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Leave Winter Allergy And Asthma Misery Out in the Cold

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The first frost often brings welcome relief from hay fever and the symptoms caused by outdoor allergens. But coming in from the cold means hunkering down with a whole new set of allergy and asthma triggers including dust, pet dander and mold. The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) and its allergist members, doctors who are experts at diagnosing and treating allergies and asthma, offers tips on how to stay sneeze- and sniffle-free indoors this winter.

-- Reduce moisture in your home to keep dust mites in check. Maintain humidity below 55 percent, and don't use a humidifier or a vaporizer.

-- Filter out dust and other allergens by installing a high efficiency furnace filter with a MERV rating of 11 or 12, and be sure to change it every three months.

-- Banish allergens from the bedroom (where you spend a third of your life). "Keep pets and their dander out, and encase mattresses and pillows with dust-mite proof covers," said allergist Dr. Myron Zitt, ACAAI past president. "Limit curtains use blinds that can be washed instead."

-- Keep it clean. A clean home is especially important for allergy sufferers, who should wear a NIOSH-rated N95 mask while dusting, a chore that should be done regularly. Wash bedding and stuffed animals in hot water every 14 days and use a vacuum with a HEPA filter.

-- Turn on the fan or open the window to reduce mold growth in bathrooms (while bathing) and kitchens (while cooking). Wear latex-free gloves and clean visible mold with a five-percent beach solution and detergent.

-- Don't overlook the garage if it's attached to the house. Noxious odors or fumes can trigger asthma, so move insecticides, stored gasoline and other irritants to a shed, and don't start the car and let it run in the garage.

-- Box up books and knick-knacks and limit the number of indoor plants. When you are buying new furniture, like chairs or sofas, opt for leather or other nonporous surfaces to make cleaning easier.

Source: American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI)

 

National Cervical Cancer Awareness Month

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All women are at risk for cervical cancer. Each year, approximately 12,000 women in the United States get cervical cancer. However, most cervical cancer cases are easily preventable and highly curable when found and treated early.

The human papillomavirus (HPV) is the main cause of cervical cancer. HPV is a common virus that is passed from one person to another during sex. Most of the time, HPV goes away by itself within two years and does not cause health problems. It is thought that the immune system fights off HPV naturally. It is only when HPV stays in the body for many years that it can cause these cancers. At least half of sexually active people will have HPV at some point in their lives, but few women will get cervical cancer.
Preventing Cervical Cancer through Vaccination and Screening

Cervical cancer can be prevented with routine cervical cancer screening and follow-up of abnormal results. The Pap test can find abnormal cells on the cervix so that they can be removed before cancer develops. Abnormal cells often become normal over time, but can sometimes turn into cancer. These cells can usually be treated depending on their severity and on the woman's age, past medical history, and other test results. An HPV DNA test, which can find HPV on a woman's cervix, may also be used with a Pap test in certain cases. Even women who were vaccinated when they were younger need regular cervical cancer screening because the vaccines do not protect against all cervical cancers.

Other steps to lower the risk for cervical cancer include not smoking, using condoms during sex, and limiting one's number of sexual partners.

 

FDA Warns Consumers not to use Fruta Planta Weight Loss Products

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altFast Facts

    * PRock Marketing LLC, of Kissimmee, Fla., is recalling all lots of Fruta Planta and Reduce Weight Fruta Planta. This is a single product marketed under two brand names. (See Fruta Planta label)
    * FDA testing confirmed that Fruta Planta contains sibutramine, a drug withdrawn from the market in December 2010 for safety reasons.
    * The FDA has received multiple reports of adverse events associated with the use of Fruta Planta and Reduce Weight Fruta Planta, including several cardiac events and one death.
    * Consumers should stop using this product immediately and throw it away in a sealed container where children and animals cannot gain access to it. Consumers who have experienced any negative side effects should consult a health care professional as soon as possible.

 
What is the Problem?

 
PRock Marketing LLC, is voluntarily recalling all lots of Fruta Planta and Reduce Weight Fruta Planta because FDA testing determined that the product contains sibutramine. Sibutramine is a drug that was withdrawn from the market in December 2010 for safety reasons. The FDA has received multiple reports of adverse events associated with the use of Fruta Planta and Reduce Weight Fruta Planta, including several cardiac events and one death.
 
What are the Symptoms of Illness/Injury?
 
Fruta Planta and Reduce Weight Fruta Planta poses a threat to consumers because sibutramine is known to increase blood pressure and/or pulse rate in some patients and may present a serious risk for patients with a history of coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, arrhythmias or stroke.  Sibutramine may also interact in life-threatening ways with other medications a consumer may be taking.
 
What Do Consumers Need To Do?
 
Consumers should stop using this product immediately. Consumers who have experienced any negative side effects should consult a health care professional as soon as possible. PRock Marketing’s recall notice recommends that consumers throw the product away in a sealed container where children and animals cannot gain access to it or return it to the company. Consumers may reach the company at 877-225-1009 Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 
 
Health care professionals and patients are encouraged to report adverse events or side effects related to the use of this product to the FDA's MedWatch Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program by:
 

    * Completing and submitting the adverse report Online: www.fda.gov/MedWatch/report.htm;
    * Downloading the pre-addressed, postage-paid FDA Form 3500 (or calling 1-800-332-1088 to request the form), completing it and faxing it to 1-800-FDA-0178; or
    * Mailing the completed form to MedWatch 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20857.

 
What Does the Product Look Like?
 
Fruta Planta and Reduce Weight Fruta Planta is available in 30-capsule boxes. (See Fruta Planta label)
 
Where is it Distributed?
 
Fruta Planta and Reduce Weight Fruta Planta is sold online at www.frutaplanta.com and other online retailers.
     
Who Should be Contacted?

 
PRock Marketing’s recall notice recommends that consumers destroy the product or return it to the company. Consumers may reach the company at 877-225-1009 Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
 
For more information:
 
FDA Public Notification: Fruta Planta Contains Undeclared Drug Ingredient: http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/BuyingUsingMedicineSafely/MedicationHealthFraud/ucm237980.htm
 
FDA Medication Health Fraud Page: http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/BuyingUsingMedicineSafely/MedicationHealthFraud/default.htm

 

Dirty Dozen Fish

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Much of the fish available in the United States is imported from places where safety, health and environmental standards for catching or growing fish are non-existent or inadequate. Less than 2 percent of imported seafood is inspected for contamination. Not to mention, many popular wild fish have been caught using gear that can hurt natural habitat and other wildlife, may contain substances like mercury or PCBs (Polychlorinated biphenyls), and have been managed poorly and are depleted.

Food & Water Watch, a non-profit, has come out with a Dirty Dozen list for fish. They selected fish that fail at least two of the following criteria for safe and sustainable seafood:

•    The fish contains mercury or PCBs that can cause serious health problems.
•    The fish is imported from countries where health, environmental or safety standards for growing or catching fish are weak and/or non-existent.
•    Many wild fish are managed poorly, are caught using gear that can hurt habitat and other wildlife, and/or the stocks are becoming depleted.
•    Less than 2% of imported fish to the U.S. is tested for contamination.

Here is their Dirty Dozen Fish List (the order listed does not reflect a ranking):

1. Atlantic Cod
2. Atlantic Flatfish, e.g. Atlantic halibut, flounders and sole
3. Caviar, especially from beluga and other wild-caught sturgeon
4. Chilean Seabass
5. Eel
6. Farmed Salmon, often called “Atlantic salmon.” (Tip: don’t be fooled by “organic” salmon – it’s usually farmed internationally and not certified by U.S. standards.)
7. Imported Basa/Swai/Tra: (Tip: These are often called “catfish” — ask where it is from and check country of origin labels.)
8. Imported farmed shrimp
9. Imported King Crab
10. Orange Roughy
11. Shark
12. Tuna, especially Atlantic Bluefin (Pacific Albacore and Atlantic Skipjack are exempted)

Check out their informative Smart Seafood Guide.

 

FDA Announces Recall of Abbott Glucose Test Strips

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today announced the agency is working with Abbott Diabetes Care to recall 359 different lots of glucose test strips marketed under the following brand names:

    * Precision Xceed Pro;
    * Precision Xtra;
    * Medisense Optium;
    * Optium;
    * OptiumEZ; and
    * ReliOn Ultima

These strips are used with Abbott’s Precision Xtra, Precision Xceed Pro, MediSense Optium, Optium, Optium EZ and ReliOn Ultima blood glucose monitoring systems. As many as 359 million strips may be affected by the recall. The blood glucose monitoring systems are not affected by this recall.

The recall pertains to certain lots of these test strips distributed in the United States and Puerto Rico. Other Abbott Diabetes Care products are not affected by the recall.

The test strips being recalled may give falsely low blood glucose results. False results may lead patients to try to raise their blood glucose unnecessarily, or they may fail to treat elevated blood glucose because of a false, low reading.  Both scenarios pose risks to a patient’s health.

The recall is related to the test strips’ inability to absorb enough blood for monitoring. Strips exposed to warm weather or prolonged storage may be more likely to provide a false result.

The test strips were manufactured between January and September 2010 and are sold both in retail and online settings directly to consumers, but are also used in health care facilities.

The FDA has provided recommendations for consumers and health care professionals below that explain how to determine whether a particular lot is affected, how to order free replacement strips and how to use recalled strips to reduce the likelihood a false result.

“Patients with diabetes should be aware of the recalled glucose test strips and take steps to prevent them from affecting their health,” said Alberto Gutierrez, Ph.D., director for the Office of In Vitro Diagnostics in FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “FDA and Abbott are reviewing the cause of the manufacturing defect to avoid this problem in the future.”

To determine if you have product being recalled:

    * Call Abbott Diabetes Care customer service at 1-800-448-5234 (English) and 1-800-709-7010 (Spanish) to speak with a customer service representative.
    * Visit www.precisionoptiuminfo.com to look up test strip lot numbers.

Consumers should report serious adverse events (side effects) with the device to the FDA's MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program either online, by regular mail, fax, or phone.

    * Online
    * Regular Mail: use postage-paid, pre-addressed Form FDA 3500 available at: www.fda.gov/MedWatch/getforms.htm. Mail to address on the pre-addressed form.
    * Fax: 800-FDA-0178
    * Phone: 800-332-1088

Recommendations for Consumers Who Purchased the Precision Xtra, Optium, OptiumEZ, and ReliOn Ultima Blood Glucose Blood Glucose Test Strips

For consumers who purchased test strips in retail stories or online, FDA recommends:

    * Calling Abbott for a replacement of the affected strips. Abbott will send you unaffected Precision Xtra, Optium, OptiumEZ, and ReliOn Ultima Blood Glucose Test Strips at no charge.
    * While waiting for the replacement strips to arrive, use an alternate method to measure blood glucose (such as a different test system) or purchase at least two weeks worth of new, unaffected strips while waiting for replacement strips.
    * If you purchase Precision Xtra, Optium, OptiumEZ, and ReliOn Ultima Blood Glucose Test Strips in a store or online, check to be sure these are from unaffected lots. Ask a pharmacist to help you.
    * If the only test strips available to you are from affected lots, do not stop testing your blood glucose. But do take the following two precautions to reduce the chance of erroneous reading:

Precaution 1: Check the amount of time it takes for your blood glucose meter to start the “countdown” after you first apply blood to the test strip. Start timing immediately after blood first makes contact with the test strip.  If your meter takes longer than five (5) seconds to start the countdown that test strip is defective and the result should not be used.

Check the time for each test strip you use because all of the strips in a package may not be affected to the same degree.

Precaution 2: If any reading from a strip appears lower than you would expect or does not seem to match the way you are feeling, you should contact your health care provider.

Pay special attention to signs and symptoms of high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) and low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).

    * Symptoms of high blood sugar include excessive thirst, excessive urination, blurred vision, weakness, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms or are not feeling well, contact your health care professional immediately.
    * Symptoms of low blood sugar may include trembling, excessive sweating, weakness, hunger, confusion, and headache. Some individuals may have no symptoms at all before they develop unconsciousness or seizures. It is important to treat low blood sugars promptly to avoid loss of consciousness or a seizure.  If you are unable to obtain unaffected strips, you should contact your health care provider for advice on how to treat these symptoms before they occur.

Recommendations for Health care Professionals using Precision Xceed Pro Blood Glucose System

If you have affected strips, FDA recommends the following:

    * If available, immediately switch to using test strips from unaffected lots.
    * If your facility does not have any test strips from unaffected lots, and you have immediate access to an alternate Point of Care blood glucose testing system within your healthcare facility, discontinue use of the Precision Xceed Pro Blood Glucose Test System and use the alternate method until you can obtain unaffected Precision Xceed Pro Blood Glucose Test Strip lots.
    * If your facility does not have test strips from unaffected lots, and you do NOT have immediate access to an alternate Point of Care blood glucose testing system, FDA recommends the following procedures:

   1. Verify any critical glucose test results (e.g., test results that may be used to adjust insulin therapy in vulnerable patient populations) generated on the Precision Xceed Pro Blood Glucose Test System using a central laboratory blood glucose method. Medical judgment should be applied when deciding whether to act on results prior to verification.
   2. Verify any Precision Xceed Pro Blood Glucose Test System results that do not match a patient’s symptoms, or seem unexpected for the patient’s clinical status, using a central laboratory blood glucose method.
   3. When using the Precision Xceed Pro Blood Glucose Test System, take precautions to reduce the chance of an erroneous reading. Limited evidence suggests that results may be accurate using strips from affected lots if fill time does not exceed five seconds. Monitor the amount of time it takes for the Precision Xceed Blood Glucose Meter to start the “countdown” after blood is first applied to the test strip. If the amount of time exceeds five (5) seconds, discard that test strip immediately because the blood glucose result may be erroneously low. In addition, if this occurs:
      i. Note the specific lot number of that test strip;
      ii. Notify Abbott Diabetes Care to report the observed problem with that lot by calling 1-877-529-7185;
      iii. Make sure to check fill time on each individual strip during use and do not assume if one strip in a package/lot appears to be unaffected, that all strips in that package/lot are unaffected.

 
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