Friday, January 28, 2011

The FDA approved Sanofi-Aventis to begin sales of Allegra, currently a prescription antihistamine allergy medication, to be sold over the counter (OTC) as of March 2011. On the market for approximately 15 years, Allegra has been fighting off generic copycat medications since its patent protection expired in 2001. Designation as an OTC medication means that Allegra has been able to prove that Allegra can be used safely without professional supervision.

Remember, when taking allergy medications, that you should:
  • Pay careful attention to package label instructions for use, side effects, and when you should call the doctor.
  • Ask the pharmacist about specific questions such as possible interactions with other medications or foods.
  • Follow label instructions exactly as indicated. Increasing dosages does not provide additional benefits. It merely increases the risks of side effects.
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, approximately 40 million Americans fight chronic allergies due to grass, trees, weed pollen, mold spores, dust mites, cat, dog and rodent dander, and cockroach droppings. Allergy symptoms manifest as a result. These typically include coughing, sneezing, itchy eyes, runny nose and scratchy throat.

Clarinex, Xyzal and Astelin are some of the more commonly prescribed allergy medications in addition to Allegra. Allegra will be facing competition from OTC antihistamines including Benadryl, Claritin and Zyrtec.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sled safety

Sledding and other winter activities such as tubing and tobogganing, account for tens of thousands of reported injuries requiring medical treatment each winter, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. This is an astounding statistic, considering that snow activities take place for a relatively short period of time each winter. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises the following to help prevent injuries due to sledding accidents.
  • Wear helmets when sledding to avoid head and brain injuries. Sleds easily reach speeds of 20-25 mph.
  • Supervise sledding activities. About 71 percent of unsupervised sledding outings end in injuries, while only 29 percent occur when children are supervised.
  • Separate the older children from the younger ones.
  • Do not sled where there are snow-covered holes, roots, tree stumps and fences. Avoid areas with a lot of trees.
  • Sledding spots should have plenty of flat room at the bottom of the hill. Do not select a spot that ends in the middle of a street, busy parking lot or pond.
  • Dress in bright colors to be seen easily.
  • Bundle up in layers for extra warmth.
  • Have one child sled the course at a time. The next in line should not begin their trip down until the last one has ended their run.
  • Do not use sled-substitutes, e.g., cardboard boxes, cafeteria trays.
  • Select sleds with steering mechanisms as opposed to snow disks or inner tubes.
  • Keep sledding children away from cars and other motorized vehicles.
  • Do not ride a sled being pulled by anything motorized.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The dirtiest spots in your house!

Does the five-second rule apply when you drop a piece of fruit in the sink while rinsing it off? Would you go ahead and pop it in your mouth? How about if you dropped it in the toilet? Which is worse? You might just be surprised.

One of the dirtiest places in your home is the kitchen sink. As disgusting as this may sound, your toilet may be cleaner! Food particles from rinsed plates or soaking dishes are a great breeding ground for bacteria. The bacteria can then transfer to your hands or other foods during the preparation process. Rather than rinsing the sink with water, wash it thoroughly with a bleach water solution daily to sanitize it.

Your toothbrush is also a prime germ carrier. After you rinse it off and store it away until next time, it becomes a moist haven for bacteria. Add that to the toilet germs that are spread each time you flush the toilet and you have quite a germ fest on your hands. Surprisingly, flushing the toilet sends a spray of bacteria- and virus-contaminated water droplets into the surrounding air that can float around the bathroom for about two hours before landing. Prime landing spots include your toothbrush. Store it somewhere it can air out and dry between uses. Somewhere not too close to the toilet. (Closing the toilet lid before flushing also helps prevent the spray of germs). Also, replace your toothbrush frequently, especially after you have gotten over being sick. Consider storing your toothbrush somewhere it can air out and dry between uses. Somewhere that is not too close to the toilet. Replace your toothbrush frequently (particularly after recovering from an illness).

Anything in the house that is touched frequently is suspect as a germ carrier. Viruses have been found to be able to linger on surfaces for 18 hours or longer. When you wipe off the kitchen counters or dining table after eating, wipe off things most commonly touched, e.g., the salt and pepper shakers. The same holds true for the television remove control, as well as the computer keyboard and mouse.

Bathtubs are also loaded with bacteria with a recent study finding staphylococcus bacteria in 26% of the tested standard bathtubs. Whirlpool tubs had even worse statistics. Clean and disinfect the tub with bleach or bathroom cleaner each time you bathe. Dry with a clean towel. Clean out the pipes in whirlpool tubs to prevent bacteria from accumulating.

Many germs are harmless, and some may be good for your health. Protect yourself from the majority of the bad ones by keeping your hands clean. Your hands transfer bacteria and viruses to your eyes, nose, and mouth, as well as to other people. Make it a habit to wash your hands thoroughly for 20 seconds frequently. While hand sanitizer gel can be used to kill germs, it should not replace hand washing.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Pope John Paul II One Step Closer to Sainthood

The Vatican announced that John Paul II will be beatified on May 1, 2011, the first Sunday after Easter. This beatification ceremony, another step along the path to sainthood, will be led by Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter's Square. Hundreds of thousands are expected to attend the ceremony. After it takes place, just six years after his death, the late pope will be known as "the Blessed John Paul II."

In order for beatification, one miracle after death must be confirmed by medical and theological experts. John Paul was credited with the healing of Sister Marie-Simon-Pierre, a nun whose order prayed to the pope after he died. Sister Marie claims to have been cured of Parkinson's disease, a condition that also afflicted the pope. To be officially canonized as a saint of the Roman Catholic Church, a second miracle will have to be confirmed.

John Paul II was born Karol Wojtyla in Poland in 1920. His childhood ambitions were to become a playwright and actor. At the time of his death in April 2005, he was a much loved spiritual leader of the Catholic Church. He spoke over a dozen languages and traveled to more than 100 countries -- an unheard-of and grueling travel schedule. He was charismatic and always met by huge crowds. Many would kiss the ground in his presence.

Pope Benedict, John Paul II's successor, announced shortly after his death that the normal five-year waiting period for beatification and canonization would be waived for the late pope. The intention of this normal time of waiting is to allow time for evidence to collect and supporting witnesses to support the process... as well as to allow time for emotions to wane (and logic prevail) after death. John Paul II, however, set a precedent in 1999 when he allowed Mother Teresa's sainthood process to begin two years after her death.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Colts 2010 Season Wrap-Up

What a disappointing end to an up and down season for my boys in blue. I had such high expectations for the Colts this year... that did not include ending with a record of 6-6. But with the major injuries forcing more and more roster moves... even with the big comeback wins and previously unknowns stepping up to the plate (Fili Miola, Pat Angerer, Kavell Conner, Mike Pollack, Blair White, Ricardo Matthews), the Colts managed to both under achieve and over achieve all the the same season. And had me burned out, thinking we were done, when we were less than half way through the season. It's amazing that we managed to win the four straight must-win games to take the AFC South title.

So, what next to prep for the 2011 season? Re-signing the free agents of course. At the top of the list... Peyton Manning, whose contract expired this year. This is a huge off season. What else?
  • Get Manning better run blockers/pass protectors. I shudder to think about how many 3rd and 1's we failed to convert. Winning a game requires Peyton to set an NFL record for pass attempts and completions every time out. We need for the Colts to have the kind of running game we had when Edgerrin James was in his prime. While Peyton is amazing, we need balance.
  • Special Teams coverage is pathetic. It's impossible to win if the opponents consistently get the ball on the 45 yard line with each kick-off and punt. I think this needs to be addressed at the coaching level.
  • Make good use of the draft. We will have a higher draft position than we have had in some time (21st or 22nd). Make the best of it!
  • Get healthy. We experienced an inordinate amount of injuries this season. Beef up off-season strength and conditioning or whatever else it takes to keep our guys healthy.
2011 looks to be a very promising season.  The chance of a home game for the Super Bowl is realistic! Go Colts!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Big Changes for American Idol Season 10

American Idol is getting a major face lift.... ! Not only are Simon Cowell, Kara DioGuardi and Ellen DeGeneres replaced by Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler, a slew of other changes are in store for the next season. Here goes the rumor mill!
  • The elimination process will now skip the voters straight to one sudden death Top 20 (instead of the three-week Top 24 of season 9), leaving voters with a final top 10, 12 or 15 group. Most likely a top 10 or 12.
  • No more maintaining the same number of girls and boys until the voting starts. This is awesome. I hated watching a fantastic girl (or guy) go home just to keep the numbers balanced!
  • Viewers will be able to vote online in addition to phoning or texting their votes
  • Band leader Rickey Minor (now the band leader on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno) is being replaced by music director Ray Chew
  • The set has gone through a total revamp to a more "arena" feel. The former band section up top is now audience seating
  • Contestants will again live in the Idol mansion and have the opportunity to perform original songs
  • Theme week will be entirely different. No longer will we need to watch an edgy hard rocker struggle through country week. Every song will be customized for each contestant
  • Contestants will be mentored by Interscope/Geffen/A&M music exec Jimmy Iovine
  • Songs will be released as the season progresses instead of waiting until season-end
American Idol Season 10 premieres January 19, 2011 on Fox. It will be exciting to see which of the rumored changes are implemented!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Discovery Channel, Catholic Church Team Up for Spring Exorcism Series

The Discovery Channel is partnering with Catholic priests for a new series that recreates hauntings and demonic possession. The series, titled ''The Exorcist Files," is based on real-life cases investigated by the Catholic Church and includes access to the exorcism case files. Church exorcists will also be interviewed for the series.

The Catholic Church believes that, in rare instances, a demon may inhabit a home, object or person. In the series, over a dozen Roman Catholic exorcists from the United States, Spain, Italy and other countries will be featured in dramatic reenactments of exorcisms and personal stories of the men and their work. People who claim to have been possessed by satanic spirits will also be part of the show, talking about their experiences before, during and after the process. Psychiatrists, theologians and New York Police Department experts on occult crimes will also be interviewed.

The Exorcist Files will debut this spring on Discovery Channel; an exact date has not yet been established.