WHIPLASH IS NOT a medical term; it is
descriptive of acceleration-deceleration injuries to the neck and spine, where the injuring
force is similar to the cracking of a whip. The
back-and-forth trauma of a whiplash injury
can damage intervertebral joints, discs, ligaments, muscles and tendons in the neck.
Whiplash injuries are primarily caused
by rear-end automobile collisions, the most
prevalent type of traffic accident in the U.S.,
according to the National Highway Traffic
Safety Administration. Other causes include
contact sports and physical abuse or assault.
If you have experienced an injury that
has left you with neck pain, see your doctor.
Symptoms that could emerge within 48 hours
following an injury may include:
• Neck pain and stiffness, with limited
range of motion.
• Shoulder pain, lower back pain, arm
and hand pain, jaw pain.
• Tinnitus (ringing in the ears).
• Blurred vision.
• Dizziness and nausea.
• Cognitive impairment.
• Trouble sleeping and fatigue.
• Trouble swallowing.
Diagnosis and treatment
A physical exam by your doctor will help
determine how much tenderness exists in the
neck and any limitations to the normal range
of motion. X-rays of the neck can identify
fractures; soft tissue evaluation may require
more specialized imaging.
Controlling pain and restoring range of
motion are the goals. Treatment can include:
• Pain medications.
• Muscle relaxants.
• Heat or ice, applied to the neck for 15
minutes up to six times a day.
• A cervical collar, for two to three weeks.
• Physical therapy.
Symptoms usually clear up within a
month; if symptoms persist longer than three
months, see your doctor.
Search “whiplash” at these websites:
• Mayo Clinic,
• National Institutes of Health,
FOR YOUR HEALTH
BY BEVERLY BURMEIER
WINTER HOLIDAYS can be particularly
troublesome for people who suffer from
runny noses, itchy eyes, headaches or breathing problems—symptoms of a possible allergic reaction to many of the cherished items
we associate with the festive season.
Anything from the tree to roasted nuts
and scented candles could be the culprit. And
cold weather means spending more time
inside, which means that the ingredients of an
allergy attack are trapped indoors with us.
Allergies affect approximately 50 million
Americans—about one of every five adults
and children—according to the Asthma and
Allergy Foundation of America (
fact, allergies are the sixth-leading cause of
chronic disease in the United States, often
affecting otherwise healthy individuals. And
allergies can surface at any stage of life.
To keep allergy symptoms from stealing
holiday fun, follow these tips for handling
common culprits of the season.
Rather than being allergic to the tree
itself, many people react to mold or pollens
that attach to branches and needles. Washing
live trees before bringing them indoors can
help minimize this problem. Spray the tree
with a garden hose, and let it dry before
bringing it inside. Also wash artificial trees
before assembly (or blow with a hair dryer set
on cool) to dispose of mold or dust that might
have accumulated during storage.
When stored in a damp basement or
musty attic, decorations may harbor molds,
dust mites and other allergens. Moving, carrying and unpacking Christmas boxes stirs
up dust and transfers allergens to the hands
and the respiratory system. Fabric attracts
dust mites, so consider using plastic, metal or
glass decorations instead. Wear gloves, or
wash hands often when handling previously
Wood from outdoors may be musty or
moldy when brought inside, making it full of
potential allergens. Skip the fire if smoke or
scents released from burning wood irritate
sinuses or provoke an asthma attack. If a crack-
ling fire is a must, use only dry wood and open
a window for ventilation. Consider swapping a
wood-burning fireplace for a gas version.
It’s the season for special treats, but people suffering from food allergies must be
especially careful. The risk for accidental
ingestion increases with readily available
party foods like nuts, chocolate, eggnog and
dips. The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis
causes.com/FAAN) suggests carefully reading ingredient labels and refusing to
eat any food that doesn’t have an ingredient
list (sorry, that includes homemade goodies).
If you’re a holiday hostess, provide a selection
of allergen-free foods for guests—or at least
list ingredients on a card placed nearby.
Some people are sensitive to holiday candles, potpourri and perfumes. Not only can
scents be irritating, but indoor candles also
create soot that gets into air-conditioning
ducts and causes adverse reactions.
Indoor air quality
Clean chimneys, check fireplace vents
and close fireplace doors to keep smoke
from entering the house. Clean or replace
furnace filters regularly. Tight weatherstrip-ping can keep musty odors and allergens
from diffusing or escaping your home; open
a window whenever and wherever feasible.
Basements, bathrooms and closets may harbor moist air, creating the perfect environment for mold or mildew.
It can be a tough season for allergy sufferers, but, with a little care, you can minimize unpleasant effects and keep the
holidays joyful. C
Beverly Burmeier is a freelance health writer.
THE COSTCO CONNECTION
Costco members will find a wide variety
of items to help them with asthma and
allergies at Costco warehouses and on