Posts by Elizabeth Smoots MD

Lifestyle more Potent than Ancestry

Posted on Aug 18, 2013 | Comments Off on Lifestyle more Potent than Ancestry

Lifestyle more Potent than Ancestry

Many of us learned in school that disease is largely determined by the genes we inherited from our ancestors. If our parents had heart disease, we might get it too, and there’s nothing we could do about it. But this fatalistic attitude has been challenged by a rapidly growly area of science referred to as “epigenetics.” Epi” means “on top of.” The knowledge is above and beyond our understanding of the genetics that determine your hair color and intelligence quotient (IQ). Epigenetics is the study of how changes in gene expression are caused by mechanisms other than changes in your underlying genetic code. Let’s stop a minute and compare it to computers. Think of...

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Insect Stings Can Cause Allergic Reactions

Posted on Aug 9, 2013 | Comments Off on Insect Stings Can Cause Allergic Reactions

Insect Stings Can Cause Allergic Reactions

Most people who are stung by insects have a local reaction like swelling and itching of the site. More generalized symptoms are a sign of a possible allergic reaction. Symptoms may include hives, stomach upset, dizziness, increased pulse or trouble breathing. If this happens, go immediately to the emergency room for care since symptoms may progress rapidly into a life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. Effective treatments are available for people with allergies to stinging insects. Epinephrine shots that you can give to yourself are available by prescription; consult with your physician to see if you need one. Allergy shots given in an allergist’s...

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Health Linked to Healthy Gut Flora

Posted on Jul 25, 2013 | Comments Off on Health Linked to Healthy Gut Flora

Health Linked to Healthy Gut Flora

You are not alone. Scientists have learned that people are really super-organisms made up of human cells and microbes. Scientists involved in the Human Microbiome Project have sequenced the genes of bacteria from 15 sites on the bodies of 242 people followed for more than two years. In the American Gut Project, researchers are sequencing the microbiome of hundreds–and eventually thousands–of Americans. Other countries around the world have also joined the massive research effort to gain a better understanding of the human microbiome. Our microbiome consists of all of the genes in all the microbes that live in or on us. What we have learned so far is truly...

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Eczema Linked to other Health Problems

Posted on Jul 10, 2013 | Comments Off on Eczema Linked to other Health Problems

Eczema Linked to other Health Problems

Eczema, also called atopic dermatitis, causes itchy, inflamed skin along the elbows, hands, face, neck, backs of the knees and other parts of the body. It has long been known the chronic skin condition often occurs in people who have hay fever and asthma. Last month a study in the journal Pediatric Allergy and Immunology showed that children and teens with eczema are at increased risk for other chronic illnesses. In the study, the researchers surveyed the parents of more than 90,000 children and teens between the ages 0 and 17 years who were part of the 2007 National Survey of Children’s Health. They found that those with severe eczema had poorer overall health...

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Worldwide Rise in Allergies Expected

Posted on Jun 29, 2013 | Comments Off on Worldwide Rise in Allergies Expected

Worldwide Rise in Allergies Expected

If present trends continue, about 50 percent of children around the globe will have some sort of allergies by 2050, according to the World Health Organization. I think the idea is mind-boggling. Can you image one out of every two children you know having food allergies, asthma, eczema, urticarial (skin rashes or hives), hay fever or other types of allergies? The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported that the frequency of food allergies and skin allergies has increased dramatically over the past 14 years. The rate of food allergies has gone from 3.4 percent in 1997 to 5.1 percent in 2011. For eczema and other skin allergies, the rate has...

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