One Patient’s Experience: The 8 Week Lifestyle Challenge

Since we are starting our second 8 Week Lifestyle Challenge on Monday via our Facebook Page, I wanted to re-post the thoughts of one of my patients upon completion of the first 8 Week Lifestyle Challenge. I hope you find her words as inspirational as I do.

Living a Long & Happy Life

One of my patients recently shared her “inspirations” and “experiences” upon completion of the 8 Week Lifestyle Challenge. What I found to be most interesting was her mindset throughout the challenge. She remained positive, embraced trying new things, encouraged herself daily and did not set unrealistic expectations. I believe this set the stage for her success. I am posting her comments here in the hope that some of you can benefit from her experiences. Congrats, C!

I am a participant in the 8 Week Lifestyle Challenge! I officially started this challenge on January 28, 2014.  I followed the directions and wrote down my inspirations to be successful.


  • I can do all things through Christ which strengthen me when I am not strong.
  • I want to eat to live…not eat to destroy my body anymore.
  • Many foods are available to me but that doesn’t mean I have to eat…

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Tossing Lettuce in Olive Oil Boosts Heart Health

olive oil

The following article was written by Fiona Macrae and was published on Here is a link to the original article.

Drizzling your salad with olive oil won’t just make it more tasty. It could also help keep your blood pressure down. A sprinkling of nuts or a few slices of avocado could also help. The advice follows a British study that suggests that unsaturated fats found in olive oil make lettuce extra good for us.

The researchers, from King’s College London, say that when we eat the two types of food, a chemical reaction occurs in the stomach. This creates compounds called nitro fatty acids. These, in turn, react with an enzyme to lower high blood pressure, experiments on mice showed. Often dubbed the ‘silent killer’ because the symptoms go unnoticed until late, high blood pressure trebles the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

It can also damage the kidneys and eyes and is becoming increasingly linked to dementia. The finding, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that doing something as simple as tossing salad in olive oil could make a difference to health. The two key ingredients for the chemical reaction to occur are the unsaturated fats found in olive oil olive oil, nuts, avocados and oily fish and compounds called nitrites and nitrates found in high levels in many salad vegetables. Good sources of nitrates and nitrates include lettuce, spinach, celery, carrots and beetroot.

Those who don’t fancy feasting on salad may eventually have another option. An American scientist who worked on the study with the British team is trying to create a pill that produces the benefits of nitro fatty acids, without the need to eat copious amounts of lettuce. King’s College London researcher Philip Eaton said the study could help explain why the Mediterranean diet is good for the heart – despite followers eating large amounts of olive oil and other fats. He said, ‘The findings of our study help explain why previous research has shown that a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts can reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems like stroke, heart failure and heart attacks.”
Dr Sanjay Thakkar, of the British Heart Foundation, which co-funded the research said, ‘This interesting study goes some way to explain why a Mediterranean diet appears to be good for your heart health. The results showed a way in which a particular compound could combat high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease.However, more work is necessary as these experiments were conducted in mice and this compound could also be having its effect through other pathways.”


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Understanding Vocal Cord Dysfunction

Whereas asthma is a disease of inflammation of the lower airway, vocal cord dysfunction is a disease involving inflammation of the larynx or upper airway. Symptoms of vocal cord dysfunction can often mimic asthma. Patients describe shortness of breath with exercise, shortness of breath when lying flat, tightening of the throat, an inability to take a deep or full breath, and inspiratory wheezing. Symptoms can sometimes be frightening and can mimic those of a panic attack, resulting in a misdiagnosis.

There are four predominant causes of vocal cord dysfunction. These include acid reflux, postnasal drip, occupational exposure, and/or inflamed nerves that effect the larynx. Some experts have described this as a fibromyalgia of the larynx. Diagnosis is often made based on clinical history, and can be confirmed with tests such as a flow-volume loop, which we perform in our office, or laryngoscopy.

It is possible to have both asthma and vocal cord dysfunction. A diagnosis usually involves understanding the etiology of vocal cord dysfunction and then recommending a course of treatment accordingly. Generally, lifestyle recommendations are given to address acid reflux, as well as medications to suppress acid temporarily and allow for healing. Diagnosing and treating upper airway diseases by addressing environmental triggers as well as using appropriate medications can significantly improve symptoms. How a patient responds to therapy determines the need for further medications and treatment.

Do You Need Allergy Shots?


Allergy shots, also called “immunotherapy,” can reduce reactions to allergens and result in less severe symptoms. Unlike medications, an effective period of treatment with allergy shots can result in symptoms that are less severe or disappear altogether, even after allergy shots are stopped. Potential reasons for starting allergy shots include:

  • Allergy symptoms are severe enough that the benefit from the shots outweighs the expense and time from getting the shots.
  • Allergy symptoms are not being adequately controlled with medications.
  • Side effects from medications pose a problem.
  • The patient wants treatment for the cause of their allergies rather than treatment for just the symptoms.
  • The patient has another condition that is being affected by allergic rhinitis such as asthma, or recurrent sinus or ear infections.
  • To reduce the risk of developing asthma.

Allergy shots are effective in treating both allergic rhinitis and allergic asthma. The shots reduce symptoms in patients who are allergic to pollens, animal dander, dust mites, mold, and cockroaches. Allergy shots are most effective when used in combination with medication and environmental controls. Patients taking allergy shots generally require less medication.

When you start immunotherapy, you may initially be asked to come to the office twice a week for shots. This is because initially the serum dosage is very dilute. With each shot, a little more allergen is given until a maintenance dose is reached. This helps the body develop a tolerance to the allergen and symptoms are reduced. Once the maintenance dose is reached, allergy shots are spread out to every other week and eventually once a month. After 6 months to one year, you and your doctor should have a good sense if allergy shots are going to be an effective treatment for you. If they do appear effective, your doctor will recommend a course of allergy shot treatments lasting 3-5 years, generally speaking.  

Most patients tolerate allergy shots without incidence, but reactions are possible. To reduce risk, we recommend that patients are observed in the doctor’s office for 20- 30 minutes after each shot. Patients who do not have an EpiPen must stay 30 minutes. It is during this 30 minute time frame that the most serious reactions tend to occur. The risk of having an allergic reaction can be reduced by taking antihistamines prior to receiving your allergy shot. If you receive allergy shots on a regular schedule without missing doses, you are less likely to have a reaction to an allergy shot. Different types of reactions include:

Local Reactions: Redness or swelling at the injection site (usually not a problem).

Systemic Reactions: May include sneezing, nasal congestion or hives. Swelling of the throat or chest tightness may also occur. If you experience these symptoms after receiving an allergy shot in our office, notify a member of our staff immediately.

Anaphylaxis: This is the most severe kind of reaction and it is extremely rare. It can cause low blood pressure and trouble breathing. If this were to occur, symptoms would usually begin within 30 minutes of the injection.

As an extra precaution, we generally recommend that our patients have an EpiPen on hand. If a systemic reaction occurs after you leave the office you should return to our office immediately or go to the emergency room. 

For further information or to schedule an appointment, please contact our practice at 410-224-5558.


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Improving Six Risk Factors Could Delay 37 Million Deaths

The following article was written by Kelly Young and originally published on

Achieving global targets for six modifiable risk factors could delay or prevent roughly 37 million deaths over 15 years, according to a Lancet study.

Researchers used country data on mortality to estimate the effects of achieving the following targets:

— reducing prevalence of tobacco use by 30%

— reducing per-person alcohol consumption by 10%

— reducing mean population consumption of salt by 30%

— reducing prevalence of hypertension by 25%

— stopping the increase in diabetes prevalence

— stopping the increase in obesity prevalence

If all six targets are achieved by 2025, it could lead to a roughly 20% reduction in the probability of premature death (ages 30 to 70) from four noncommunicable diseases. The largest benefits, the authors write, would come from reducing tobacco use and lowering blood pressure.

A commentator writes: “These are remarkable potential health gains in view of the highly cost-effective interventions available, which could be readily scaled up in all countries.”