local offices and/or make frequent in-person visits.

The best agency I have ever worked with has an SEO manager that:

  • Sits in the office under contractor status with their own desk, company email, logins to tools, and reporting.
  • Attends regular meetings between engineering and verticals across the organization.

In the end, the relationship is that of an extension of the team that regularly communicates, proactively suggests growth strategies and foundational fixes, and follows through to ensure the work is getting done.

Managing Your SEO Agency

The key to managing your enterprise SEO agency is to keep the levels of communication flowing.

Give them the tools and access they need to become successful and help them champion any work they need through.

Too many times I have inherited strong and capable agencies that fell quiet with no actual work done in a matter of weeks, or even months.

Frustrations were on both sides, to no one’s fault.

Contracts are always signed with positive optimism and a solid plan. But with communication dropping, and little to no support, the agency can’t be successful – and your SEO will fall short.

Set up expectations and a plan (roadmap) of deliverables that the agency should follow.

Be supportive where you can when they need you to be, and follow-through with other teams the agency needs to complete work as promised.

Have at least weekly check-ins with a clear list of what they are working on, what your team is working on, and expected delivery dates.

Talk through where you all are at with tasks for each, and always end with any recommendations they might have to keep the work flowing.

Monthly check-ins with key stakeholders always help to hold everyone accountable.

Other teams can make use of the agency, but also need help understanding their role in work that needs to be done.

I like to end each quarter with a report on tasks completed and ROI on the projects or tasks completed more than 3 months prior.

In some cases, I have seen weekly, monthly and even daily reporting, but then the agency becomes a reporting agency rather than an SEO agency, and when the contract is up it isn’t renewed.

Find your sweet spot for communication and expectations, adjust as needed, and review the contract as often as you all feel it is necessary.

When you all are working together then you will see the success for SEO that both sides are there for.


Featured Image Credit: Paulo Bobita