with Dr. David Hilden



For those of you who suffer from allergies or those who care about people with them (or if you have a morbid curiosity about microscopic creatures that defecate under your bed) – Episode Twelve of The Healthy Matters Podcast is for you.

Why do allergies exist? They not only keep my guest and colleague Dr. John Sweet busy in our allergy clinic, but they are also indicative of an overactive, “very healthy, well-nourished immune system,” and one that’s “bored” and “looking for something to do.”

This is how Dr. Sweet explains this to his patients:

“Your friends without allergies are exposed to the exact same things you are. Their body sees it and ignores it. They see tree pollen; they see grass pollen. They see pet dander. And nothing happens to them. But you, my patient, unfortunately your immune system sees it as a threat and your immune system is trying to get rid of it. So think of that sneeze, that postnasal drip, that drainage as a way of your body trying to get it out instead of ignoring it. And that leads to a lot of symptoms that can be pretty uncomfortable.”

You’ve often heard that in order to conquer your enemy, you have to know your enemy – and immune systems have (albeit mistakenly) declared war on allergens, so in this episode we answer itching questions like what is the biggest allergy culprit? (Does it have four legs and a tail?) What’s the deal with pollen? And of course, “how many eggs do dust mites lay each month?”

I also asked Dr. Sweet if he has any recommendations for people when they know they’ll experience their inevitable, annual allergy symptoms.

“If you have allergies and you know that spring is your season, the best thing is to get ahead of it. All the allergy medications you can get over the counter best work preventively, but they don’t work as well if you already have the symptoms. If you know your pollen season is coming, start your antihistamine and your steroid nasal spray a week or two before the onset of your symptoms. You’ll end up having fewer symptoms or less severe symptoms if you do.”

Seasonal allergies, snow mold, pet dander, dead skin, HEPA filters and giant pollen collectors are also discussed in this episode.

“If you’re allergic to pollen, you need to take a shower before you go to bed at night,” continues Dr. Sweet. “Because your hair acts like a giant pollen collector. Pollen is sticky. Get it off you before you go to sleep at night. If you know you have outdoor allergens, don’t bring it in the house.” He also suggests wearing a hat to keep that pollen off your head.

 The dust hit the fan when we talked about my bedroom, but you’ll have to listen to Episode Twelve to hear more about that – as well as Dr. Sweet dispelling myths about breed-specific pet allergies, the benefits of Bamba snacks, and the proper use of neti pots.




Moms! The wisest people we know…

Bolo Diallo-Young, Mandy Hoffman, Joan HildenThree experts in the field of motherhood are my guests on Episode Eleven of The Healthy Matters Podcast. What makes them experts? They are moms. While no other credential is needed for this conversation, at least two of them are also healthcare professionals and the third is the parent of one. In addition to hearing unique perspectives from each about her experience with childbirth and thoughts about parenting, I also asked them to share advice for the next generation of moms. The field of motherhood takes us on an international and cross-country journey in this episode, starting with my friend and colleague Bolo Diallo-Young, a nurse practitioner in family medicine.

For some reason, she doesn’t remember her own birth that took place in the northern part of Senegal.

“But according to what I’ve heard,” she said without missing a beat, “I was born at home with the help of a doula.”

She then explained how in Africa, after the woman gives birth, she doesn’t have to do anything.

“Somebody may hold your child after your nurse, so you can go to sleep. And everybody’s bringing food – you don’t have to cook. Some will come and give them massage. So you don’t have to do anything for like a month or two. It’s called a ‘birthing period’ or something and you just eat and sleep and be with your baby.”

There’s something nice about that – and I’ve been to Bolo’s hometown and witnessed firsthand the kindness, joy and hospitality of the Senegalese people, so it doesn’t surprise me how they rally around new moms.

Bolo is the mom of two amazing kids, and she offers this advice on parenting:

“Being a parent is learning new things every day. And every stage of life is different from baby to whenever. So you have to adjust your mothering style and you have to adjust to that stage. And also, it takes a lot of patience and self-reflection.”

Mandy Hoffman is a labor and delivery nurse and certified nurse-midwife who is a new mom to four-and-a half-month-old Jasper. She also happens to be my niece, and this little guy has been the biggest joy for our family since he entered our lives.

I asked Mandy to share her thoughts on being a new mom, especially from her professional perspective. How those two paths converged was quite interesting – and beautiful.

Even after witnessing and assisting with numerous births on the job, she described going through her birth experience as “surreal.”

“Being a labor and delivery nurse, and also as a new baby midwife being on the other end of things, of going through pregnancy birth, the postpartum period, new mommy-hood, new parenthood, all myself has just been kind of, kind of mind-blowing.  It’s totally different to go through it on my own. I’m learning as I go, there are things that you don’t learn in school until you go through it.”

Mandy now feels like she’s joined this club of new understanding, “of what it feels like to be a parent, to be a mother experiencing growing a human for nine, ten months and witnessing life. It’s incredible. It changes you.”

Mandy’s advice?

“Be gentle with yourself. I think we are bombarded with so many images and ideas of what motherhood is supposed to look like. It takes a long time to grow a human. It takes a long time to recover after growing a human and every day you are evolving.  I’m a new person in one way, but I’m also the same person. Being gentle with yourself is a process, a never-ending process. Give yourself a lot of grace.”

I didn’t have to look to far to find my third guest. I’ve known her for 56 years and she still loves me – even after countless diaper changes, a death-defying disappearing act, and a few mischievous behaviors that required very little discipline. Yep – my mom, Joan Hilden shares her own experiences about giving birth back in the fifties and sixties and how parenting differed than what it looks like today.

My sister Julie was born when my parents were 21 and my dad was stationed at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi. Often the main order of business at military hospitals is delivering babies, so back in the day, they had a no-frills approach.

“My first (OBGYN) appointment at the new Air Force Base Hospital – along with dozens of other women at 7 a.m. and of course, you didn’t have your own doctor. You had whoever was available.”

My sister Amy was born when my dad was stationed in California, and my sister Kari and I were born in Madison, Wisconsin when my dad was out of the service. But during the fifties and sixties no dads were allowed in labor rooms or delivery rooms. My dad was with the other guys in the waiting room watching TV.

“Yeah. Watching the ball games,” Mom said. “The nurses were very supportive, but we labored alone. I thought it was a little bit hard because you didn’t have anybody really to talk to. The nurse would be in and out, but I knew nothing different.”

After delivering three fine baby girls and rounding out the Hilden clan with a perfect child (just kidding) born with perfect timing (again, just kidding), mom recalls what it was like for her to raise kids versus how things are now:

“When you kids were little, the climate was so different. Kids could play outside and just be free and you didn’t worry about them. There was a lot of playing outside. You just would go and play and come back in a while. And I don’t think kids get to do that anymore. And of course, I think all these computer games are not the best thing for kids. I think they should play with each other more.”

Wise words from three expert moms, a trip down memory lane (and a laundry chute) with the Hilden family, and gratitude and appreciation for the important roles of moms are covered in this special episode of The Healthy Matters Podcast.



Debunking the Myriad Myths in Medicine

In Episode Ten of The Healthy Matters Podcast, we’ll use 100 percent of our brains to tackle some medical myths that you’ve likely heard and perhaps wondered if they were factual. Many may have started with some element of truth. We’ll explore what may have prompted eerie tales of hair and nail growth from the grave, the 5-second rule for food droppings, and the gut-wrenching lifespan of chewing gum after being swallowed.

Should you wait 30 minutes after eating before swimming? For context we go way back to the Boy Scouts Handbook from the early 1900s where it does say to avoid swimming for an hour, because if you don’t, you could drown. The theory, I believe – and I am a proud Eagle Scout – is that your stomach is busy digesting food so your blood is going to your intestines instead of your muscles, which may cause you to get tired and drown. While I’m sorry to contradict “classic scouting literature,” this isn’t entirely true, but it isn’t entirely false either. Yes, your body is concentrating on digestion after eating but fear not – there’s blood a-plenty to make sure your body can walk, talk – even swim!

Speaking of water… what about staying hydrated?  I’m surprised that so many of us survived 40 years ago on ballfields without water bottles (or even a snack or sunscreen).  Now we all recognize the importance of drinking water, but how much do our bodies really need? Eight glasses a day? And can water play a role in weight loss? Grab a glass of water and find out when you listen to Episode Ten.

Cell phone “vibes,” eye strain, and the importance of toilet lids are also covered in this episode. As well as justice for a flavorful bird. Yes, it’s time to give turkeys some sack, folks.

If you’re going to blame the L-Tryptophan in turkey for making you too sleepy to help with kitchen clean-up after a huge holiday meal, you’re going to have to add pork chops, cheese, soybeans and lots of other foods that include the amino acid known for promoting good sleep and mood. Either encourage paper plate usage at your next event or step up to the plate and help after a delicious meal with L-Tryptophan-laden items. Then settle down for an enjoyable nap – after listening to your favorite new Healthy Matters Podcast, of course!

Young Dave Hilden dutifully waiting 30 minutes after eating before swimming.

Way before medical school I’m sure I listened to my parents and waited 30 minutes after eating before going for a swim. But it’s ok to take the plunge on a full stomach!