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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What is Sun Allergy ?

[Extracted from Wisegeek.com]

A sun allergy is a condition in which someone's skin reacts to sunlight, developing redness, itching, and hives as a result of sun exposure. There are several different types of sun allergy, and sometimes a sun allergy can be a symptom of an underlying medical problem, so it is a good idea to seek medical advice for sun allergy symptoms or any other dermatological problem. For people with sun allergies, there are several different treatment options to consider, depending on the cause of the allergy.

The signs of a sun allergy look a lot like a sunburn, except that skin irritation in reaction to sunlight, known as photodermatosis, emerges within minutes of sun exposure, rather than developing after hours of exposure. The patient may feel itchy or tingly, and the area of skin exposed to the sun turns red and bumpy. Sometimes, a sun allergy may emerge under lightweight clothing as well. The area of irritation usually returns to normal within a day, unlike a sunburn, which can take days or weeks to heal.

When photodermatosis appears, there are several potential causes, including polymorphous light eruption, actinic prurigo, and solar urticaria. These reactions are usually caused by a confused immune system which reacts to compounds in sun-exposed skin. Several proteins change structure when they are exposed to sunlight, making them potential targets of the immune system. It is also possible to develop what is known as a photoallergic eruption in response to the use of medications which increase sun sensitivity, causing rashes, hives, and redness on sun-exposed skin.

A doctor usually diagnoses a sun allergy by exposing skin to wavelengths commonly found in sunlight. If the patient reacts, additional testing may be conducted to determine the cause. Sometimes, a sun allergy can be resolved with desensitization therapy, in which a dermatologist carefully exposes the patient for set periods of time. Antihistamines and topical creams may also be used to treat the symptoms of a sun allergy, and to reduce the severity of future outbreaks.

Some conditions like porphyria can also cause what looks like a sun allergy, which is why it is important to seek medical care. In rare cases, people have developed very aggressive immune responses to sunlight, resulting in anaphylactic shock after sun exposure, which is another critical reason to seek medical attention for a suspected sun allergy.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

How Does our Bodies Age ?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/graphic/2006/12/04/GR2006120400761.html

Friday, October 9, 2009

World’s deadliest delicacies

[Extracted from Hotel Club Travel Blog]

Some people are really careful about what they eat, try to cut down on fats and sugar to ensure a healthy life, others just don’t care and stuff themselves with all kinds of junk foods. But there’s another type of people, those that gamble with their lives for a rush of adrenalin or for a taste they find irresistible.

Here are the world’s deadliest delicacies:



Cassava

Cassava crops are very common in Africa and South America because they have the ability to grow in unfertile soil and withstand long droughts extremely well. They are very hard to find in other parts of the world and are richer in carbohydrates than maize and cereal crops.

They do however have a major flaw, the ability to kill a person. Cassava roots contain cyanogenic glycosides that are converted into hydrogen cyanide by an enzyme called linamarase. This happens when the plant’s cells are ruptured, most often when it is eaten. That’s why Cassava has to be processed very carefully, if consumed raw it can cause death.



Ackee

Ackee has become the national fruit of Jamaica, even though it is not native to the island. It was imported around 1780 from West Africa. Ackee fruits are rich in essential fatty acids, vitamin A, zinc and protein and are an important ingredient in many Caribbean dishes.

Still, if you’re ever in Jamaica, don’t go stuffing your face with Ackee fruits, it may be the last thing you do. Unripe Ackee fruits contain dangerous alkanoid poisons that provoke serious vomiting, seizures and even fatal hypoglycemia. Even when ripe, Ackees are not eaten entirely, the shiny black seeds and the red shell are discarded, only the soft inside is edible.



Apple

An apple a day keeps the doctor away! Entirely true, but, if you eat the seeds, he might stay away because there’s nothing he can do to help you.

Scientists have discovered that eating a large quantity of apple seeds is extremely hazardous to our health, because they contain a certain amount of cyanogenic glycoside, commonly known as cyanide. The amount of seed necessary to cause damage isn’t known yet, but the seeds of just one apple should have no negative effect on an adult. Children are more vulnerable however and should be taught to avoid eating the apple whole.

Symptoms of apple-seed intoxication include abdominal pains, vomiting, excessive sweating, coma and even death.



Snake

Like scorpions, tarantulas and other spiders, snake poison is neutralized when the meat is cooked, so you shouldn’t be worried about side effects if you don’t eat them raw. However in China and other Asian countries, snake parts are sometimes eaten raw, like the snake blood, a delicacy many of us probably couldn’t stomach. The snake is gutted, the blood gathered in a small glass and then mixed with the bile.

Chinese believe this a powerful aphrodisiac that also has the power to cure sexual deficiencies. Normally there shouldn’t be any danger, since the venom is collected in the snake’s head, but it can sometimes be present in its blood. So if you’re going to try snake blood, make sure you say a prayer before.



Puffer Fish

Definitely the world’s most popular toxic delicacy, the Puffer Fish may look funny but it’s definitely no joke. It contains high levels of tetrodotoxin, a powerful poison that paralyzes the muscles, eventually killing the victim through asphyxiation. The poison is present mostly in the liver, ovaries and skin and only licensed chefs are allowed to cook this dangerous meal. Seems only normal if we remember that, in medieval times, the chef had to share the client’s fate if he didn’t remove the poison correctly.

People die every year from fugu poisoning since there is still no cure for tetrodotoxin, all doctors can do is sustain the respiratory and circulatory systems until the poison wears off. Despite all this, Fugu is as popular as ever.

The Most Dangerous Creatures of the Sea

[Extracted from Hotel Club Travel Blog]

As quiet as the sea may seem, you should keep in mind the dangers lurking beneath the surface. Here’s a look at the deadliest creatures living in the water.



Lionfish

Members of the Scorpaenidae fish family, the Lionfish are native to the Indian and Pacific oceans but various species can be found all over the world. Also known as the Turkey Fish or Dragon Fish, it has long poisonous spines that are deadly to many marine creatures. The Lionfish sting is not usually deadly to humans but it will cause severe pain, headaches and vomiting.

Lionfish don’t attack people unless provoked, but in case you get stung you should immediately soak the area in hot water and seek medical help.



Stonefish

The Stonefish is a master of camouflage, which makes it even more dangerous, as people often get to close without realizing it. They can be found on the sea bottom and around coral reefs, disguised as rocks. The Stonefish is the most poisonous fish in the world. It has 13 spikes on its back, all filled with extremely potent, protein-based venom. Depending on how deep the sting is, this venom can kill a person in a few hours unless he receives medical attention.

Getting stung by a Stonefish causes excruciating pain, shock and paralysis. Surviving victims of Stonefish encounters have been known to suffer nerve damage which leads to muscle atrophy.



Sea Urchins

No one in his right mind would get close to anything as spiny as a sea urchin, but walking in the water makes it easier for people to step on them. Sea Urchins have long sharp spines that penetrate very deep and sometimes break, causing severe pain and infection. In most sting cases, the spines have to be removed surgically.

Not all Sea Urchins are venomous but one of the most dangerous, the Flower urchins can be deadly. It looks like its body is covered by flowers instead of thorns, but they are in fact venomous and can cause paralysis or, even worse, death. There have been several reports of people killed by Flower Urchins around Japan.



Catfish

They may look innocent and peaceful with their cute little whiskers, but Catfish are dangerous creatures if provoked. When it feels threatened, the Catfish pulls out three barbed spines from its back and side fins. They are venomous and cause severe pain. Although rare, throughout the years there have been cases when catfish attacks proved deadly.

Catfish venom remains active for several days after the fish dies so even refrigerated ones must be handled with care.



Box Jellyfish

Often referred to as the Box of Death, the Box Jellyfish is indeed one of the deadliest sea-creatures on earth. It has up to 60 tentacles which can be even 5 meters long and have 5,000 million stinging cells. It’s enough for a full grown adult to come in contact with just 3 tentacles to risk death. Box Jellyfish are very fragile organisms, even a small fish could tear through it like butter, so it needs to kill aggressors and its food at first contact.

Box Jellyfish are so dangerous because they frequent a number of very popular beaches and because of their translucent bodies they are extremely hard to spot.



Sharks

Just like crocodiles, sharks are perfect killers in the water, just seeing them on television makes everyone’s heart beat a little faster. But, contrary to popular belief, sharks don’t usually attack unless provoked, most species don’t attack humans at all.

The best way to avoid a shark attack is to stay away from shallow waters where sharks are known to be feeding in, that’s the most common mistake people make, they ignore warnings and end up having their limbs bitten off or even worse.



Stingrays

Not many people really knew how dangerous stingrays really were until the terrible accident in which Steve Irwin lost his life. The truth is stingrays kill a lot more people than sharks for example. They are not aggressive creatures and when attacked, most of the time they just flee, but when stepped on, stingrays whip their tail stinger.

A way to avoid getting pierced by this dangerous weapon is to slide your feet through the sand instead of actually stepping, this way the stingray detects you and runs away.