Dr Jinan Harith Darwish is a paediatric allergy specialist and clinical immunology fellow at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center. Each month she answers your health questions.
I love sailing and plan to get out on the water as the weather cools but I suffer dreadfully from motion sickness. I take pills, which help, but is there anything more natural I can do to help myself?
These are a couple of options:
• Ginger: Try chewing on ginger candies or even eating ginger cookies. Slowly sipping ginger tea or all-natural ginger soda may quell nausea. Ginger tablets or capsules, 1,000mg to 2,000mg supplement, can help
and work best if taken about an hour before travelling.
• Cardamom: Smell and chew a couple of cardamom, this should also stop the sensation of nausea.
• Saffron: Add a few threads to two teaspoons of rose water and soak overnight. Then add that to mineral water and crushed ice and sugar to taste.
• Arabic coffee: To hit two birds with one stone as it is rich in cardamom and saffron.
• Acupressure wristbands: The bands such as Sea-Band motion-sickness wristbands work by applying pressure to the inside of the wrist at the Nei-Kuan point. According to Chinese medicine, acupressure can balance the flow of energy in the body, or chi, and nausea is a sign of disharmony of chi. According to a 1995 study published in the journal Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine, people who performed acupressure on their wrists reported reduced motion sickness. Use your thumb to press your inner arm three finger widths down from your wrist crease. Hold for a few minutes, until symptoms subside.
My little girl recently got stung while out in the garden. Her hand swelled up and was very sore for a few days and, even now, she is still left with a bump. I didn’t see what got her but I’ve never seen a reaction like this before. Would you have any idea what it might have been and is there any immediate action I should take if it happens again?
Most insect bites and stings result in a localised itch and swelling that settles within a few days. Severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) to insects are usually due to the black samsum ants (Pachycondyla sennaarensis) in the Gulf region. Black samsum ant reactions range from mild allergic reactions to severe anaphylactic shock. Although the ant is a scavenger in nature, it stings human beings as a defensive behaviour. It does not bite; instead, it injects venom through a stinger like fire ants and other Hymenoptera. The mechanism of the reaction to the sting of the black samsum ant is a type I IgE-mediated hypersensitivity and the diagnosis can be confirmed by skin tests and specific IgE determination.
Bees usually leave their barbed sting in the skin and die. Flicking the sting out as soon as possible (preferably within 30 seconds) will reduce the amount of venom injected. Use the edge of your fingernail, a car key or credit card. If possible try not to squeeze the venom sac, as this may increase the amount of venom injected. By contrast, wasps and ants rarely leave their sting in the skin. Cold packs and soothing creams often help for minor reactions. Oral antihistamines can be useful for treating itch. Very large and uncomfortable local reactions may sometimes need cortisone tablets to settle the swelling.
Symptoms include an all over rash, swelling of tongue or throat, trouble breathing, abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting or a drop in blood pressure (shock). Effective emergency treatment for anaphylaxis is available. Individuals at risk of anaphylaxis are usually advised to: Have an action plan for anaphylaxis and adrenaline autoinjector (eg EpiPen) readily available to treat anaphylaxis. Wear medical identification jewellery, which will increase the likelihood that adrenaline will be administered in an emergency. Lastly, and very importantly, seek urgent medical assistance if stung or bitten.