Role of Omega-3 Fatty AcidsOmega-3 fatty acids are a specific type of fatty acid that are essential for a number of human functions and that can be found in plants and oils and many of the things we eat. Fatty acids provide us with energy and are essential for a number of human functions.

What are the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids?

Asthma is the leading cause for death among children, and recent research suggests that susceptibility to asthma can be reduced with methods as simple as changes in diet. Specifically, eating more omega-3 fatty acids may improve resistance to asthma. Several studies now demonstrate that dietary omega-3 fatty acids improve asthma symptoms in children. However, some studies fail to show this beneficial effect of omega-3 fatty acids on children’s health. Genetic factors may underlie the inconsistencies found in studies analyzing the impact of omega-3 fatty acid consumption on asthma. Future research will likely help clarify when and in whom omega-3 fatty acids will improve health outcomes.

Though omega-3 fatty acids are implicated in a number of inflammatory diseases, including asthma and allergy, their benefits appear to extend to other types of diseases as well, including depression, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, arthritis, gum disease, and hearing loss. These fatty acids are in fact critical for health and have been shown to be particularly important for growth in children. They are important for the development of the brain’s cell membranes and for blood clotting.

Where do we get our omega-3 fatty acids?

The body does not make omega-3 fatty acids, so our need for these fatty acids must be met by ingesting them. They are found in many foods including several oils, green vegetables, and fatty fish. Specifically, kale, spinach, and other salad greens, as well as brussel sprouts and salmon are all known sources for omega-3 fatty acids.

Though we know that these types of foods can provide the benefits associated with omega-3 fatty acids, we do not have good techniques for quantifying these benefits or comparing benefits across food types. However, it does appear clear that ingesting omega-3 fatty acids in food is more beneficial than taking supplements of omega-3 fatty acids. Further, some studies find an associated between the reduction in our intake of fish oil and our increased incidence of asthma and allergy. This finding is perhaps intuitive given the studies that show that children who consume oily fish tend to be less at risk for developing asthma than those who do not consume oily fish.

An important thing to recognize in terms of the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids is that the effects of omega-6 fatty acids can counter them. Unfortunately, omega-6 fatty acids are also abundant in foods we consume, including corn and soybean. Scientists and physicians therefore suggest that it is important to maintain a ratio of omega-3 fatty acids to omega-6 fatty acids that favors more omega-3 fatty acids in your system.

Why and how can omega-3 fatty acids minimize asthma or allergy?

Though many of the diseases that are affected by omega-3 fatty acid consumption are not categorized as inflammatory disease, the benefits imparted by omega-3 fatty acids may occur through the minimization of inflammation. For instance, it appears that for those who consume omega-3 fatty acids and enjoy benefits related to asthma and allergy, omega-3 fatty acids reduce immune responses associated with these disorders. Specifically, by reducing eosinophil activities, omega-3 fatty acids may help maintain lung function and prevent symptoms of asthma and allergy, including coughing, sneezing, and runny noses.

Not only can asthma and allergy be affect by the consumption of omega-3 fatty acids by patients themselves, but consumption by patients’ mothers may also have an influence. A study conducted in 2011 showed that if pregnant women took supplements of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, their children were less likely to develop asthma or to test positive on the egg skin prick test. However, once asthma or allergy have developed, it may take longer than 9 months of omega-3 fatty acid consumption to experience the health benefits. One study recently showed that 8-12 year olds who consumed omega-3 fatty acids over a 6 month period showed what should immune system changes that should theoretically reduce asthma and allergy symptoms, but they did not actually experience those clinical effects. Researchers therefore suggested that the severity of symptoms may not be reduced unless omega-3 fatty acids are consumed over a long period of time. It is also possible that there is a critical dose of omega-3 fatty acids, under which the clinical benefits are not realized.

Final thoughts

Research suggests that omega-3 fatty acids may help combat natural immune responses that lead to problematic health outcomes, such as asthma and allergy. The specific way omega-3 fatty acids achieve this effect on the immune system is not well understood, and there is a great degree of variability in the effects of omega-3 fatty acids between individuals. It is important to consume adequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet to support several bodily functions and so that potential health benefits will be afforded. If you eat a lot of omega-6 fatty acids, it is particularly important to ingest omega-3 fatty acids as well.

Exercise-Induced AnaphylaxisWho experiences exercise-induced anaphylaxis?

In the late 1970s, the first incidence of exercise-induced anaphylaxis was described. The patient had consumed shellfish and had a late onset reaction that was catalyzed by exercise. Since that day, over 1000 more cases of exercise-induced anaphylaxis have been reported. Research on these cases indicates that young adults are more likely than those of other age groups to suffer from exercise-induced anaphylaxis and that females are about twice as likely as males to experience this type of anaphylaxis. The cases also suggest that atopic disorders commonly associated with the immune system, such as asthma, eczema, or rhinitis, are often found in those who suffer from exercise-induced anaphylaxis and that jogging is the most common exercise type to lead to this aversive outcome.

What happens to you during exercise-induced anaphylaxis?

The specific symptoms and sequel of events can differ from patient to patient, but there are often many similarities among exercise-induced anaphylaxis cases. Symptoms usually appear sometime between 5 and 50 minutes into exercise and often involve fatigue, a feeling of warmth throughout the body, and an accelerated heartbeat. Of course, these “symptoms” are often felt during exercise anyway so can easily be mistaken as normal reactions to a workout. Next, a reaction will often appear on the skin with what are known as urticarial lesions. These lesions tend to be raised from the skin, measure about 10-15 mm in diameter, be pink or red in color, and cause the patient to itch. Angiodema, which is swelling much like hives, is also likely to occur at this point, particular on the face, hands, and feet. Finally, widespread symptoms can occur, including gastrointestinal issues like nausea and vomiting, cardiovascular and pulmonary issues that can make it hard to breathe or cause chest pain, and neurological issues, which can lead to loss of consciousness. Even after intervention, when the specific reaction has resolved, headaches can persist for 1-3 days.

What are the risk factors for developing exercise-induced anaphylaxis?

Why exercise-induced anaphylaxis occurs is not precisely known, but there are a number of factors that may contribute. Taking certain medications like aspirin can increase ones chances of exercise-induced anaphylaxis, as can exhaustion, menstruation, infections of the airway, insect bites, and exposure to allergens. Exposure to extreme temperatures has also led to exercise-induced anaphylaxis, particularly cold temperatures. As cold temperatures are also often problematic for those suffering from asthma, it is generally recommended that those at risk for these issues refrain from outdoor winter exercise.

For a subset of those patients who have endured exercise-induced anaphylaxis, the anaphylaxis depends critically on the ingestion of a certain food before exercise. Interestingly, the foods that can lead to this type of anaphylaxis are not necessarily the same foods normally associated with allergy, or for which the patients have an active allergy. Some foods that have led to exercise-induced anaphylaxis are: fruits and vegetables, including peaches, tomatoes, corn, and celery, dairy products, such as milk, eggs, and cheese, alcohol, shellfish, soy, garlic, rice, and wheat.

Another less common variable that has become associated with exercise-induced anaphylaxis is inheritance. Familial exercise-induced anaphylaxis was described when two siblings and their father all suffered these incidents.

Why do seemingly innocuous variables lead to exercise-induced anaphylaxis?

How and why exercise-induced anaphylaxis occurs is not well understood. Exercise is known to have both pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory effects, which complicates the picture of how it leads to anaphylaxis, which occurs as an effect of an extreme or excessive inflammatory response. However, certain cells of the immune system, called mast cells, have been implicated in the condition. It has been suggested that the lowered pH that occurs with exercise allows for specific activity among mast cells that can lead to anaphylaxis.

Basophils are another type of immune system cell that may be involved in exercise-induced anaphylaxis. Physical exertion leads to hyperosmolarity in the blood, and it is thought that basophils may be particularly sensitive to this change, which leads to histamine release, an event that can lead to or exacerbate anaphylaxis.

A more complicated immune response involving macrophages and lymphocytes is also possible in exercise-induced anaphylaxis, and one hypothesis has been put forward for how these cells could contribute specifically to food-dependent exercise-induced anaphylaxis. According to this theory, macrophages and lymphocytes of the immune system are sensitive to food allergens and during exercise, are released into systemic circulation. Thus, during exercise, these cells can react with mast cells and basophils and drive anaphylaxis.

Aspirin may lead to exercise-induced anaphylaxis for a variety of reasons. It, along with alcohol, enhances the absorption of allergens from the gastrointestinal tract. However, aspirin also appears to have the capacity to activate mast cells and thus prime immune cells to become more sensitive to allergens and perhaps other stimuli. Studies have shown that giving a subject aspirin will enhance their reaction to skin prick tests. Additionally, some incidents of food-dependent exercise-induced anaphylaxis have also required the ingestion of aspirin for anaphylaxis to occur.

What can you do to avoid exercise-induced anaphylaxis?

Luckily for those who suffer from exercise-induced anaphylaxis, people usually build a tolerance to exercise over time and do not continue to endure the highly stressful experience of anaphylaxis. However, being education about the risks and signs of exercise-induced anaphylaxis can help prevent such an incident, as can avoiding foods and other factors that could act as triggers for you.

Why Its Important to Know the Difference

Allergy Symptoms vs Cold SymptomsColds and allergies have a number of overlapping symptoms, including runny nose, congestion, and cough. Given that these symptoms can indicate different issues that require different interventions, confusing one condition for another can prolong symptoms and reduce quality of life for an extended period of time. Understanding the different etiologies and other distinguishing features of colds and allergies can help increase the likelihood that the symptoms are accurately assessed and that optimal steps are taken to rid the patient of those symptoms.

The Cause of Colds Versus Allergies

Viruses cause colds. Once viruses invade the body, the immune system recognizes and attacks them. The process of immune response causes the symptoms that are associated with a cold. Like colds, allergy symptoms arise because of actions of the immune system. However, unlike with colds, the immune system’s role in allergies represents over-activity of the immune system. Specifically, the immune system mistakes an innocuous foreign substance as a harmful invader. In response, the immune system causes the body to release certain chemicals that it would also release upon an infection with a cold. For instance, histamine is released in both allergies and colds, which causes swelling in the nose, as well as coughing, and sneezing.

Because allergies represent the nature of one’s immune system, rather than the nature of what is coming into the body, allergies are not contagious. On the other hand, colds are easily transmitted from one person to another when a person with a cold transfers infected material – through things like a sneeze, cough, or handshake. Though this does not happen with allergies, having family members with allergies can increase one’s likelihood of developing them.

Distinguishing Between A Cold and An Allergy

Several overlapping symptoms of colds and allergies can make them difficult to distinguish. For example, a runny or stuffy nose is often associated with both colds and allergies, and each condition can lead to fatigue. Though fever is rare in both conditions, it does sometimes occur with colds but should never occur with allergies. A cough or a sore throat is more likely an indicator of a cold, though each can also occur with allergies. Better distinguishing characteristics are aches, which do not occur with allergies but can occur with a cold, and itchy, watery eyes, which often occur in allergies and rarely occur in colds.

In addition to the symptoms themselves, some other features of colds and allergies can be used to determine from which ailment one is suffering. The onset of symptoms can occur immediately in allergies once one is exposed to an allergen, whereas colds normally take a few days to occur after infection occurs. However, knowing when one was introduced to a virus can be difficult, so this difference in symptom onset is not always useful for identifying the cause of one’s symptoms. The time of year can provide a clue as to whether one is experiencing a cold or allergies, as colds are most frequent in the winter. Allergies can occur any time of year, but they are often specific to the time of year when specific allergens are in season.

One of the best indicators that one is suffering from allergies rather than a cold has to do with the duration of symptoms. Whereas cold symptoms last from a few days up to bout 2 weeks, allergies can last months and will likely persist as long as one is exposed to allergens. Thus, if symptoms exceed about 2 weeks, it is likely that those symptoms are associated with allergies rather than a cold. It is often at this point that patients realize that what they thought was a cold is actually a different type of immune reaction.

Preventing and Treating Colds and Allergies

Prevention in both colds and allergies involves avoiding the agent that causes the illness. For a cold, this means staying away from infected people and keeping your hands clean. Allergies are harder to avoid if one does not know what causes their allergies, but some allergens are common and cause more allergies in our population than others. For instance, pollen, dust mites, mold, animal dander, and cockroaches are among the substances most frequently associated with allergies.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for either colds or allergies, but there are specific medications that can help manage the symptoms. For colds, rest and consuming fluids can improve symptoms and help the body recover from the invading virus, whereas such healthy practices do not help one recover from allergies as long as allergens are present. Colds can also be treated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, which help reduce the most common symptoms of colds. Pain relievers can also be used to reduce aches that may be experienced during a cold.

Allergies are often treated with antihistamines, which prevent the histamine that the body releases in response to allergens from causing congestion. Decongestants help minimize swelling in the nasal passage, which can also be accomplished with nasal steroids. A doctor may decide to employ immunotherapy, which often involves allergy shots, to reduce one’s allergies over time. By injecting small amounts of the allergen, the body can get desensitized over time so that the immune system no longer overreacts to the presence of that allergen, and the symptoms of allergies are avoided.

By focusing on the specific experience one has during the presence of symptoms that resemble both colds and allergies, one may be able to determine which illness is occurring. Quicker recognition of the illness allows for better management of the underlying symptoms and quicker overall recovery from those symptoms.

Friday, 06 February 2015 08:00

Stanford Launches Center for Allergy Research

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Donation Facilitates Important Allergy Research

Food Allergy ResearchAlmost 40% of the global population currently suffers from allergies, and the percentage is expected to increase to 50% soon. There is no cure for allergies that is currently approved by the FDA. Stanford University School of Medicine is launching a new research center aimed at developing innovative solutions for allergies. The center received a $24 million donation, which is among the largest private gifts ever dedicated to allergy research in the United States. Of the $24 million $4 million will go toward a matching program for new gifts to the center.

The gift comes from from Sean Parker, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who suffers from severe allergies to a number of foods. Parker was the co-founder of Napster and has also served as president of Facebook. He was prompted by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg to make this specific donation. Sean has landed in the emergency room over a dozen times due to accidental ingestion of allergens, which include avocados, shellfish, and nuts. Because allergies can be genetically passed on to children, Parker worries for the safety of his two children and wants to help in the global challenge to prevent, or at least safely control, allergic reactions. Reported allergic reactions to food allergens double each decade. It is estimated that about 1 in 4 people suffering from food allergies will have a potentially fatal anaphylactic reaction at some point in their lives.

Parker considers his gift more of a form of venture capital funding than a traditional endowment, as the investment is much like that of an investment in a startup. Specifically, Parker views the center as an opportunity to assemble an idea team to conduct important research and develop effective clinical applications.

The Allergy Center Will Be Innovative and Multidisciplinary

The new center for allergies will be inter-disciplinary, combining research initiatives with programs that ensure that care is compassionate and comprehensive. The center will also initiate clinical trials and organize community outreach. Several fields within Stanford’s medical school will also contribute to the center, including not only immunology, but also otolaryngology, pulmonology, pathology, genetics, gastroenterology, chemistry, and bioengineering.

Led by Kari Nadeau, MD, PhD, the center’s research will focus on both therapeutic interventions, as well as the uncovering of mechanisms by which allergies develop and the relevant causes for alterations within the immune system. Nadeau’s immunological research focusing on allergies – and in particular, the activity of regulatory T cells - is internationally recognized. She points to the need for a better understanding of how allergies emerge and evolve for the development of long-term therapies. Nadeau herself suffers from life-threatening allergies, which has inspired aspects of her career.

Nadeau developed the first combination therapy that involved multiple food allergies, demonstrating that it is safe to desensitize patients to multiple allergens at the same time. Using immunotherapy, Nadeau exposes patients to small doses of the substances to which they are allergic to help accustom their immune systems to these substances. Over time, as higher doses of these substances are introduced, the danger of natural exposure to these substances decreases, as the body no longer perceives these substances as harmful or dangerous. Nadeau has conducted these studies on how to build tolerance against multiple food allergies at once at Stanford’s Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital and Stanford Health Care. She was able to cure 680 of the 700 patients using methods from these clinical trials.

The experience of an eighth grade boy from Los Altos, CA in one of Nadeau’s clinical trial demonstrates the results of these studies. This youth had a severe peanut allergy and entered the study, hoping to become desensitized to peanuts. During a trial of oral immunotherapy, where he at small peanut doses, he became more able to tolerate nuts. He can now eat moderate doses of peanuts with no allergy symptoms. Future research should help determine if continued exposure is necessary for maintaining tolerance to allergens. For now, this patient eats about 8 peanuts a day, which helps ensure that he remains immune to peanuts. In the trial in which he was a part, Nadeau showed that this type of exposure to allergens could be particularly effective when used in combination with allergy an allergy drug, Xolair.

Specific Goals for the Center

The hope for the future is that better therapies will be developed. The combination therapies that Nadeau has shown can be effective can take a long time to become effective and can be both dangerous and scary for both patients and their loved ones. For some patients, the exposure to small amounts of an allergen can cause reactions without enabling the patient to build a tolerance against the allergen. Understanding the pathology associated with allergies could lead to cures that become active more quickly, are safer, and are more feasible as long-term solutions for allergies. Nadeau has said that the goal of the new Center for Allergy Research is to find a cure for allergies within 10 years.

Thursday, 27 November 2014 00:00

What Does It Mean To Be Allergic To Gluten?

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What Does It Mean To Be Allergic To Gluten? Premier Allergy

These days, we're hearing a lot about the benefits of a gluten-free diet. Gluten is a protein that makes dough elastic, and it's found in many of the staple food items we consume every day. While many people without sensitivity to the substance are opting for these diets, those with gluten allergies have a more urgent reason to cut this substance out of their daily routines.
Gluten sensitivity differs from many food allergies, as it can have chronic, malignant effects on the intestines, muscles, and joints. Over 250 symptoms have been observed in patients with an observed sensitivity. Patients most commonly complain of bloating, abdominal pain, constipation, and diarrhea. This condition has a genetic origin: there are several types of sensitivity, each traceable to the body's failure to handle these specific proteins properly.

It's important to distinguish gluten allergies from other similar conditions, such as celiac disease and wheat allergies. Celiac disease is, in fact, a specific kind of gluten sensitivity that is treated by cutting the protein from a patient's diet. However, the disease poses a host of risks to the immune system that an allergic condition does not. Wheat allergy is often confused with gluten intolerance, but it involves a reaction to a totally different set of substances.

How is gluten intolerance diagnosed? Well, the jury's still out on this. At present, researchers have not found any surefire biomarkers to indicate the disorder. Physicians will often ask patients to undergo a "gluten challenge," during which they are required to either regularly eat or cut out the substance for a specified time period. A diagnosis can then be made based on any symptoms patients experience. Those who seem prone to intolerance are advised to cut this protein from their diet, which means excluding foods that contain wheat, barley, rye, and cross-contaminated oats.

If you're experiencing some of the symptoms listed above, you should consider asking your doctor about getting tested for gluten allergies. The sooner you know, the sooner you'll be able to modify your habits for a healthier, happier lifestyle.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014 00:00

How to Avoid Food Allergies in Your Thanksgiving Meal

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Thanksgiving is the time of year when cooks prepare magnificent feasts. Special dishes are often served that you just don't get the rest of the year. These yummy recipes are great, but you need to be careful if you have food allergies. The best way to enjoy a holiday meal is to identify allergies, make food substitutions, and communicate your needs to the cook.

How to Avoid Food Allergies in Your Thanksgiving Meal Premier Allergy

Identify Foods
Make a list of foods that you cannot eat. This will refresh your memory, and you can give the list to the cook if you will be sharing a meal at a friend or relative's home.

Side Dishes
When you are doing the cooking, you can create side dishes that do not contain the ingredients that you can't eat. That is one of the simplest solutions, or you can make ingredient substitutions and still enjoy a nice meal.
Most people with food allergies can eat fresh slices of vegetables like carrots, celery, or cucumbers. If you are allergic to milk products, however, you need to check the ingredients in the homemade dips that often accompany these veggies or avoid them all together.

The Main Course
The best turkeys are those that are tender and juicy. However, if you have an allergy to wheat, you need to be careful when choosing the turkey. Turkeys that are exceptionally juicy are often injected with wheat that many people cannot tolerate. Check the label on the packaging to determine if it contains wheat. Another alternative is to buy gluten-free birds. Also keep in mind that gravy purchased from the store contains wheat. Making your own gravy is safer and probably tastier.

Just Ask
Many different cooks often prepare Holiday meals, so it may be hard to convey what you cannot eat ahead of time. If some dishes look questionable, just politely ask what the ingredients are. The cooks will certainly rather answer a few questions that have you suffer through an allergy attack.

Individuals with food allergies must take great care to be selective about what they eat during the holidays. Just because you have to be careful doesn't mean you can't have any fun. As long as you make sure to check the ingredients of each dish you try, you're sure to be able to taste your way through the season!


Thursday, 20 November 2014 00:00

Best Dog Breeds for Allergy Sufferers

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Dogs make wonderful pets and are found in many homes throughout the world. However, about 10 percent of the people in the United States are actually allergic to some dogs and experience itchy eyes, stuffy noses, wheezing, sneezing, and coughing when they are around them. Nevertheless, people with pet allergies still want the love and companionship provided by these animals. There are some ways to make this possible.
For starters, it's important to realize that you're not actually allergic to dogs – you're allergic to their dander. Dog hair is actually not the allergen, but it contains dog dander that people are often allergic to. Dander consists of old skin cells that are shed from a dog. Saliva and dog urine also contain dander. Choosing a dog that sheds less and produces less dander could make it possible for you to have this pet in your home. Read on for some of the best breeds for those with pet allergies.

Choosing a Breed

The Chinese Crested Hairless has just a little hair on the tail, feet and head. It is considered to be a popular breed for those people who have pet allergies because it has so little hair to carry dander.

The American Hairless Terrier was specifically bred to reduce allergy symptoms. People who react to many other types of breeds often do just fine with this terrier.

Best Dog Breeds for Allergy Sufferers

Miniature Poodles shed just a little hair and usually make good pets for anyone suffering from allergies.

The Bichon Frise has a double coat, which helps to lessen the amount of dander that is shed and reduce allergy symptoms for the pet owner.

These breeds are suggestions that seem to work well for those people with known pet allergies. However, it doesn't mean that all people can tolerate these breeds. You should spend a little time with the dog you are considering to see how you personally react. With the proper breed, pet ownership could be in the cards for even those with the worst allergies!

Thursday, 13 November 2014 20:33

How to Travel Safely with Allergies

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Traveling can create unique challenges for people with allergies. Hotels may have dust mites or even mold, and airplanes and trains seem to always contain an allergy trigger. Whether it's from spending time in new places or around new people, you're likely to be exposed to something that can irritate your allergy conditions. Try a few of the following tips on your next journey to make your allergies less of an issue.


Get medications refilled before your trip. In case of travel delays, it may be a good idea to carry an extra dose of medications. Medications should always be packed in a carry-on bag or purse for easy access. Never pack them in luggage that could be lost at the airport. It is also a good idea to keep all medications in original containers to get through airport security.

Additionally, people that have an allergy to food should put snacks in their carry-on so they can avoid disagreeable foods on airlines and trains.


Try to locate a hotel that offers allergy-friendly rooms. Some hotels are now totally smoke-free, which could be helpful. Avoid smoke-free rooms that are located one floor above the smokers' floor. The smoke can rise up to your floor and aggravate your allergies.

Many hotels advertise if they are pet friendly. Since animal dander can be tough to control or clean up, your allergies may act up if a dog or a cat has recently stayed in the room you are assigned. These hotels should be avoided when you have allergies to animal dander.

Car Travel

Pollution is generally at its lowest during the late evening and early morning hours. It is a good idea to use the recirculation setting when running your air conditioner in the car, so you do not pull in outside air. This minimizes your chances of being exposed to environmental elements that may trigger your allergies.


Although it is illegal on most domestic flights, some international flights may still permit smoking. If you have allergies, request a seat far from the smoking area.

Taking some of these things into consideration is a nice way to ensure that your travel will be as easy as possible. Never let your allergies get in the way of going on a trip and having an adventure again!

Tuesday, 07 October 2014 18:58

Avoiding Food Allergy Mistakes with Children

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We are hearing talk of food allergies more often because there seems to be an increase in allergies found in children. What should you do if you think your child might have an allergy? Stay calm and consider these important points. Don't hesitate to contact a pediatric allergist if you see serious symptoms.

Self Diagnosing

If you are familiar with some of the symptoms of food allergies, you may think about trying to diagnose your child but this is usually a mistake. Common symptoms can include stomach pain, hives, sneezing, coughing, itching or diarrhea. Diagnosing a food allergy is difficult because many of the symptoms could be pointing to another problem and not necessarily a food allergy.

Changing a Diet

Parents assume that changing the child's diet is the best course of action when in reality it is another pitfall. Health professionals don’t recommend changing a child's diet before you have seen a pediatric allergist. It is actually harder to get a proper diagnosis when foods are removed from a diet. Eliminating essential food groups from a child's diet can be unhealthy and they could become deficient in key nutrients needed for growth.

Keep a Log 

Write down all the food your child eats for a couple of weeks and note any symptoms seen after eating. It is a good idea to note the time they ate in relation to the time a symptom may have appeared. A log with two weeks worth of documentation can help a specialist to rule out several foods and determine a better recommendation.

Professional Help

Since most parents do not have the training to properly determine what is wrong with their child, it is best to get professional help. Avoid practitioners who are not qualified to test for food allergies. If you see unusual symptoms, contact a pediatric allergist to get your child tested. Consult with a dietitian about food and nutrition if your allergist finds problems.

Parents and schools have come to realize the seriousness of treating severe allergic reactions quickly with allergy shots. Schools are taking the initiative to see that epinephrine auto-injectors are available and used to stop allergic reactions in children and staff.


Federal legislation for keeping epinephrine at schools was signed by President Obama in 2013. The Emergency Epinephrine Act provides strong incentives for states to legislate epinephrine and provide trained personnel to dispense the shots. All states except two already have legislation in place or having pending legislation ready to go. Rhode Island and New Hampshire have no legislation in place for stocking schools with epinephrine at this time.

Anaphylaxis is a dangerous allergic reaction, which can be life-threatening. Allergy shots containing epinephrine can stop allergic reactions in an instant. Most classrooms have an average of at least two children with known food allergies that may need immediate attention and require an injection of epinephrine.

Medications, foods, insect stings, latex and other triggers can cause anaphylaxis reactions. In most cases, 90 percent of food allergies are the result of eating soy, milk, tree nuts, shellfish, peanuts, fish or wheat. In some instances a child merely has to touch or inhale an allergen to have an allergic reaction.

Now that most states have epinephrine legislation in place, it will be up to the schools to keep epinephrine and find the money to make the purchases. In addition, the schools must provide training to teachers, nurses and administrative personnel for administering shots. Auto-injectors come loaded with medication that is dispensed with a small needle into the upper region of the thigh.

Parents who have children with known allergies are advised to have their children carry their own allergy shots. Young children can easily lose their epinephrine shots, so emergency epinephrine auto-injectors stored on the school's premise provides an excellent backup source.




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