| Why parents shouldn’t self-diagnose allergies in kids

Children are exposed to environments that can be threatening to their health. And in most cases parents find themselves panicking because something strange is happening to their child. As a result parents find themselves rushing for home remedies without thinking of the medical implications they have.

Dr Claudia Gray, a paediatric allergist says she deals with many cases where parents self-medicate and only once the home remedies don’t work do they consult with a GP. Often children have unknown allergies or misdiagnosed or the symptoms are similar to other conditions.

Dr Gray says to avoid self-diagnosis and she encourages parents to have their children tested correctly to determine if they have an allergy.

“Specialist allergist are available to make the correct diagnosis and dispel allergy myths and institute a management plan.”

“As a paediatric allergist I spend as much time counselling families that their issues are not due to allergies as do I diagnose allergies”, she says. 

1. Allergy to exercise


It may seem bizarre, but some people can have an allergic reaction during exercise that can lead to anaphylaxis.

For some people, specific foods trigger anaphylaxis when exercise follows ingestion. Others suffer from anaphylaxis after meals followed by exercise, a study published in the International Archives of the Allergy and Immunology journal explains.

According to an article published in American Family Physician, exercise can produce a spectrum of allergic reactions ranging from erythematous, irritating skin eruptions to a life-threatening anaphylactic shock.

Parents should be on the lookout for hives, swelling, trouble breathing, wheezing, low blood pressure, severe itching, nausea and headaches during exercise. 

2. Allergies to henna tattoos


Children are often attracted to the henna stall at markets or fairs where they can get a temporary henna tattoo. Henna is a reddish-brown or greenish-brown vegetable colouring derived from the leaves of the henna plant.

Cases reported that some children can be allergic to para-phenylenediamine (PPD) that’s used to darken the natural henna form.  

In some cases, the henna-tattooed skin will swell and blister, often keeping the shape of the original tattoo. In severe cases it can lead to scarring so beware of those fun holiday tattoos! 

3. Allergies to certain food additives


Many substances are added to food to flavour or preserve the food. Reactions to preservatives and additives are rare, but can lead to unexpected allergic-type reactions.

Dr Gray describes her experience working with children allergic to Monosodium glutamate (MSG).

“I have recently seen a spate of rashes or even drop in blood pressure/increase in heart rate in response to the anti-oxidant TBHQ (tertiary butylhydroquinone), commonly added to health bars and crisps.”

Excessive consumption of MSG can lead to the “Chinese restaurant syndrome” according to an article in Monosodium glutamate ‘’allergy’’: menace or myth. It causes symptoms that include headaches, body pains, chest tightness, flushing and sweating. Dr Gray says these symptoms can mimic anaphylaxis, but is a chemical reaction to the MSG instead.

“I have seen a few children end up in the ER with this somewhat mysterious reaction after eating highly flavoured foods and even Chinese sherbet!”

According to Dr Gray, a MSG reaction usually subside within one to two hours as the body metabolises the MSG.  

Dr Gray encourages parents not to take allergy-like symptoms lightly and to consult with medical professionals to get the proper treatment. | Is eating after 6pm really making you fat?

“I don’t truly know where this rule came from,” says Dana Hunnes, PhD, MPH, RD, senior dietitian at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and adjunct assistant professor at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, noting that there’s nothing magical about 6pm.

And honestly, who is even home from work – let alone sitting at the kitchen table – by 6pm?

The clock-weight connection

That being said, while the body doesn’t fiendishly stockpile food as fat when the clock strikes 6pm, eating at night is linked to weight gain. 

And limiting late-night eating has been shown to result in weight loss, too. This is likely because no one gets out of bed in the middle of the night to raid the refrigerator for kale.

Read more: 3 ways to curb your late-night cravings

“People are eating a bag of chips, sweets or other potentially high-calorie foods,” says Hunnes. So eliminating late-night eating often results in eating healthier. 

Case in point: When Brigham Young University researchers had 29 young men stop eating between 7pm and 6am for two weeks, they lost an average of about half a kilo.

When they were allowed to eat at night for the following two weeks, they gained 0.6kg back. 

This all came down to calories: When the guys cut out nighttime snacking, they reduced their daily intake by an average of 996 kilojoules.

Hungry at night? Do this

A lot of late-night munching is mindless, which isn’t helping either. Mindless eating is consistently linked to overeating and weight gain. 

But if you’re legitimately hungry in the evening or even late at night, don’t be afraid to eat. You should never push through hunger pangs because of what the clock says.

That philosophy doesn’t really work for weight-loss and it fosters an unhealthy relationship with food. 

Instead, reach for foods like produce, whole grains or lean proteins, says Hunnes.

And keep portions on the small side – you can always go back for seconds if you’re still hungry.

Read more: The 4 worst and best things to eat before bed

If late-night hunger is a pretty typical occurrence for you, you’re probably not eating enough during the first half of the day. 

“Instead of thinking about not eating in the evening, focus on fuelling well all day long,” says dietitian Anna Rossinoff, RD, and co-founder of Eat with Zest.

“Clients tell me that they try to cut back on calories throughout the day, but they get home from work and find themselves eating out of control,” says Rossinoff.

Your body doesn’t really know what time it is, but it does know when it’s deprived of fuel, she says. 

Your move: Start your day off with a hearty breakfast containing about 20g of protein. Follow that with another protein-rich balanced meal every three to four hours, says Rossinoff.

“If you end up eating after 6pm, don’t sweat it,” she says. “But, if you fuel yourself adequately all day long, you probably won’t be nearly as hungry at night,” she says.

Read more: Here’s the eating schedule you should follow for optimal health

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NEXT ON HEALTH24X | This is the best workout for weight loss, according to science

When you’re working out to drop kilos, choosing a plan or even just a class that gives you the most fat-burning power for your hour can be extremely confusing.

But now, a new study is breaking down which workouts are actually worth your time.

For the study, published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, researchers set out to determine how different aerobic training programs affected weight loss, fat mass, muscle strength and overall physical fitness in a group of overweight and obese women.

They randomly assigned 32 overweight women to either a low-impact aerobic workout that included strength training or a high-impact aerobics program.

Read more: Which is actually better: cardio or weights?

High-impact aerobics

The high-impact program had participants working out four times a week with intense, hour-long cardio classes.

High-impact workouts, which focus on moves that bring both of your feet off the ground at the same time, can include cardio kickboxing, cardio dance classes, boot camp classes or high-intensity interval training (think: jump squats, burpeesand high knees).

For this study, women in the high-impact group spent five to 10 minutes warming up, followed by 40 minutes of training, and then five to 10 minutes of cool down.

During the course of the study, the women worked towards getting their heart rate to 85% of their max heart rate.

Low-impact aerobics and cardio

Those following the low-impact program worked out the same amount, but combined strength training with low-impact cardio, meaning no jumping.

During each session, the women warmed up for five to 10 minutes, spent 30 minutes doing “rhythmic” aerobics (like a step class), followed by 20 minutes of strength training via resistance machines.

During each session they performed moves like leg extensions, bench presses, triceps extensions and biceps curls. Then they spent the last five to 10 minutes cooling down.

Read more: 3 major things your resting heart rate can tell you about your health

During their training program, the participants increased their heart rate to 65% of their max. At the same time, they gradually increased the weight they lifted from 60% of their one-rep max (or the most weight they could lift one time) to 80%. In other words, they were lifting heavy.

The results

After 24 weeks of working out with each of the plans, the researchers found that both groups of women lost weight and improved their overall fitness.

But the women in the high-intensity training group lost more fat mass, body fat (7% versus 3%), and body weight (about 4.5kgs versus 2.7kgs) than the low-impact cardio and strength-training group.

However, the women who lifted weights gained more metabolism-boosting lean muscle. The women in the high-intensity training group didn’t gain any lean mass.

The bottom line

Okay, so crushing heart-pumping, high-intensity workouts is great for losing more fat fast and dropping kilos but that doesn’t mean that low-impact moves and strength training are a total waste of time.

Instead of writing off muscle-building moves, incorporate strength training and low-impact exercises into your balls-to-the-walls workouts. That way you’ll boost your metabolism by building muscle and continue to burn fat and kilojoules with sweat-so-hard workouts.

Looking for workout tips? Here are 5 ways to get the most of your workout, plus here’s Amanda du Pont’s flat abs secret.

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