Breastfeeding has seen an increase in popularity in recent years, with advocates touting a number of benefits for both mother and baby. Two recent studies provide more information on the health-related benefits that many babies enjoy. Specifically, experts credit breast feeding with a lowered allergy risk and number of ear, throat, and sinus infections.
As a pediatric allergist, these findings are incredibly meaningful. Dealing with allergies as a young child and into adulthood can be a taxing responsibility, and knowing that perhaps we have some way of limiting the likelihood of that happening is reassuring for parents everywhere.
The first study presents data gathered from the medical office visits of an estimated 1,300 6-year-olds. The results showed that children who had been breastfed for nine or more months had significantly lower odds of getting an ear, throat, or sinus infection than children who had not. Doctors cited the fact that a mother’s milk provides immunologic protection that can have a lasting impact later in life.
A second study provided some remarkable information about the potential for a greatly reduced allergy risk in children who were breastfed for a period of at least four months after their birth. Researchers found that these children, who had been exclusively breastfed, were approximately 50 percent less likely to develop allergies than those who had been breastfed for a shorter period of time. They warn that these numbers did not apply evenly to high-risk children whose families have an established history of food allergies. Low-risk populations were much more prone to seeing a dramatic improvement.
Today, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that women breastfeed exclusively for six months, then use other foods to supplement the baby’s diet through at least the first birthday. With findings like these, which point to a much lower infection or allergy risk, it won’t be surprising to see more and more new moms pursuing the idea of breastfeeding for their little ones when it is possible.
For those who suffer from asthma, treatment is more than important–in the most serious of cases, receiving quality care can be a matter of life and death. Those with the most advanced and complicated cases depend on medication on a daily basis just to stay alive. And while a complex, customized mix of inhalers and pills can often grant relief, it may take more than that to fight this disease.
Researchers and industry experts continue to work to provide new and better solutions for patients. As new products become available, allergists are creating more and more individualized plans that give their patients a better quality of life. They take factors like age, symptoms, severity of the disease, and any potential medication side effects into consideration. Furthermore, an asthma treatment plan may be altered year to year, or even more than once per year, as new medications and other options become available.
Inhalers are often the first option that’s explored. Many combine a steroid with a bronchodilator. Pills known as leukotriene receptors reduce airway inflammation by blocking the chemical reaction that causes it. These pills use a different approach than inhalers in that they do not have steroids. Some patients use a combination of both treatments or of multiple inhalers to treat their symptoms.
Those with the most severe symptoms cannot get relief by using these prescription medications. For situations such as this, the newly FDA-approved procedure known as bronchial thermoplasty may be an ideal solution. The entire procedure is spread out over a series of 3 surgeries in which a catheter is inserted into the lungs. A powerful heat destroys the smooth muscle there that is often guilty of restricting airways. This smooth muscle not only restricts and blocks airways, but it can also constrict lungs further in response to an allergy trigger.
While bronchial thermoplasty is only recommended in the most severe of cases, it’s good to know that researchers continue to develop new solutions for those who seek asthma treatment.
If you suffer from seasonal allergies, you know just what a struggle it can be to overcome. If you’re looking for relief, you may be surprised to know just how many things are at work around you worsening your symptoms. Here are seven of the most unexpected factors that may be partially to blame for that runny nose or those itchy eyes:
Alcohol - The sulfites in red wine are particularly notorious for causing allergy problems, and other types of alcohol can also take their toll. Sulfites are naturally occurring compounds that appear in our favorite wines and beer.
Chlorine - When swimming or even sitting near a chlorinated pool, you are sure to inhale the fumes. Any allergist will tell you that indoor pools are especially problematic since the fumes are so concentrated.
Contact Lenses - Pollen is one of the greatest culprits when it comes to seasonal allergies. These small particles can become trapped in the eye, especially when using soft contact lenses. These are more likely to absorb irritants like smoke and pollen. It may be worth your while to consider using glasses when you’re experiencing major symptoms.
Perfume and Artificial Scents - Heavy scents are woven into the fabric of most households, including everything from the perfume you spritz, to the deodorant you use, to the candles you burn. You may be pleasantly surprised at how much better you begin to feel after cutting out unnecessary scents from your life. Look for unscented options or those with more mild scents.
Stress - Stress makes you more prone to sickness and other issues related to your physical well-being. This is just another reason to keep your stress levels in check–not only for better mental stability and increased happiness, but to keep those seasonal allergies under control!
Food allergies are a growing concern across the United States. Researchers at the Food Allergy Research and Education organization have gathered important information in recent years, publishing extensive information that individuals, including parents of young children who are affected, should know about. Here are eight facts and statistics about food allergies that you may find surprising:
Approximately 15 million adults and children are affected.
This includes about four percent of adults, or nine million adults, and 8 percent of children, which represents nearly six million kids.
Traces of peanut can be particularly difficult to remove from surfaces.
Antibacterial gels will not clean all peanut residue from the hands. Only running water and soap or the use of commercial-grade wipes will do the job. Dishwashing liquid will not remove it from household surfaces, but spray cleaners and sanitizing wipes will. This is a very important fact to know because those allergic to peanuts often face life-threatening reactions when exposed to it.
Eight items account for 90 percent of food-related allergic reactions.
Wheat, soy, tree nuts, peanuts, eggs, milk, fish, and shellfish are included in this list.
Dining outside the home leads to about half of all fatal cases.
Even trace amounts of key ingredients can lead to a life-threatening situation.
Some issues resolve themselves in childhood.
Kids who are allergic to milk, wheat, egg, and soy frequently outgrow it. On the other hand, those who have reactions to peanuts, fish, shellfish, and tree nuts may do so for their entire life.
The number of children affected has increased dramatically.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that between 1997 and 2011 food allergies in children increased 50%.
Food allergies cause more than one-quarter of a million ambulatory-care visits per year.
The CDC estimates that there are more than 300,000 such visits for children under the age of 18.
While there is no cure, there are ways to manage symptoms.
The best way to manage symptoms and reactions is to avoid triggers. In some cases, this includes inhalation of particles that carry the allergens. For example, steam from a kitchen where fish is being prepared could cause a reaction in someone with a sensitive fish allergy.
Many people who suffer from allergies appreciate the arrival of rain. A good rain shower can wash away the mold and pollen particles responsible for causing their watery eyes and itchy throats. But some people have quite the opposite reaction to a heavy downpour. In fact, thunderstorms can worsen some people's symptoms.
Although scientists are still researching and debating the results of thunderstorm allergies, initial analysis reveals some interesting and counterintuitive findings. Not only can thunderstorms increase allergy symptoms among people, some asthma symptoms can be prompted by thunderstorms. This rare health problem has been well documented, yet is not as predictable or understood as other allergic reactions. Some experts suggest that the reaction may be due to an updraft in pollen and mold particles as the beating rain hits the ground. This theory goes on to suggest that these particles are smashed into even smaller sizes which, when inhaled, stick easily to the walls of the lungs.
Instances of these thunderstorm-related symptoms have been tracked most heavily in Italy, Australia, and the United Kingdom, but even in these countries it is a rarity. In fact, only 35 articles touching the subject have reportedly been published. In the United States, one 2008 study from Atlanta shows a three percent increase in the number of emergency room visits related to these specific medical concerns following a thunderstorm.
Looking ahead, medical professionals question the future for those who suffer from thunderstorm-related allergies as it relates to global warming. Some scientists predict that thunderstorms will be more frequent with the rising temperatures, causing new concern over this unique medical issue. Urbanization trends also increase the likelihood of thunderstorms and may trigger new cases as well, meaning researchers may shift their focus to understanding this issue as a growing medical problem.
If you suffer from allergy symptoms, you're not alone. Millions of people across the U.S. have the same issue, whether it's in response to indoor or outdoor allergens, seasonally or year-round. You may take an over-the-counter antihistamine to address those itchy, watery eyes and seemingly constant sneezing, but day-to-day life just must go on whether your eyes dry up and go back to normal or not. One of those daily tasks we all take on is driving, whether it's to work, to appointments, to the gym, to school, etc., the list goes on.
New research sheds some light on just how dangerous driving around with major allergy symptoms is. In fact, that research suggests that these drivers compare to those who are under the influence of alcohol with a blood alcohol content of .03 percent. This stark fact shows just how serious it is to find allergy relief. Not only are your eyes, throat, or nose affected, but your memory and driving abilities are affected as well.
Researchers in this particular study focused on those who had documented issues with tree and grass pollen. Participants who were given nasal sprays or non-drowsy antihistamines were able to competently drive during a one-hour driving test that was administered. Those who had not received any treatment to combat allergy symptoms had driving skills comparable to someone with a .03 blood alcohol content.
Though it may seem shocking to some, this outcome makes sense to those in the medical field. The body reacts to allergens by releasing histamines, which can influence the brain. It only makes sense that this impact on the brain would lead to impaired driving skills, they say.
If you suffer from seasonal allergies, you may have turned to routine allergy shots to control your symptoms. Many of us have gone through the experience as a child and continue to do so now as adults. There's a new solution called rush immunotherapy that has gained national attention as a more convenient solution to the age-old problem of seasonal allergies. If you or your child relies on routine shots for symptom relief, you'll want to learn about this innovative option. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions:
What is rush immunotherapy?
It is an anti-allergy plan that is given on a condensed timeline. For example, instead of a patient coming in for weekly injections for a period of many months, he or she may be able to receive the entire series in a period of just a day or two.
Is it safe?
Yes, this procedure has been tested and proven effective and safe for use among allergy sufferers.
What does a typical treatment plan look like?
One typical plan would be a series of 50 allergy shots being replaced by a series of four to six shots which are administered over the course of a single day. The same dosage would be administered, but in a much smaller number of injections and on a dramatically shorter timeline.
What happens during this type of all-in-one-day treatment?
In between the injections, you will be closely monitored to make sure you don't experience any adverse reactions.
Is this a permanent solution?
For many patients, rush immunotherapy is in fact a permanent solution. While additional treatments may be necessary for a period of several months, the one-day session often provides the relief needed almost instantly.
Allergies got you down? It's time to fight back. While you can't mitigate what's outside, you can control the inside of your home. Follow these seven tips to allergy-proof your house. Take back control of your life.
1) Change air filters as directed. People often forget this simple task, but it means a world of difference. An old, clogged filter builds up allergens over time, pumping them back into your home through your heating or cooling system. If changed regularly, a new, clean filter won't blow back allergens.
2) Ditch the drapes. Install blinds or shades instead. Blinds or shades don't trap allergens like cloth and cloth-like materials, and are easier to clean with household products.
3) Get rid of wall-to-wall carpet. Carpets accumulate pet dander, dust, pollen, and more, an allergy attack waiting to happen, all underneath your feet. When you step across the carpet you kick allergens into the air before they slowly settle back into the carpet and into a vicious cycle. Install easy-to-clean hardwood floors instead.
4) Clean your bathroom. Any allergy doctor will tell you there are more than 10,000 species of mold on the planet and they all love warm, moist places like your bathroom. Clean it regularly. Remove standing water. Ventilate it.
5) Pump allergens out, not in. Many built-in home-fanning systems like those in your bathroom or kitchen circulate indoor air. If there are particles that upset your allergies, install a true exhaust system that forces unwanted particles out of your home entirely.
6) Purchase a testing kit. Kits will indicate what allergens reside in your home so you can pinpoint the cause, like pet dander, and mitigate it.
7) Purchase a standing air filter. These machines improve your allergies by trapping airborne allergens and clean the air your breath.
If you have allergies, you've probably experienced most of the symptoms involved. While most people think sneezing is a common reaction, many people don't realize that it's our eyes that are also under attack when we sneeze. Itchy, red, swollen eyes are a common reaction to dust, pollen, and otherallergens that tend to crop up during the springtime. There are a number of treatments available, and allergy tests can help you pinpoint the specific problems causing the reaction.
Why are itchy, red eyes generally a symptom, and what causes the problem?
Just as any other reaction, itchy eyes are caused when the body reacts to things that are not harmful. Things like pet dander, mold, and pollen cause allergies. These substances release histamine and causes swelling. Your eyes' blood vessels can become inflamed, leaving them itchy, red, and teary.
You can treat your itchy eyes with histamine blockers to reduce puffiness and swelling. Pills and eye drops can also work to relieve itchiness and watery eyes. There are a variety of treatments available both over the counter and through a prescription from your doctor.
Trees, weeds, pet dander, dust, perfumes, and other chemicals are common causes for an allergic reaction. You should keep track of what causes your itchy eyes in order to better treat your allergies. If you are still having problems with itchiness and red eyes even after taking over the counter medications, consult your doctor about getting allergy shots.
There are other precautions you can take as well. Contact lenses may worsen symptoms, so try wearing eyeglasses instead. Wearing sunglasses can also actually help to reduce the chances of itchy, red eyes. Also make sure stay away from touching or rubbing your eyes. Doing so will make the problem worse.
Watery eyes. Itchiness. Trouble breathing. Some of us know much better than others that the effects of spring allergies can be very problematic during that certain time of the year. While others see beautiful sunny skies and flowers blooming, some of us are just waiting for the months to pass, so we can get back to normalcy. Did you know that some cities are much worse for these reactions than others? Take a look at some of the worse cities to live in for springtime allergic reactions.
With so much pollen in the air at springtime, people living in this southern city can find it difficult to walk outside without dealing with itchiness and water eyes. Spring allergies in Birmingham are very common.
Dallas is guilty of having one of the highest pollen counts in the United States. The cypress, elm, ash and cedar trees that heavily populate this city are to blame for the allergic reactions that Dallas residents have to deal with throughout March and April. The area is also low in doctors, so appropriate allergy treatment can be scarce.
Jackson is the largest city in the state of Mississippi, and its citizens understand how complicated it can be to live there when the allergy season is at its worse. Unlike some other cities Jackson is home to a high number of doctors who specialize in this area, so the future may be bright for people dealing with itchy, watery eyes.
Are you noticing a pattern here? The cities with the worst spring allergies are all located in the south of the U.S., and Louisville is at the top of the list for the worst cities to experience those troublesome allergic reactions during springtime with pollen counts getting high as early as February.