New research out of the Boston Children’s Hospital has demonstrated an important role of gut bacteria in food allergies. The scientists transplanted fecal material from human babies with and without food allergies into mice that had been engineered to have severe egg allergies. When mice received fecal matter from babies with food allergies, their egg allergies persisted. However, when they received fecal matter from healthy babies, they were protected from anaphylaxis - a potentially fatal allergic reaction.
Back in the 80s and 90s, researchers began observing that gut bacteria in animals appeared to play a role in preventing food allergies. Specifically, something about gut bacteria was ensuring that the immune system recognized foods as harmless, even though they were foreign. Normally, the immune system attacks foreign entities it deems harmless as a way to ensure health and safety.
In 2000, a new study was published showing that mice with a specific genetic mutation disrupted communication between gut bacteria and the immune system. What was fascinating, though, was that mice with this mutation also experienced anaphylaxis when they were exposed to peanuts.
Since this key combination of observations linking gut bacteria to food allergies, it has been shown that a causal relationship exists between the microbiome and food allergies. One specific species of bacteria, known as Anarostipes caccae, is important for preventing allergies to cow’s milk. This role of Anarostipes caccae was discovered when it was observed that mice with lower levels of this bacteria were more likely to have allergic reactions to cow’s milk and that transferring this bacteria to mice could protect against such allergic reactions.
How can this information on the connection between gut bacteria and food allergies be put to use?
Researchers have established ways to use differences in the microbiome to predict which children will outgrow their food allergies. Ongoing research into the mechanisms underlying this connection will hopefully lead to the development of strategies to prevent or treat food allergies. Clinical trials are currently underway to determine if probiotic supplements may provide an opportunity to combat food allergies.
Many asthma sufferers do not realize that there are different types of asthma diagnoses that depend on the frequency of asthma symptoms. Whereas people who suffer from asthma symptoms regularly are often diagnosed with persistent asthma, those who experience symptoms 2 days each week or less are likely to be diagnosed with intermittent asthma. Those with intermittent asthma also do not have more than 2 night flares each month.
The main feature of intermittent asthma is flare-ups occurring only a few times each month. The symptoms themselves can range in severity, but most people with intermittent asthma have mild symptoms. It is possible for those with intermittent asthma to have asthma that progresses to persistent asthma.
Whether intermittent or persistent, asthma tends to generally include the same symptoms. These symptoms include difficulty breathing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, coughing, and wheezing. Coughing tends to happen more frequently at night or following exercise. These symptoms are caused by a few different physiological activities, including inflammation in the airway and shrinking and spasms of the lungs.
Those with intermittent asthma often notice that their symptoms are triggered by specific stimuli, such as certain chemicals, smoke, pollen, cold air, or pet dander. Respiratory infections often also lead to asthma symptoms in intermittent asthma patients.
Intermittent asthma patients can manage their symptoms by avoiding their triggers, but they will often still require medical intervention as well. Treatment for intermittent asthma, however, may be different than treatment for persistent asthma. Specifically, intermittent asthma often requires fewer treatments. The treatments are likely to be short-acting beta agonists, such as albuterol - also known as a rescue inhaler - or oral corticosteroids like prednisone. Even though people with intermittent asthma may feel as though their symptoms resolve, it is important to pursue treatment to prevent severe asthma attacks.
Food allergies have increased over time, especially in young children, as has the consumption of highly processed foods. New research suggests that this co-occurrence may not be a coincidence. A new study has shown that food allergies in children are in fact associated with higher levels of a compound found in junk food. The compound, called advanced glycation end product (AGE), is a protein or lipid that has been exposed to sugar.
AGEs are already known to have a role in certain neurological disorders and diseases such as diabetes. They are found in processed and microwaved foods as well as in many meat products. Given the high levels of AGEs in junk food, scientists have begun to wonder if these compounds could account for the link between diet and rising food allergies.
To evaluate the relationship between AGEs and food allergies in children, researchers conducted a study comparing children who had food allergies to those with respiratory allergies and those with no allergies. There were 61 study participants, and they ranged in age from 6 to 12 years.
The scientists found that children who ate more junk food had higher levels of AGEs beneath their skin. Additionally, compared to those with respiratory allergies or no allergies at all, children with food allergies had these higher levels of subcutaneous AGE. These results suggest that the AGEs found in junk food could have something to do with the development of food allergies in children.
This new study is not the first to point to suggest that junk food could adversely impact the immune system. Another study, conducted in 2013, investigated the relationship between fast food consumption and the likelihood of developing asthma, rhinoconjunctivitis, and eczema. This study, which involved the analysis of data from nearly 320,000 adolescents and over 180,000 children found that eating fast food at least 3 times each week was associated with a significant increase in the risk of developing allergic disease.
The specific role junk food plays in allergies, asthma, and other allergic diseases is not yet clear. However, accumulating evidence suggests that these foods may be to blame not only for issues like obesity but also for the rising food allergy prevalence. Though we know that staying away from junk food is important for maintaining a healthy weight, it may be the case that avoiding these foods can also lower the risk of developing food allergies.
A new study aimed at understanding how to improve asthma control in adults over the age of 60 has found that customizing education about asthma and how to use medications significantly improves these patients’ likelihood of taking their medications. As a result of better medication adherence, these patients also experience better asthma control. Data from this randomized trial are published in JAMA Internal Medicine.
Older adults tend to suffer from worse asthma control than younger adult patients. Given that less than 40% of older asthma patients regularly use their medications, the authors of this new study hypothesized that finding ways to improve medication adherence could be the key to improving asthma control in this population.
New York City residents over the age of 59 with uncontrolled asthma participated in this trial, called the Self Management Behaviors in Older Adults (SAMBA). Each of the 406 participants was randomly assigned to receive a self-management intervention that occurred at home, a clinic-based intervention, or usual care without management support.
The researchers found that the patients who had interventions experienced better control of their asthma symptoms and better quality of life over the course of 12 months of follow-up. After a year of interventions, these patients also visited the emergency room for asthma-related issues less frequently than the control group that received no management support.
When the researchers investigated the specific medication-related behaviors, they found that those who received the interventions were more likely to take their recommended medications and correctly use their asthma inhalers than those who were not given the relevant support. Whether the interventions were provided at home or in the clinic did not affect outcomes.
These results improve our understanding of how to help older asthma patients better control their asthma symptoms, mainly by enabling them to properly follow clinicians’ medication recommendations. The results also point to the importance of customizing solutions to specific populations, which requires understanding the specific challenges that different groups of asthma patients may face.
Trying to predict whether children will develop asthma is not a new pursuit. People who have asthma themselves or who know that their children carry risk factors that may increase their children’s likelihood of getting the disease are eager to get their hands on information that can help them predict whether their children will one day have asthma. To date, most of the tools to help assess children’s risk of developing asthma have been binary, meaning that their readout simply says that a child is or is not likely to develop asthma.
A new online tool, the Pediatric Asthma Risk Score (PARS) is a free way to evaluate asthma risk in young children, and it gives a more dynamic picture of a child’s asthma risk than other tools can. PARS asks questions related to 6 known risk factors for asthma: parental asthma, race, allergy skin test results, wheezing, and difficulty breathing. The output of the tool is a percentage likelihood that the child will have asthma by the time he or she is 7 years old.
Compared to the sensitivity of the standard Asthma Predictive Index (API), that of PARS is 11% higher. Researchers hope that they will be able to incorporate more risk factors into the tool over time so that it becomes even more sensitive.
Tools like PARS can be helpful for parents not only to alleviate the worry they may feel about the potential for their child to develop asthma but also to help them to be proactive when their child is at significant risk. Those who find that their child is likely to develop asthma can learn how to best monitor their child and help to ensure that they intervene early if intervention is indeed needed.
Given that PARS is more sensitive than other tools for assessing as asthma risk in young children, it could become very useful for clinicians and parents. Other benefits of the tool are that it is free, non-invasive, and provides more information than other tools.
Even if the only time we spend at home is while sleeping, we spend a significant amount of time in our houses. For people with allergies, ridding the home of as many allergens as possible can improve quality of life and reduce allergy symptoms on a daily basis. While it may be difficult to completely remove all allergens, using certain appliances can have a large impact in decreasing the number of allergens in your home. Some of the most beneficial appliances are:
- Vacuum cleaners that have HEPA filters built into them. HEPA filters help to trap even the smallest dust particles. Using these kinds of vacuums in the house at least once a week can be incredibly helpful in getting rid of problematic allergens.
- Fresh air filters in the HVAC system. Fresh filters will trap more dust than older filters and will also keep the system operating efficiently so that air is well circulated.
- Stand-alone air purifiers. Air purifiers work by both circulating air around rooms and also trapping particles in the air. Research on the impact of air purifiers has found that when air purifiers are used properly, they can reduce particulate matter by about 50%.
- Exhaust fan over stove. Humidity in the house can lead to mold that can cause or exacerbate allergy symptoms. Using an exhaust fan over the stove - particularly when cooking with high heat - can help reduce humidity and resulting mold.
Technological innovations have been beneficial for those with allergies because they have led to the development of effective and affordable appliances that can help us combat allergy symptoms and allergic reactions. However, there are also some very simple solutions to help rid houses of allergens. For instance, replacing bedding regularly and ensuring that bedding is made of cotton rather than synthetic fibers can help to minimize allergic reactions. Switching out rugs can also get pet dander, pollen, and dust out of the house. Combining these different strategies is the best way to ensure that your house is as allergen-free as possible
For those with food allergies, eating out can be anxiety-provoking, as it is difficult to control what ends up on your plate. Even if the problematic ingredient is not purposefully included in a dish, cross-contamination can occur in the kitchen. The result is that people with food allergies can still come into contact with food allergens at restaurants, even if they don’t order something containing that allergen.
To complicate matters further, allergens can get into the air during cooking, so simply cooking certain foods can put restaurants at risk for exposing allergic individuals to dangerous allergens. Given the safety risks, it is important for restaurant staff to be knowledgeable about food allergies to the extent that they can minimize harmful exposure to their customers.
A recent study in Germany, published in PLOS One, evaluated 295 people working in restaurants to determine how well they understood food allergies. Over the course of 3 months, researchers conducted face-to-face interviews with restaurant staff, about half of whom were servers.
Nearly 90% of those interviewed said that they were confident that they could provide meal information related to allergies, and 46% had completed training in food allergies. Nonetheless, not even half of the restaurant staffers could correctly answer a 5-question quiz on food allergies. Only 30% could name 3 food allergens, and 35% believed the common misconception that water alleviates food allergy reactions.
Also concerning was that individuals working in restaurants demonstrated negative views towards patrons with food allergies. While nearly 20% of those interviewed said that they would rather not serve those with food allergies, 42% said that they don’t believe customers who declare allergies. Interestingly, female servers were more likely than male servers to believe those who said that they were allergic to certain foods.
These data demonstrate that there is no correlation between food allergy training and food allergy knowledge, as those who have undergone training do not appear to be more knowledgeable about food allergies than the general population. These results suggest that new training programs may need to be developed if restaurant workers are to understand food allergies. Until then, people with food allergies should be extra cautious when dining at restaurants.
Both omega-3s and omega-6, which are found in a variety of foods, appear to impact asthma symptoms in children. Interestingly though, they seem to have opposite effects on asthma symptom severity. Specifically, new evidence suggests that omega-3 intake is associated with milder asthma symptoms in children, whereas omega-6 intake is associated with more severe symptoms.
The study, published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, involved following 135 children who live in Baltimore. The children ranged in age from 5 to 12. The researchers evaluated what the children ate and the level of air pollutants in their homes, as well as their asthma symptoms and their use of asthma medications. The children were assessed at 3 separate times: at the start of the study, after 3 months, and after 6 months.
Data from the study demonstrated that children whose blood samples had higher levels of omega-3s were more likely to have milder signs and symptoms of asthma. In contrast, the children with higher levels of omega-6s were at higher risk for more severe asthma symptoms and more severe asthmatic responses to certain pollutants in the air that are known to trigger asthma.
In addition to the correlation between omega intake and asthma symptom severity, the researchers also found that higher levels of omega-3 and omega-6 was also associated with physiological markers of asthma. Indeed, children with higher levels of omega-6s also had higher levels of immune cells associated with inflammation in their blood, whereas those with higher levels of omega-3s had lower levels of these cells.
Foods like fish, nuts, and seeds contain high levels of omega-3s, whereas omega-6s are more easily found in vegetable oils. These new data indicate that omega-3s may help to mitigate asthma symptom severity. Though the details on how omega-3s may confer their benefits to those with asthma is not yet clear, omega-3s are known to have other health benefits and are found in healthy foods. It is therefore reasonable for those with asthma to increase their intake of omega-3s, as they may enjoy benefits from more omega-3 consumption.
Over 6 million children in the U.S. suffer from asthma, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which is approximately 12% of all children in our country. However, the prevalence of asthma amongst children is not evenly distributed between distinct demographics. Instead, minority children, those who are obese, and those who reside in urban locations are more likely to suffer from the condition.
New research, funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health and conducted by scientists at Johns Hopkins University, has focused on how to protect children in urban environments from asthma. The study, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, specifically investigated the potential of vitamin D - which has been increasingly recognized as a vitamin in which people across the U.S. are deficient - to affect these children’s susceptibility to asthma and asthma symptoms.
The researchers studied 120 children in Baltimore who had been diagnosed with asthma, about 40 of whom were also obese. The scientists evaluated the children 4 separate times over a 9-month period, looking at the children’s asthma symptoms, the level of air pollution in their homes, and the amount of vitamin D in their blood.
The results of the study showed that for obese children with asthma, low vitamin D levels were associated with higher risks of being impacted by indoor air pollution. In other words, obese children who lived in homes that had the highest levels of air pollution had fewer asthma symptoms if their vitamin D levels were higher.
Future research should help to clarify how exactly vitamin D may confer its respiratory benefits, but experts agree that it is likely to work through its antioxidant properties and to thereby affect pathways of the immune system. For now, they argue that our growing knowledge of the link between vitamin D and asthma amongst obese children in urban communities justifies higher levels of vitamin D intake. While vitamin D levels can be improved through sunlight, consuming dietary supplements and food high in vitamin D, such as fatty fish and milk, may be a more reliable way to increase vitamin D levels.
In attempts to develop therapies for seasonal allergies, researchers in Austria are using animals not often associated with scientific research: camels.
There are currently about 800 million people worldwide suffering from seasonal allergies induced by pollen, and though there are several treatment options on the market, seasonal allergy sufferers often struggle to control their symptoms and see their symptoms worsen over time. New treatments are therefore continuously sought, and research into seasonal allergies remains a robust line of investigation.
Camels provide a unique opportunity for allergy treatment because, unlike other animals, who tend to produce antibodies containing what are referred to as two “heavy” and two “light” chains, camels are able to produce single-chained antibodies that are more capable of binding strongly to allergens and thereby preventing their problematic impact on the immune system.
Normally, upon exposure to an allergen like pollen, those who develop allergies will begin to produce antibodies against that allergen. The next time they are exposed to the allergen, those antibodies will bind to the allergen and set off a chain reaction in the immune system that leads to inflammation and allergy symptoms.
If we can produce allergen-specific antibodies that more readily bind allergens like pollen, we can prevent our own antibodies from binding to those allergens and thus prevent the resulting allergy symptoms. This logic is driving the high-performance nanobody technology project taking place in Vienna, where researchers are injecting allergens into camels and obtaining antibodies from their blood.
The hope is that these antibodies will enable us to protect against seasonal allergies through the development of treatments that will be used locally, in the nose or in the eyes. The researchers expect that it will take between 8 and 10 years to develop these therapies, and further investigation will help determine the feasibility and timeline for such treatments.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the first generic version of an asthma inhaler, Advair Diskus. The generic inhaler is referred to as the Wixela Inhub. In addition to asthma, the inhaler is also used for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The FDA has made this approval as part of its efforts to increase access to inhalers for those who need them and to reduce the costs of those inhalers in the hopes that more patients who need the inhalers will purchase them and use them before their conditions get worse.
The inhaler comes with some side effects, which differ for asthma and COPD patients. All patients using the inhaler may experience hoarseness, respiratory infections, and headaches. However, asthma patients using the inhaler are more likely to experience oral thrush, bronchitis, throat swelling, cough, nausea, or vomiting, while those with COPD are more likely to experience musculoskeletal pain or pneumonia as a result of the inhaler.
The new generic inhaler comes in 3 different strengths:
- Fluticasone propionate 100 mcg/salmeterol 50 mcg
- Fluticasone propionate 250 mcg/salmeterol 50 mcg
- Fluticasone propionate 500 mcg/salmeterol 50 mcg
The inhaler is meant to be used two times each day to treat asthma patients who are at least 4 years old and as a maintenance treatment for COPD patients to reduce COPD exacerbations. Unlike some other inhalers, Wixela Inhub is not meant to be used to relieve acute asthma attacks.
As part of their research and development efforts, Mylan, the company that has produced the generic inhaler, did a 28-day study with over 1,000 asthma patients to compare the effects of the 100 mcg/50 mcg Advair Diskus inhaler with those of the 100 mcg/50 mcg Wixela Inhub inhaler. Through this study, which was randomized, double-blind, and placebo-controlled, the researchers found that the treatments were equally effective and that both inhalers were well-tolerated.
Asthma has long been linked to obesity, and researchers have shown over the years that not only does obesity increase the chances of developing asthma, but asthma also increases the chances of developing obesity. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 40% of adults who suffer from asthma are also obese. The relationship between these two conditions is therefore complex but deep.
A new study conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University has shown that a low-calorie diet can prevent asthma symptoms. Interestingly, low calorie diets appear able to improve asthma symptoms regardless of the fat content or sugar content included in the diets. This study was published in Scientific Reports.
To delve deeper into the link between calories and asthma symptoms, the researchers looked not only at the impact of low-calorie diets on asthma symptoms but also on the impact of high-calorie diets. Consistent with their findings on low-calorie diets, the researchers observed that high-calorie diets were associated with asthma symptoms and that these symptoms were mediated by increased lung inflammation. When a drug that blocks the lung inflammation was implemented, the asthma symptoms associated with high-calorie diets were avoided.
To test their questions about the impact of calories on asthma symptoms, the scientists provided mice with 1 of 4 separate diets: a low-calorie diet, a high-calorie diet with more calories and fat per gram, a high-calorie diet with more calories and sugar per gram, or a high calorie diet that was high in transfat and also supplemented with sugar. After 8 weeks of this feeding schedule, the mice on each of the 3 high-calorie diets had gained at least 7 grams more weight than the mice on low-calorie diets. In addition, the mice on high-calorie diets experienced higher rates of airway constriction than did those on low-calorie diets. This constriction, however, was reduced if anti-inflammatory drugs were administered.
These results show the potential for high-calorie diets to exacerbate asthma symptoms. Future research will need to further clarify the links between obesity, diet, inflammation, and asthma. Given findings that traditional therapies like steroid inhalers do not work as well in asthma sufferers who are also obese, it will be important to determine the factors that contribute to therapy responsiveness and to develop evidence-based protocols for specific populations of asthma patients in order to optimize their outcomes.
Leading allergy organizations around the world – including the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, and the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology - have recommended that IgG tests not be used in the diagnosis of food allergies, intolerances, or sensitivities. Nonetheless, companies continue to push their food IgG tests on unsuspecting patients. At best, these tests are a waste of time and money. At worst, they result in misinformed patients who lack an understanding of their body’s reactions to certain foods and how best to manage potentially problematic reactions.
What is wrong with using the IgG test to identify adverse reactions to foods? Unfortunately, there is no scientific evidence that strongly suggests that IgG is predictive of one’s reaction to foods. According to expert allergists and immunologists, high IgG levels likely reflect a perfectly normal immune response to food, and a particularly high IgG level may indicate that someone has a good tolerance for the food in question. Nonetheless, someone administering a food IgG test who found high levels of IgG in response to the consumption of a certain food would tell the patient that the food had caused an adverse reaction.
Another significant problem with clinics using the IgG test to help patients make decisions about their diets is that these clinics often use the concepts of food allergies and food sensitivities interchangeably, though food allergies and food sensitivities represent vastly different bodily responses to food. A food allergy poses a potentially life-threatening situation wherein the immune system reacts to what could potentially be a very small portion of the food allergen. A food sensitivity, on the other hand, tends to refer to a reaction in the gastrointestinal (GI) system that is dose dependent, meaning that the more of the substance one consumes, the more affected they are.
In practical terms, when someone has a food allergy, they tend to have to avoid that food altogether. With food sensitivities, there is often no reason to avoid the food, but the patient may want to reduce the amount of that food they consume so that it does not cause them discomfort. Whereas a food allergy may lead to tongue swelling and difficulty breathing, a food sensitivity is more likely to cause bloating, stomach pain, and diarrhea.
Given that food allergies are much more serious than food sensitivities and should be dealt with in a more urgent manner, people who are concerned that they may adversely react to certain foods but are unsure if they have an allergy or sensitivity should consult a licensed allergist or immunologist so that they can be properly screened for allergies. These physicians can help to navigate symptoms and food reactions and determine the best course of action to ensure patients’ safety and comfort.
Allergies are on the rise in the United States, but a new study published in JAMA Network Open reveals that the reported increase in food allergies may be overblown. According to their data, the researchers who published the study concluded that almost 50% of people who believe they have a food allergy do not qualify for a food allergy diagnosis.
To determine the validity of people’s beliefs about their food allergy status, the scientists surveyed over 40,000 adults in the U.S. Nearly one in five of those surveyed believed that they had a food allergy. However, once details of their history and symptoms were evaluated, it was discovered that only about one in ten of those people truly suffer from a food allergy.
Allergy and immunology experts have pondered why this discrepancy exists and have posed two ideas. One idea is that those who falsely believe that they have a food allergy suffer instead from another type of allergy, such as seasonal allergies and do not recognize the true cause for their allergy symptoms. Another idea is that these people mistake food intolerance for food allergies. While food intolerance can make people feel unwell, an important distinction between food intolerance and food allergy is that only a food allergy engages the immune system.
What this means in a practical sense is that those with a food intolerance can still eat the food to which they are intolerant. Indeed, food intolerance works in a dose-dependent way, so small amounts of the food may be well-tolerated and larger amounts may lead to symptoms. Allergic reactions to food, on the other hand, can be life threatening even at incredibly small doses.
The researchers found that the symptoms reported by many of those who incorrectly believed they had food allergies were more consistent with seasonal allergies and food intolerance, corroborating experts’ suspicions that seasonal allergies and food intolerance could account for at least some cases where people erroneously believe they have a food allergy. Perpetuating the confusion about the distinctions between food allergy and food intolerance may be the rise in clinics that claim that they can identify adverse reactions with a single test – despite the inability of these tests to do so - and that use the concepts of food allergy and food insensitivity interchangeably. Educating patients on what food allergies are and how they can identify the symptoms of food allergies may help to improve people’s understanding of these allergies and how to manage them.
A new study published in Thorax suggests that a couple’s fertility may impact the likelihood that their children develop asthma. Previous research had shown that children who are conceived with the help of fertility treatments, known as assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs), may be at heightened risk for asthma. However, existing data have made it hard to determine if fertility treatments themselves lead to increased asthma risk, if the culprit could instead be whatever factor led to the couple’s reduced fertility, or if some other factor or combination of factors was to blame.
To help clarify the relationship between fertility and asthma risk in offspring, a research group leveraged data from national Norwegian health registries that included information on nearly 475,000 children who were born between 1998 and 2009. Included in these data were information on the use of fertility treatments, the time to conception, details of previous miscarriages, and maternal factors such as age, asthma status, weight, and smoking habits.
The researchers’ results corroborated previous findings that children conceived with the aid of ARTs are at a higher risk for developing asthma. Indeed, the researchers found that those conceived through fertility treatments were 42 percent more likely to develop childhood asthma – defined as the use of asthma medications during the previous year when children were seven – than those conceived in the absence of fertility treatments.
However, asthma risk also correlated with other factors indicative of fertility. For instance, children of those who took more than a year to conceive were more likely to develop asthma, as were those whose mothers had previously suffered first trimester miscarriages. The risk amongst children of mothers who had miscarried increased with the number of miscarriages. While the risk for asthma was seven percent higher in children whose mothers had experienced one miscarriage than in those who had experienced no miscarriages, the risk increased 24 percent for those whose mothers had had three or more miscarriages.
The increased risk amongst children of mothers with three or more miscarriages was comparable to the increased risk observed in those whose parents took over a year to conceive. The increased risk in the latter group was 22 percent. While these data point to a relationship between fertility and asthma in offspring, the increased risk of asthma observed in children who were conceived with the help of fertility treatments was much higher. These children experienced a heightened asthma risk of 42 percent
Parental fertility appears to play a role in children’s asthma risk, but something about fertility treatments or those who undergo those treatments may contribute more significantly to this risk than does low fertility itself. According to experts, ART procedures—including the modification of the hormonal environment—may affect fetal development and may account for some of the increased risk for asthma that is observed in children conceived through these methods. Future research will help to clarify the specific link between parental fertility and children’s asthma risk and hopefully provide insights into how we can intervene to reduce asthma risk in these children.
The pharmaceutical company Sanofi, in collaboration with Sema4—a predictive health company that spun out of Mount Sinai Health System—just launched a major study to help improve our understanding of asthma, as well as our ability to provide better treatments and recommendations to those who suffer from asthma.
This new longitudinal study, which will take place over five years and involve nearly 1,200 asthma patients, is unique in that it is employing cutting-edge digital and analytical methods to gain enormous amounts of data related to asthma in real-time and to produce valuable, actionable insights from these data.
Using assets like connected inhalers, sensor data from mobile devices, and environmental, genomic, and immunological information, the researchers will track and analyze how asthma affects individuals – and how it affects certain people differently than it affects others. They will also track what triggers asthma attacks, the mechanisms by which asthma occurs, and which patients are most likely to respond to specific therapeutic interventions.
Given that approximately 235 million people suffer from asthma across the globe and that roughly 400,000 people die each year as a result of the disease, there are significant opportunities to gather information about the disease, make sense of that information, and then use it to improve the global state of asthma and asthma care.
With the help of sophisticated machine learning techniques, Sanofi and Sema4 will not only be able to collect huge amounts of data on asthma and asthma patients, but they will also be able to process those data efficiently and translate the data into meaningful information that should allow clinicians and researchers to make better predictions about the course of asthma in individual patients
This information should also improve clinical decision making related to providing patients with the best therapeutic options that are currently available to them. In addition, this new information is likely to help the research community identify new drug targets to improve and expand the tools we currently have to address asthma and improve quality of life for those with the condition.
In recent years, oral immunotherapy has been used more and more to fight food allergies. This strategy works by desensitizing people to the substance to which they are allergic by introducing increasingly larger amounts of the substance. When successful, oral immunotherapy helps the immune system learn that the substance is not harmful, and as a result, the immune system stops overreacting to the innocuous allergen.
A new study on oral immunotherapy has given hope to those with wheat allergies and their families. The study, which was published a few weeks ago in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, provided oral immunotherapy or a placebo to 46 people with severe wheat allergies. The participants ranged in age from 4 years old to 22 years old, and their wheat allergies were diagnosed through skin prick challenges.
The oral immunotherapy that was provided to half of the group was a low-dose vital wheat gluten that contained 70 percent wheat protein. Over the course of an entire year, the dose of vital wheat gluten given to those receiving the oral immunotherapy was slightly increased every two weeks.
After 52 weeks of participation in the study, 0 percent of those who were given placebo could tolerate a test dose of 4,443 milligrams of wheat protein, which is approximately the amount of wheat protein found in a hamburger bun or about a half a cup of cooked pasta. By comparison, more than half of those who had received oral immunotherapy were able to tolerate this dose with no adverse reactions.
Compared to the results of oral immunotherapy with other allergens like peanuts or milk, the response rates with wheat oral immunotherapy were a bit lower. According to experts, there could be a number of reasons for this discrepancy. For instance, the amount of protein found in wheat is lower than what is found in peanuts or milk, which can make studying wheat allergy more challenging. It is also possible that a higher dose of oral immunotherapy is needed to generate a larger response in those with wheat allergies.
Given that the results of this study come from a relatively small sample and a sample of only young people with severe wheat allergies, more research is needed to help clarify exactly how oral immunotherapy can be used to help those with wheat allergies. These new results, however, are promising in terms of the potential for oral immunotherapy to provide protection against this type of allergy.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) currently requires that companies include on their food labels the inclusion of eight common food allergens, including: peanuts, wheat, eggs, milk, shellfish, tree nuts and soybeans. Sesame may soon be added to this list
In 2014, a group that included the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CPI) petitioned the FDA to begin including sesame on the list of major allergens as evidence began to mount suggesting that more than 300,000 Americans suffer from sesame allergies and that only 100 milligrams of sesame can cause allergic reactions that can range from mild to the most severe forms that involve life-threatening anaphylaxis.
This move by CPI and others was consistent with others’ views on sesame allergies, as the European Union, Canada, Australia and New Zealand all already require companies to disclose when sesame is contained within its products.
A recent study published in Pediatrics suggests that 150,000 children in the United States are affected by sesame allergies, making it the ninth most common food allergen. More than half of those allergic to sesame carry EpiPens to protect themselves from severe allergic reactions.
Now, as the FDA considers adding sesame to the list of allergens that must be disclosed on food labels, it is also requesting information on the allergy through the end of the year, particularly from epidemiologists, allergy researchers, physicians, and nutritionists. The hope is that insights from these experts will help the FDA to deepen its understanding of sesame allergies and the threats they pose
A major goal for including sesame on the FDA’s list of major allergens would be to make it easier for consumers to identify sesame and avoid it when necessary. In addition to including major allergens on labels, companies are also required to use common names that are easily recognizable to consumers.
Currently, sesame may go unidentified because consumers are not familiar with the names that manufacturers use to describe the substance. Some other terms for sesame are: sim sim, sesamol, til, gingelly, and benne. Those with sesame allergies – and the rest of the allergy community – are anxiously awaiting the FDA’s decision on how to best handle the risks associated with sesame allergies.
Food allergies are often considered allergies that may be outgrown. However, the likelihood of outgrowing a food allergy depends in large part to both the severity of the allergy and the specific food that causes the allergy. Allergies to milk, egg, wheat and soy, for instance, are the common food allergies that are often outgrown by the time children reach their late teens. Indeed, between 60 and 80 percent of children who are allergic to milk or eggs are able to ingest these foods without any adverse reactions by the age of 16.
Seafood allergies, though, are not on this list of food allergies that are commonly outgrown. A recent study supports the notion that seafood allergies are not often overcome. The research, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, tracked children and adults with seafood allergies for up to six years. The patients included 63 people – 37 of whom were allergic to non-shellfish fish, 25 of whom were allergic to shellfish, and one of whom was allergic to both.
Among those allergic to non-shellfish fish, the most common allergen was salmon. Approximately 18 percent of those with non-shellfish fish allergies were allergic to salmon – or almost one in five people. The most common shellfish allergy was shrimp, to which about half of those with shellfish allergies were allergic.
The results showed that less than one percent of those with seafood allergies experienced resolution of their allergies during each year of follow up. According to the researchers, non-shellfish fish and shellfish allergies account for most life-threatening allergic reactions to food, which involve anaphylaxis. It is, therefore, important for patients to understand their allergies and what to expect in terms of how their allergic reactions may evolve.
Given that this study was conducted on a relatively small sample and over just a six-year period, it is possible that future research will find more promising results for outgrowing seafood allergies over a more extended period of time. In the meantime, other research will continue to focus on ways that seafood and other food allergies can be prevented, treated and overcome.
Obesity has long been viewed as a risk factor for developing asthma. However, new evidence now suggests that the reverse may be true – that is, that asthma may be a risk factor for obesity. An international study has shown that toddlers who are diagnosed with asthma are more likely than those without asthma to become obese during childhood. The study involved 40 researchers and was led by scientists from the University of Southern California. The results were recently published in the European Respiratory Journal.
To investigate the potential for asthma to lead to obesity in children, the researchers studied 21,130 European children who were born between the years 1990 and 2008 in the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Greece, Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands. The results showed that the children who had been diagnosed with asthma between the ages of 3 and 4 were at a 66 percent higher risk for developing obesity than those who were not diagnosed with asthma. Children who had active asthma were almost twice as likely to develop obesity than those without active asthma.
The researchers speculate that there are a few different ways that asthma could contribute to obesity. For instance, those with asthma may be less likely to engage in physical activity. The corticosteroid medications that these children use to manage their asthma could also increase the risk for obesity.
Though this new research has not completely clarified the relationship between childhood asthma and obesity, any potential link is important because both diseases tend to lower quality of life for children. Understanding how asthma and obesity are linked may help in the development of interventions that can reduce the chances that children with one of these diseases develops the other.
The medical community has long recognized that obesity increases the risk of developing asthma. However, new research is complicating the story, suggesting that the opposite may also be true – i.e., that asthma may also increase the risk of becoming obese. According to the new data presented at the European Respiratory Society International Congress, people who have non-allergic asthma and those who have developed asthma as adults are at the highest risk of becoming obese.
The study, led by Dr. Subhabrata Moitra, included 8,618 people from 12 countries. Recruitment for the study started in the 1990s, and followed participants over 20 years. At the start of the study, these individuals were not obese, meaning that their body mass index, or BMI, was less than 30 kg/m2. Their asthma and BMI was then assessed at 10-year intervals over two decades. Participants were deemed to have asthma if they were taking asthma medication or if they reported having asthma and had had an asthma attack or had been awoken with shortness of breath at some point during the previous year.
Researchers evaluated the correlation between having asthma when the study began and the likelihood of obesity both 10 and 20 years later. They also considered other risk factors for obesity, including age, sex and physical activity. The scientists’ most significant finding was that 10.2 percent of people who had asthma at the start of the study had become obese ten years later, compared to only 7.7 percent of those who did not have asthma. Thus, though all people tended to gain weight and be more likely to become obese as they aged, the risks for obesity were higher among those with asthma than among those without asthma.
The specific link between asthma and obesity is unclear, but there does seem to be a relationship that makes having one of these conditions increase people’s likelihood of developing the other. Future research will aim to clarify the impact of each disease on the other so that we can develop strategies for reducing the risk of obesity in those with asthma and vice versa.
Over the last decade, a major mystery in the rise of red meat allergies has been partially solved, as scientists have discovered that being bitten by the Lone Star tick – which tends to be found in the southeastern United States – increases the risk of developing allergies to red meat. By increasing sensitivity to alpha-gal, which is a type of sugar molecule, ticks can make their victims become allergic to red meat that contains this type of sugar.
New evidence has now emerged that chigger bites may also lead to red meat allergies by lowering people’s tolerance to alpha-gal. The findings have been published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice.
The clue that chiggers may be helping to spread red meat allergies emerged from case reports from the University of Virginia and Wake Forest Baptist that described patients who had recently developed an allergy to red meat had not been exposed to ticks, but had recently experienced chigger bites. Researchers at UVA found that of 301 red meat allergy patients surveyed, 5.5 percent had experienced chigger bites over the previous decade but had not had any exposure to ticks.
To confirm whether chiggers are truly spreading red meat allergies, scientists will begin investigating whether chiggers have traces of alpha-gal in their saliva.
Chiggers are tiny red larvae that come from arachnid mites in the Trombiculidae family. These larvae eventually evolve into arachnids with eight legs. Being only about 1/150th of an inch in size, they are not easy to identify with the eye. However, once someone has been bitten by chiggers, they tend to experience intense itching. The subsequent scratching undertaken to relieve itching can lead to secondary infections.
While the itching they cause may lead people to assume that chiggers are similar to mosquitoes, they are actually more closely related to ticks. Like the Lone Star tick, chiggers can be found in the southeastern part of the United States, but they are more widespread than the Lone Star tick – also prevalent in the Midwest and found in northern states, through New York.
Red meat allergies can range from mild symptoms including hives to life-threatening reactions that involve anaphylaxis. Unlike many allergies that occur immediately after exposure to the allergen, the alpha-gal allergy often involves a delayed reaction that occurs between three and 12 hours after exposure.
There is no cure for this allergy, and the only way to prevent it is to avoid mammalian meat products. Future research into the specific causes of red meat allergy may help in the development of an effective treatment for this allergy.
The short answer is yes. The British Association of Dermatologists have recently reported on what they call an “allergy epidemic” resulting from exposure to a methacrylate – a chemical that is commonly used in gel polish, gel nails and acrylic nails. A major challenge with this rising allergen is that those experiencing allergic reactions do not always realize that their reaction results from a chemical on their nails because the symptoms can occur all over the body.
What happens when the allergy occurs is that the methacrylate comes into contact with the skin before it is dried or hardened by a UV light. Once this exposure occurs, nails may loosen, but severe red and itchy rashes can also occur, and these can pop up anywhere on the body. The rashes are commonly found on the eyelids, face, neck and genitals. Respiratory difficulties can even occur in the most severe cases.
It is important that people who are allergic to methacrylate identify the cause of their allergies so that they can avoid the allergen in the future. Unfortunately, gel polish and gel and acrylic nails are not the only places where methacrylate is found. They are used in acrylic plastic production and are found in devices, orthopedic cement and dressings used in surgeries and dental treatments.
According go the British Association of Dermatologists, approximately 2.4 percent of people tested are allergic to at least one type of methacrylate, and those who apply gel or acrylic nails or gel polish at home or who work in the beauty industry are at enhanced risk for methacrylate allergies. Recognizing that you are at risk for methacrylate allergies can help you identify the trigger if you do experience an allergic reaction.
A study recently published in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society has shown that four out of every 10 women with asthma may eventually develop chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The research team, led by Teresa To, studied 4,051 women who were diagnosed with asthma. They followed the women on average for 14 years and found that 1,701 of them – or 42 percent – developed COPD.
The researchers also studied asthma and COPD overlap syndrome, which is often referred to as ACOS. They found that there has been a sharp rise in women with ACOS in recent years, and that more women than men die from ACOS. They also found that fine particulate matter, which is a common air pollutant that has been shown to travel to the lungs and cause lung disturbances, is not as much of a factor in the development of ACOS as other individual risk factors, such as smoking.
According to their analyses, women who had smoked a pack each day for at least five years developed ACOS at significantly higher rates than those who smoked fewer or no cigarettes. Nonetheless, refraining from smoking does not guarantee that women with asthma will avoid ACOS. In fact, 28 percent of those who developed ACOS had never been smokers. Other factors that are associated with higher rates of ACOS development are: obesity, lower levels of education, unemployment and rural residence.
Based on the factors that appeared to increase the risk for developing ACOS, the scientists suggested that low socioeconomic status and lower access to care or lower adherence to medication recommendations could account for the increased incidence of ACOS. Indeed, improperly treated asthma can result in more frequent asthma attacks and more opportunity for remodeling conducive to COPD to occur within the lungs.
The good news is that the factors that were identified as associated with ACOS development are modifiable, which suggests that the rising incidence of ACOS among women could be curbed with proper interventions. Given that women who developed end up in the hospital more frequently and have a poorer quality of life than those who are diagnosed with only asthma or only COPD, it is important that we figure out ways to minimize ACOS. More research aimed at how to prevent the development of ACOS will help clinicians to provide care and recommendations for their patients to reduce the likelihood that asthma will develop into COPD.
A new study published in the European Respiratory Journal concluded that diets that include high levels of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are correlated with better asthma outcomes. These foods are known to be healthy, with an abundance of scientific evidence pointing to the ways that these foods, and the nutrients contained within them, stave off of health problems – from cardiovascular challenges to cancer to diabetes. This new research provides support for the idea that good nutrition can also improve respiratory health.
The role that diet plays in asthma symptoms and the frequency of asthma symptoms has been a topic of debate in the immunology field. As a result, people living with asthma have not had clear guidance on how they may be able to use their diet to improve their symptoms and quality of life. One of the goals of the study that was published in the European Respiratory Journal was to provide actionable information to patients with asthma on what may be beneficial for them to eat.
The researchers looked at data from 34,776 adults from France who had participated in the NutriNet Sante study, which looked at the relationship between nutrition and health. These data included information on respiratory health, including the frequency of respiratory symptoms, use of emergency medications and the extent to which asthma symptoms interfered with daily routines and activities. Within this data set, 25 percent of the male participants and 28 percent of the female participants displayed at least one asthma-related symptom.
The NutriNet Sante study also provided data related to nutrition. Healthy diets were deemed to be those that included high levels of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, whereas unhealthy diets were deemed to be those high in meat, salt, and sugar. What the research team revealed was that a healthy diet was associated with fewer asthma symptoms and better controlled asthma, and this effect was higher for men than for women.
Men who ate healthy diets were percent 30 less likely to display a symptom of asthma and 60 percent less likely to have uncontrolled asthma than men who ate unhealthy diets. The trend was similar but less significant for women. Compared to women who ate unhealthy diets, women on healthy diets were 20 percent less likely to have asthma symptoms and 27 percent less likely to have uncontrolled asthma.
The researchers suggested that the association between more healthy eating and better asthma outcomes may be at least partially due to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory characteristics of certain nutritious foods and the proinflammatory properties associated with certain unhealthy foods. While the details on how diet can be used to prevent or control asthma need to be clarified through more research, this new analysis builds on evidence that diets rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains contribute to better health.
When people experience allergic reactions, a blood protein or antibody, called Immunoglobin E (IgE) has recognized an allergen, interpreted it as harmful, and initiated the reaction that leads to allergy symptoms. According to some scientists, this same reaction can occur when we are exposed to environmental chemicals like those found in polluted air or tobacco smoke. This idea is known as the Toxin Hypothesis.
Researchers at Imperial College London studying the relationship between IgE and skin cancer have published new findings in Nature Immunology on how IgE may be able to protect the skin from developing cancer. This team of researchers had hypothesized that a function of IgE may be to protect against environmental chemicals, which is why IgE levels rise in response to these potentially harmful substances.
To test their idea, the scientists exposed the skin of mice to toxic chemicals. They found that this exposure did indeed cause IgE to travel to the skin and also to lower the chances of skin cancer developing in these mice. The researchers also observed skin tumors from 12 patients with a common form of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma. Every tumor they observed had IgE in it. Interestingly, though, the tumors that were less dangerous contained higher levels of IgE, while the tumors that were more threatening had lower levels of IgE.
Given that lower risk skin tumors were associated with higher levels of IgE, the scientists concluded that IgE may have a protective function for the skin and through this function, may prevent skin damage from developing into cancer. The details of how IgE could impart this protective effect on the skin are not yet clear, but the Imperial College London researchers hope that they will be able to uncover ways to use IgE to prevent or treat skin cancer.
While this study focused on IgE levels as they relate to environmental chemical exposure, new lines of research will likely investigate whether IgE levels associated with allergies and allergic reactions can confer the same kinds of benefits for the skin. It is possible that people who experience allergies and elevated IgE levels may have higher IgE levels on their skin in response, for example, to sun damage. If that were the case, the body’s natural reaction to allergens could help protect against skin cancer. More research is needed to understand the connection between IgE and skin cancer and the contexts in which IgE may be able to provide health benefits.
We have long known that red meat can contribute to poor health in several ways. It has been implicated in cardiovascular disease before, as well as in cancer, diabetes, and stroke. When it comes to heart disease, however, the link to red meat has been focused on the high levels of saturated fat that red meat carries and how saturated fat can worsen cardiovascular health.
Recently, however, allergies to red meat have cropped up – largely in response to tick bites from the Lone Star tick, which is most commonly found in the Southeastern United States. With the rise in meat allergies, scientists have begun delving deeper into what makes our bodies react to red meat. The culprit allergen has turned out to be a complex sugar referred to as alpha-gal.
There has been some evidence to suggest that people with allergies may be more likely to have buildup of fatty plaque in their arteries, and it is thought that this may be due to the immune response to allergens, which sets off a cascade of events that could lead to this atherosclerosis. In a new study, University of Virginia scientists investigated whether those with red meat allergies are more likely to have atherosclerosis.
The researchers evaluated the blood of 118 people from Virginia and looked for an antibody to alpha-gal, which would indicate allergy to red meat. They identified the antibody in 26 percent of their subjects, and those with this marker did indeed have higher levels of fatty plaques in their arteries than those without the antibody. The plaques found in these allergic patients were also more unstable than any fond in those without red meat allergy, and that instability is associated with a higher likelihood of heart attack and stroke.
This new study, published in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, provides some interesting insights into the potential link between allergies and cardiovascular disease. However, it does not clarify whether red meat allergies – or any allergies – actually increase the risk of heart disease. Future research will help elucidate this potential connection and improve our understanding of the relationship between allergies and heart health.
When people are allergic to dust mites, allergy symptoms are often worse at night. Dust mites live within dust and feed on skin cells that we regularly shed. Given the amount of time we spend in our beds, our beds tend to hold relatively high volumes of these skin cells and are therefore a target for dust mites. Proteins from dust mite decay can trigger allergic reactions that are similar to other types of allergic reactions, causing sneezing, itchiness, runny nose, watery eyes, and cough. As with many other allergens, dust mites can also lead to asthma.
Washing sheets regularly is one way to reduce the dust mite allergies that may occur at night. Keeping sheets clean and frequently ridding them of both the skin cells that dust mites consume and of the dust mites themselves can minimize the levels of the protein that causes the immune system to react. However, there is also bedding that is designed to prevent allergic reactions related to dust mites.
Allergy-proof bedding is covered in an extremely tightly woven material, which helps to prevent allergies in two key ways. First, it prevents the allergens that are already inside parts of the bed – like the mattress and pillows – from getting out to where they will expose people. Second, it prevents dead skin cells from getting inside the bedding so that dust mites do not have these cells to feed on, which means they starve and fail to reproduce.
There are several brands of bedding on the market that claim that their products are allergy-proof. While the material itself is not particularly important for conferring the anti-allergy benefits, it is important that the fabric have very tiny pores, six or fewer microns in diameter. These pieces of bedding should be used on items that you do not regularly wash – such as mattresses, pillows, box springs, and duvets or comforters.
It is important to note that allergy-proof bedding is most effective for preventing allergies associated with dust mites. Allergies associated with other allergens, such as pollen, will not be minimized to the same extent because other allergens do not require something unique to your bedding to live and reproduce. It is therefore good practice to regularly wash bedding to rid it of any and all allergens, even if you do use allergy-proof sheets and covers.
New research that was just presented at the annual Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting has shown that children aged 4 and younger are at a heightened risk for asthma exacerbations than older children and that the risk is highest during two seasons: spring and fall.
To conduct their analysis on the risk for asthma exacerbations – and who is most prone to them – the researchers used electronic health records from Denver, Colorado between January 1, 2011 and March 30, 2016. They looked specifically at the records for people between the ages of 0 and 20, which amounted to 14, 547 people with an asthma diagnosis.
The study identified 3 risk factors for asthma exacerbations: sex, age, and season. Specifically, males were more likely than females to experience exacerbations, children between the ages of 0 and 4 were more likely to experience exacerbations compared to those aged 5 to11 years and those aged 12 to 21 years, and exacerbations were more likely to occur in spring and fall than summer or winter. Summer was the season for which asthma exacerbations were the least likely to occur.
The majority of the individuals from this sample were from low-income families. There were more males (55%) than females within the sample, and Whites and Hispanics were the most represented races within the same. Whites accounted for 55% of the sample, while Hispanics accounted for 51% of it. Blacks made up 22% of the sample, and 23% identified as other or unknown.
While the results of this study may not be generalizable to the overall population, they provide some insight into the risk of asthma exacerbations and may provide information that can be used to prevent exacerbations, especially in cases where risk for exacerbation is elevated. Given the distress that childhood asthma exacerbations cause to both children and their parents, as well as the health-related financial costs, finding ways to prevent these events is a priority among the allergy and immunology communities.
One major challenge in peanut allergy diagnosis is that the tests commonly used to determine if the allergy exists frequently produce false positives. False positives are preferable to false negatives, which would lead to the incorrect assumption that those with peanut allergies do not have the allergy and thereby increase their likelihood of ingesting peanuts and thus their risk for allergic reactions.
However, the existence of false positives makes it difficult to know for certain if some people who tests positive for food allergies based on a skin test or an antibody test are truly allergic to peanuts. The result is that many of these people are then put through food challenges, where they are given increasingly larger doses of peanut proteins until they either have an allergic reaction or are deemed not to be allergic. Going through a food challenge can be unpleasant, especially for those who are allergic to peanuts and therefore experience an allergic reaction during the process.
A new test, called the mast cell activation test, or MAT, can now diagnose peanut allergies with a much higher degree of specificity than the conventionally used skin tests and antibody tests. A study showing that this degree of specificity is approximately 98% was recently published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
As part of their investigation into a peanut allergy test with high specificity, the researchers studied 174 children, 73 of whom had peanut allergy, 60 of whom were sensitized to peanuts but not allergic, and 41 of whom were neither sensitized nor allergic. They looked not only at the activation of their mast cells, which is certain cells of the immune system known to be involved in allergic reactions but also at the activation of a similar type of cell, called basophils.
Given that testing mast cell activation provided a higher degree of specificity for diagnosing peanut allergy than did testing basophil activation, the researchers concluded that MATs are the more promising test for helping to diagnose peanut allergies in the context of current methods for diagnosis and their specific limitations. Future work will focus on adapting MAT to other types of food allergies, such as those to milk, eggs, and other seeds and nuts. The hope is that eventually, far fewer patients will have to undergo food challenges to determine whether they have food allergies.
Food Allergy Research and Education, the largest private funding source for food allergy research and the leading organizing that supports people living with food allergies, were involved in a study that was published in April and provides hope that a vaccine against peanut allergies may soon be a reality. Given that the only FDA-approved approaches to food allergies are currently avoidance and inhibiting the food allergy once a reaction has started, the potential for a medical intervention that could prevent an allergic reaction when peanuts are ingested is incredibly exciting for those who deal with peanut allergies. Often one of the worst things about peanut allergies is the anxiety associated with the idea of accidental ingestion of peanuts.
The research, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, involved an ultrafine nasal spray that was tested in mice. The spray vaccine that was used offers a type of immunotherapy, which is a strategy that has become popular for combatting food allergies. Immunotherapy involves introducing people to small amounts of the substance to which they are allergic so that their immune system learns to recognize that substance as harmless and ceases to react to it. The impact of other immunotherapies on peanut allergies have been tested but have only been shown to help subsets of patients or to help patients only for a certain amount of time.
The vaccine tested in this study was made of peanut protein and a nano-emulsion. The purpose of the peanut protein is to train the immune system to handle peanuts, much like other immunotherapies. The nano-emulsion makes the vaccine different from other immunotherapies, however. Because nano-emulsions have been shown to encourage strong immune responses that seem to fight infections, the researchers reasoned that nano-emulsions could help redirect the immune system when an unnecessary immune reaction may otherwise occur in response to peanuts. In other words, the nano-emulsion may be able to distract the immune system, making it focus on other activities rather than overreact to innocuous peanut proteins.
The researchers gave mice that were induced to have peanut allergies three intranasal doses of the vaccine over a two month period. Two weeks later, these mice did not have the same allergic reaction to peanuts as those that had not undergone the vaccine treatment. The researchers are therefore hopeful that this strategy could also help those with peanut allergies and prevent reactions that could occur if they were exposed to peanuts.
Given that severe allergic reactions have increased dramatically in the past decade, enhancing the emergency care incidents by almost 400%, innovative strategies to overcome peanut allergies are certainly needed. More research will help to determine if a vaccine for peanut allergies will become a reality that can help patients.
For those who receive or are thinking of receiving allergy shots for allergies such as those related to grass pollen, ragweed, or dust mites, there is an alternative that has been deemed effective by the American College of Asthma, Allergy, and Immunology. Unlike allergy shots, or subcutaneous immunotherapy, which involves injections, the alternative, called sublingual immunotherapy, or SLIT, involves simply placing a tablet under the tongue and letting it dissolve.
Immunotherapy is a strategy that involves exposing an allergy patient to tiny doses of the substance to which the patient is allergic, and increasing the exposure dose over time. This approach works in treating allergies because it trains the patient’s immune system to understand that the allergen is not dangerous. Indeed, allergies represent the immune system’s mistaken interpretation of
Whereas subcutaneous immunotherapy, which means immunotherapy under the skin, can be painful for patients and cause anxiety, sublingual immunotherapy – i.e. immunotherapy under the tongue – is non-invasive and a preferable alternative for many patients, particularly children and those afraid of needles.
In Europe, SLIT has been used for decades for a number of allergens. In the U.S. the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved SLIT for some – but not all – allergens. Currently, patients have been able to get SLIT for some grass pollens and ragweed for years, and more recently, patients have been able to get SLIT for dust mites. Oralair is the SLIT that works against five distinct grass pollens, and Grastek works for certain grass and ragweed allergies. The newest SLIT treatment for dust mites, called Odactra, became available a couple of months ago.
Age is still one limitation with SLIT approaches. For instance, patients must be 5 years old to start Grastek, 10 years old to start Oralair, and 18 to stair Odactra. For patients who are particularly young, sublingual immunotherapy may work better as drops rather than tablets. Cat dander is one allergy for which doctors recommend sublingual drops more than tablets.
Some people should not use sublingual immunotherapy, however. These people include those with uncontrollable asthma, immune disorders, and eosinophilic esophagitis disorder. The risks of serious allergic reactions with SLIT, however, are far lower than those with allergy shots. However, it is generally recommended that those who use SLIT as their form of therapy also carry an EpiPen in case of emergencies.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have put out their National Health Interview Survey, and it has shown a surprising result: healthcare workers are more likely than those in any other industry to suffer from allergies. It is often assumed that exposure to the environmental agents associated with agriculture, manufacturing, and especially mining could sensitize workers and create allergic conditions like asthma in those working in those industries. The CDC found that healthcare workers have asthma more frequently than those in these other industries was, therefore, an unexpected finding for many healthcare stakeholders.
According to the CDC data, healthcare and social assistance workers experienced asthma at a rate of 8.8%, whereas 6.1 % of those working in mining, 5.4% of those working in manufacturing, and 5.2% of those working in agriculture experience asthma. The report highlighted that asthma currently occurs most in workers between the age of 18 and 24, women, non-Hispanic African Americans, those with more than a high school education, and those who live below the poverty line.
The report, published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report also put forth that healthcare workers were more likely than workers in other industries to not only be diagnosed with asthma but to experience asthma attacks and to end up in the emergency room as a result of their asthma. The reasons for the heightened risk for asthma among healthcare workers may have to do with some of the sterilization procedures with which they are involved and the associated environmental stimuli, including powdered latex gloves and disinfecting products. Aerolized medications may too play a role.
This revelation of the prevalence of asthma among healthcare workers is a first step toward determining how to protect these workers and their health. More research is needed to understand exactly why employees in the healthcare field are more likely to have asthma, and as these reasons are clarified, targeted research strategies should enable us to find ways to intervene such that we can reduce this risk among the large healthcare worker population.
A new experimental treatment for children with peanut allergies, called AR101, has given way to promising Phase 3 clinical trial results. A biopharmaceutical company from California, called Aimmune Therapeutics, led the study into how safe and effective this new treatment is. They collected data from 554 patients, aged 4 to 17, who suffer from peanut allergies. The study was conducted across 69 sites within the United States.
The researchers split participants into a control group and an experimental group, with the former group receiving a placebo treatment, and the latter grouping receiving AR101 The investigation was performed as a double-blind study, meaning that neither the participants nor their health care providers were aware of whether the participant had received peanut powder or placebo. The logic for using this double-blind approach is to ensure that there is no bias in evaluating peanut tolerance at the end of the trial.
By the end of the yearlong clinical trial, more than two thirds of the group that received AR101 could tolerate the equivalent of about two peanuts, or 600 mg of peanut protein powder, without experiencing an allergic reaction. By comparison, only 4% of those who had received only the placebo intervention could tolerate a 600 mg dose of peanut protein powder a year after the trial began.
The majority of those from the experimental group that could handle a 600 mg dose of peanut protein after a year of treatment could also handle a 1000 mg dose. Whereas only 2.4% of the placebo group could tolerate 1000-mg of peanut protein at the end of the trial, 50.3% of the experimental group could handle this larger dose without incident.
In addition to the promising results of AR101, with respect to the treatment’s ability to protect children against severe allergic reactions to relatively small doses of peanut protein, the study also showed promising results in terms of safety. Only a small proportion of study participants experienced serious adverse side effects.
Some interventions for peanut allergies aim to aggressively reverse allergies or allergic reactions so that patients can safely eat peanuts like those without allergies. The rationale behind AR101, however, was to simply protect children from accidental peanut exposures. Given that 2.5% of children are now allergic to peanuts, up 21% since 2010, treatments like AR101 that may help prevent severe reactions including anaphylaxis in the unfortunate event of peanut exposure are critical for protecting children and for providing peace of mind to those with peanut allergies, as well as their loved ones.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has just published results of a study into the prevalence of asthma amongst children in the United States. According to their findings, asthma attack rates have improved a bit in recent years, and fewer children are being admitted to the hospital for asthma attacks. In addition, children have missed fewer days of school in recent years due to asthma attacks.
According to the CDC, that 61.7% of children with asthma experienced attacks in 2001, where only 53.7% of asthmatic children experienced these attacks in 2016. Perhaps more impressive is the drop in hospital admissions. In 2003, 10% of children with asthma were admitted to the hospital, but in 2013, this figure had dropped to only 5%.
The overall rate of asthma amongst children has not gone down in recent years, so there has been some speculation as to the reduction in attacks and hospital admissions. Experts have pointed to the fact that more children now follow an asthma action plan, meaning that more children are now trained to recognize symptoms of asthma and respond to them in a timely way. These action plans can prevent full-blown asthma attacks and the need for hospitalization.
In addition to the improvement in asthma attacks and hospitalization, the CDC report also provided other data on childhood asthma in the United States. For instance, in 2016, asthma attacks were most common among children who were 4 years old or younger. Additionally, asthma among children of Mexican heritage increased from 5.1% in 2001 to 6.5% in 2016.
Based on the results of the study, it is important to ensure that asthmatic children understand asthma and their own triggers and symptoms. Having an action plan in place can be helpful not only in preventing major asthma attacks and visits to the hospital, but it can also reduce anxiety about these types of events. With the flu being particularly severe this year, it is also critical to remember that the flu can exacerbate asthma symptoms. Being prepared to deal with the sudden onset of asthma symptoms can protect children from the physical and emotional stress of an attack.
Researchers at Aarhus University have made a serendipitous discovery that could help an enormous amount of patients who suffer from allergies. Though they were searching for a way to improve existing allergy treatments, their data pointed to a new way to approach allergy treatment. Their results, published in Nature Communications, demonstrate how an antibody can be used to block the immune reaction that leads to allergy symptoms.
Normally, when patients with allergies are exposed to allergens, they produce large amounts of IgE molecules. These molecules travel through the blood and attach to immune system cells called effector cells. When this attachment occurs, histamine production is triggered, which leads to the allergic reaction that the patient experiences.
What scientists have found is that there is an antibody that can interfere with this binding of IgE to two types of effector cells (called CD23 and FceRI). Not only does the antibody block the IgE molecules from attaching to these effector cells, but it can also remove IgE molecules from effectors cells after they have become bound to them.
Certain features of this new antibody make it interesting to researchers and clinicians. For instance, it is much smaller than other antibodies that are currently used in allergy medications. It is also very stable and may be able to be inhaled or swallowed rather than injected into patients. In addition to being more convenient and less painful, this feature of the antibody may also make it less expensive than it otherwise could be.
While the research is still in the preclinical stages, the results are promising. If this antibody can prevent IgE-effector cell attachment, then the amount of IgE the body produces will not be indicative of the subsequent allergic reaction. More research will have to be conducted to determine if and how this antibody can be used to prevent allergic reactions in patients.
Many of us tend to get sick during the cold months, but if allergy symptoms arise, we are likely to blame a cold. Though rare, some people are actually allergic to the cold itself, suffering from what is known as cold urticaria. For comparison, about 1 out of every 10 people is allergic to pets, while only about 1 in 100,000 are allergic to the cold.
Cold allergies have been reported in children as young as 5 years old, but the age of onset tends to be during the adolescent years. The allergies to the cold can arise out of nowhere or may be triggered after an infection or illness. An allergy to the cold can be inherited, but inheriting this allergy is extremely rare, occurring in about 1 out of every 1 million cases of cold allergy. Many of those with cold allergies suffer from their allergies for about 5 years and then the allergy disappears.
As with many other allergies, cold allergies are diagnosed through a skin test. The patient will have an ice cube set on his or her forearm to see if changing the temperature of the skin causes an allergic reaction. The course of a cold allergy is much like that of other allergies and includes swelling, hives, and itchiness. The treatment is also the same. Patients avoid the allergen, use antihistamines, and in severe cases, deploy an EpiPen.
In extreme cases, cold can induce anaphylaxis in those who are allergic to it. Luckily for those who are allergic to the cold, allergy onset usually requires that the temperature of skin drop dramatically. By bundling up, those with cold allergies can therefore still enjoy the outdoors on cold days.
What is more dangerous for those with cold allergies than going outdoors in cold weather is swimming in cold water or eating cold foods. While swimming in cold water, cold allergy sufferers may become covered in hives –or, in severe cases, suffer from anaphylactic shock. It is particularly dangerous to suffer a severe cold allergy reaction in the water because it increases the chances of drowning. Similarly, those who have an extreme reaction eaten frozen foods or drinks may end up choking.
While cold allergies are rare, it is important to recognize when the allergy exists so that precautions can be taken to prevent symptoms or serious reactions. Those who suffer from cold allergies can generally follow the same advice as other allergy sufferers do and even rely on the same medications.
Stress adversely affects our health in a number of ways. Research has long shown that there is some relationship between stress and asthma. Much of the scientific thinking has focused on the idea that stress likely exacerbates asthma symptoms.
However, a $2.5 million long-term study at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, lead by Dr. William Busse, is exploring the idea that asthma may also exacerbate stress. As their researchers have noted, it is indeed stressful to feel as though you cannot breathe. To gain a better understanding of the association between asthma and stress, the scientists are looking both at how asthma affects the brain and at how stress affects the lungs.
First, they are inducing asthmatic events in patients and then analyzing the communication from the lungs to the brain using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology. By investigating which parts of the brain are activated in response to asthma symptoms, the researchers may be able to tell whether the experience of asthma leads to a stress response.
Observing how stress may impact asthma is a more challenging task. To do so, Dr. Busse and his colleagues are placing people under stress, then inducing an asthma attack and monitoring the details of that attack.
While the study has not been completed yet, Dr. Busse suspects that what the data will show is that there is two-way communication between the lungs and the brain and that there is therefore a feedback loop that can lead to both more stress and more asthma symptoms. In other words, increased stress may exacerbate asthma symptoms, which may in turn enhance stress, and the cycle continues.
An interesting idea that Dr. Busse has is that the negative nature of the feedback between the lungs and the brain could be combatted through both medication and non-medication strategies. For instance, understanding the specific pathways and molecules involved in lung-brain communication can help with the development of medications that block problematic signaling. However, he also suggests that techniques like mindfulness and meditation may offer promising ways to modify the circuits involved in this communication.
Regardless of the specific findings of this large study, it is likely that the insights will help us better understand the link between asthma and stress. They should also inform the way we approach this link so that people under stress are less likely to experience worsening asthma symptoms and those with bad asthma are able to mitigate any potential stress responses.
A study published in Nature Communications at the end of 2017 has identified 6 genes involved with children’s allergic reactions to peanuts. Unlike many other studies, which compare the physiology of those with allergies to those without allergies, this investigation involved comparisons between when an individual was experiencing an allergic reaction and when that individual was not experiencing such a reaction. The advantage of this strategy was that the researchers, located at Mount Sinai in New York, could observe specific changes in gene expression that occurred during allergic reactions to peanuts.
The experiment was performed on 19 children with peanut allergies. On one day, the children ingested incremental amounts of peanuts every 20 minutes until they ingested 1.044 grams of peanuts or until an allergic reaction occurred. On another day, children did the same thing but ingested oat powder, which should not cause an allergic reaction. During the process, children were unaware of whether they were eating peanuts or oat powder.
To monitor changes in gene expression, the researchers drew blood samples from the children before they ingested each product, during their ingestion, and again afterwards. They then performed a technique known as RNA sequencing that allowed them to see which genes and which cells became selectively activated during allergic reactions. They found that certain genes because active only during allergic reactions and could potentially explain the inflammation that occurs during allergic reactions. The findings from the 19 children were consistent with data from another 21 subjects.
This important study not only helps to reveal how peanut allergies work but could also lead to target candidates for therapeutics. It is unclear whether other food allergies – and allergies to other types of substances – may involve similar genes and mechanisms, but future research should help clarify these issues. With more knowledge of the details of different allergies, treatment options should improve.
It is not news that diet during pregnancy is important for the health of the growing fetus. Asthma is one condition that has been shown to occur more frequently in the offspring of those who do not eat well during pregnancy or are obese. It is perhaps therefore not surprising that a new study, performed by researchers at Harvard University and published in the Annals of American Thoracic Society, has found that the amount of sugar ingested during pregnancy could be predictive of a child’s likelihood of developing asthma.
To evaluate the impact of maternal sugar intake on a child’s risk for asthma, the researchers investigated data from 1068 Massachusetts mothers and then collected information on the diets and asthma status of their children when they were 3 and 7 years old. The researchers controlled for several non-dietary factors that could potentially lead to differences in the health of offspring, including the sex of the child, the mother’s education level, age, and smoking habits, and the body mass index and race of the mother and child.
When researchers focused on the impact of sugar, they found that the mothers who consumed the highest amounts of fructose or sugary beverages during the 1st and 2nd trimesters of their pregnancy were more likely to have children who developed asthma by the age of 7 than those who consumed the lowest amounts of sugar. They also found that children who ingested higher amounts of fructose or sugary beverages early in life were also more likely to develop asthma than those who consumed less of these sugary substances.
While these new data implicate sugar in the development of asthma, they do not provide evidence that sugar intake causes asthma. They also do not provide information on the mechanism by which sugar may lead to asthma. However, given that sugar has increasingly been shown to lead to health problems, including obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes, lowering sugar intake may be a good idea, regardless of its effects on the development of asthma or other allergic conditions. Many juice and soda beverages have large quantities of sugar, and so cutting these drinks can go a long way in reducing sugar consumption.
Cluster immunotherapy is a strategy for treating allergies and allergic diseases. Like other types of immunotherapy, it is generally performed after skin tests have shown what allergies a patient has and involves a series of shots.
What makes cluster immunotherapy different from conventional therapies is the speed with which the shots are given - and how quickly a patient gets to what is known as their maintenance dose. The maintenance dose is the dose that proves most effective for treating the individual patient's allergy. Because patients get to the maintenance dose faster with cluster immunotherapy, they also often feel better faster with this approach.
While conventional immunotherapy tends to involve months of shots before the maintenance dose is reached, cluster immunotherapy can be done in a matter of hours. Some patients worry that getting several injections in a single day can increase their risk of allergic reactions. As with all immunotherapies, it is important to monitor your reaction to the therapy and to have access to the right medicine or care when undergoing cluster immunotherapy. However, it is also important to note that several studies have shown that cluster immunotherapy is a safe way to treat populations of allergy patients.
A study performed earlier this year in patients with allergic rhinitis demonstrated that cluster immunotherapy reduced the time it took for patients to get to their maintenance dose by more than 60%. The patients, who were studied over a 6 week period, experienced significant improvement in their symptoms. Critically, they did not suffer any worse systemic adverse reactions than patients who underwent conventional immunotherapy. The researchers therefore concluded that cluster immunotherapy is both safe and effective for treating certain patients.
There is ongoing research to help us understand all the advantages of cluster immunotherapy and any potential disadvantages. The research should also help to clarify which patients can benefit the most from cluster immunotherapy.
A new study conducted by scientists at the Copenhagen Studies on Asthma in Childhood Research Center in Denmark has revealed a way that cats may help protect newborns from developing asthma. According to the investigation, cats may also prevent babies from developing bronchitis and pneumonia. The researchers did not find, however, that dogs have the same impact.
Research on how pets affect the likelihood of developing allergies and asthma has produced mixed data. Some disorders appear to be more likely for those who grow up with certain pets, whereas others appear to be less likely.
A specific gene, called TT, has been implicated in the relationship between pets and the development of allergies. People with a certain genetic variant of TT have been shown to be twice as likely to develop conditions referred to as atopy conditions, which include asthma.
In this recent Danish study, the scientists studied 377 children from Denmark whose mothers had a history of asthma. The researchers analyzed the children's genes, as well as allergens collected from their beds. About 1/3 of the children carried the TT genetic variant that should have increased their risk for developing asthma.
Of these children who were genetically more susceptible to asthma, those who had a cat at home were less likely to actually develop asthma. The study did not clarify why having a cat reduces the likelihood of developing asthma, but scientists speculate that something about exposure to the cat prevents the TT gene in these children from becoming activated. Future research will likely help us understand the circumstances in which pets can protect children against allergic diseases and how exactly those pets confer their health benefits.
Adults with asthma are at increased risk for pneumococcal diseases, which are caused by the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae. These diseases include things like pneumonia, meningitis, and sepsis. Luckily, there are pneumococcal vaccines that can be delivered via simple injections under the skin or into the muscle that can potentially prevent these diseases.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all adults between the ages of 19 and 64 who suffer from asthma get the pneumococcal vaccine and that those older than 65 get 2 such vaccines. Nonetheless, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine at the end of September, only about 50% of those with work-related asthma get the vaccine.
The study aimed to determine what percentage of people with different types of asthma actually get the pneumococcal vaccine as recommended. They were particularly interested in the difference between those with work-related asthma and those whose asthma occur independent of their work. The researchers analyzed national data from the years 2012 and 2013 and found that while overall, adults with asthma got the vaccine at a rate of about 50%. However, the likelihood of getting the vaccine varied depending on various factors. For instance, compared to those with work-related asthma, patients with asthma that was not work-related were less likely to get the pneumococcal vaccine. About 35% of those with asthma that was not work-related got the vaccine in 2012-2013.
The lowest rate of pneumococcal vaccination in work-related asthma patients was amongst Hispanics. Only about 36% of Hispanics with work-related asthma had gotten the vaccine. Uninsured patients and younger adults (ages 18-44) with work-related asthma also had low rates of vaccination, with only about 39% and 42% getting vaccinated, respectively.
Physicians and researchers are eager to get those with asthma to get the pneumococcal vaccine. The vaccination is important not only because pneumococcal diseases can be fatal (about 5-7% of the 900,000 Americans who get pneumococcal pneumonia each year die from it), but also because pneumococcal pneumonia can exacerbate asthma. Those with asthma are also at a higher risk for other complications related to pneumococcal disease.
Research like the current study that helps to reveal the actual uptake of the pneumococcal vaccine can be used to help physicians recognize the need to educate their asthma patients on the importance of the vaccine. Future studies may also be able to help clarify the best ways to increase compliance with the vaccine recommendation.
Though children with asthma are usually advised to avoid allergens that could exacerbate their symptoms, new research published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology suggests that exposure to allergens associated with pets - and even pests - can actually prevent the development of asthma.
Dr. James Gern from the University of Wisconsin-Madison led this new study as part of an ongoing Urban Environment and Childhood Asthma study. For this particular study, Dr. Gern and his team studied 560 children living in New York City, Boston, St. Louis, and Baltimore, beginning in 2005. The children who were studied were considered at risk for developing asthma because each child had at least one parent with asthma or allergies.
When the children were aged 3 months, 2 years, and 3 years, researchers sampled allergens from their homes. They also tracked the children to determine their incidence of asthma over the first 7 years of the children's lives. They found that the higher the concentration of cockroach, mouse, and cat allergens present in these children's homes, the lower the children's risk of developing asthma by the age of 7.
Though dog allergens alone did not seem to confer any preventative benefit, when dog allergens were combined with these other allergens, the risk for developing asthma was even lower than when just cockroach, mouse, and cat allergens were present. Cockroaches appeared to be the most powerful in staving off the development of asthma.
These findings are consistent with other data suggesting that exposure to allergens can prevent the development of asthma and allergies by training the immune system to recognize these substances as harmless. These results also point to the possibility of new preventative measures for asthma. For instance, if specific allergens or bacteria can be clearly and repeatedly shown to reduce asthma risk, this knowledge can be used in the development of interventions to reduce the chances that children get the disease.
A new study, published by an Australian team in Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, has shown that an immune-based therapy has successfully allowed children who are allergic to peanuts eat peanuts for four years without experiencing reactions. The rationale for immune-based therapies is to expose children to small doses of peanut to treat their immune systems to learn that the foreign substance is not harmful and therefore to stop reacting to it as if it were threatening.
The children studied in the new research report had been enrolled in a previous study where they received a combination of probiotics and small peanut doses. Probiotics were used as a way to enable the gut to have a higher tolerance for peanuts. In this initial study, 82% of the children who received this combination therapy experienced a significant reduction in their allergic reactions to peanuts.
The new study is a follow-up study that tracks the children from the initial study four years later. According to the researchers, 67% of the children who had received the combination therapy are still comfortable eating peanuts. When tested for peanut allergy, fewer children who had received the combination therapy demonstrated allergic symptoms compared to the children who did not receive this therapy.
One criticism of this set of studies is that the scientists only compared the outcome of the allergen/probiotic combination therapy to the outcomes associated with no therapy at all. The limitation of this design is that it limits the researchers’ ability to evaluate the impact of the probiotics.
While a number of studies have shown that exposing children to allergens can improve their tolerance for that allergen. However, the evidence for the impact of probiotics on allergies is not nearly as robust. Had the researchers compared the effects of the combination therapy to those from the immune therapy alone, it would be clearer whether probiotics are beneficial in peanut allergies. Treating one group with only probiotics may make the relationship between probiotics and peanut allergies even more clear. Future research can help to clarify the importance of probiotics in fighting peanut allergies and how and why combining probiotics with immune-based therapies may enhance the benefits of immune-based therapies.
A new review published in The Lancet has revealed that older people who suffer from asthma are five times more likely to die from the condition than their younger counterparts. Unfortunately, the rate of asthma in older adults is climbing. Though the specific prevalence is debated, up to 9% of all older adults may suffer from the condition.
Why can asthma be tougher on older adults than younger adults?
For one, breathing becomes more difficult with age, even in the absence of asthma. The elasticity of the lungs diminishes as we get older, and the muscles of our respiratory systems weaken. These changes exacerbate the breathing problems that normally occur with asthma.
Another issue is that the strength of our immunes systems can decrease with age. The relevant impact is that older adults can be more likely to suffer infections that can trigger asthma attacks. Similarly, the body’s response to inflammation changes with age, so steroids that may have worked for someone with asthma in the past may stop working as they age.
According to the authors of the review, about half of older adults with asthma are not properly diagnosed, which complicates treatment and the prevention of complications. Both physicians and the patients themselves are apparently likely to blame symptoms of asthma on other conditions. For instance, people often blame their shortness of breath on being overweight or out of shape rather than considering that the symptoms represent an asthmatic condition.
Changes in cognition and motor skills are also major contributors to the heightened effects of asthma in older adults. Managing asthma requires patients to remember to take medications regularly and to deploy those medications correctly. Asthma inhalers are notoriously misused, with patients failing to get the intended doses. As patients get older and their understanding of how to use inhalers diminishes – along with their physical ability to coordinate the different aspects of using the inhalers – the chances increase that they are not getting enough medicine.
In addition to bringing more awareness to the realities of growing older with asthma and how to avoid unnecessary complications, researchers will likely aim to develop strategies to help overcome some of the challenges older adults face when dealing with asthma. Therapies that are aimed at circumventing the specific risks associated with treating asthma in the elderly could help to minimize the additional burden that asthma brings to older adults.
Though penicillin allergy is the most commonly diagnosed drug allergy, there has been mounting evidence in recent years that many people who believe they are allergic to penicillin are in fact not allergic to it. True penicillin allergy is actually quite rare.
A study that was just published in the journal Pediatrics investigated a potential penicillin allergy in 100 children between the ages of 4 and 18. The parents of all 100 children reported that their child had a penicillin allergy, but each child was deemed “low-risk” because the symptoms that led to a diagnosis were common symptoms seen in children, such as a rash. The researchers tested all 100 children for a penicillin allergy, and all 100 children tested negative.
Why are so many children who are not allergic to penicillin diagnosed as such? The answer is that penicillin allergies are often diagnosed based on clinical symptoms rather than through allergy tests. In other words, physicians will often stop a course of penicillin if a rash, itching, or vomiting occurs because these symptoms could indicate an allergy.
Because subsequent exposures to penicillin in the case of allergy can be more dangerous, the physicians will often then avoid using these antibiotics. The children (and their parents) therefore continue assuming they have a penicillin allergy without being tested.
The biggest problem with thinking that you’re allergic to penicillin when you’re not is that you will not be given penicillin or other widely used antibiotics like amoxicillin. If you get sick with an infection that would normally be treated with these antibiotics, you will instead be given something that is more likely to have adverse side effects and is also more likely to be much more expensive.
As it becomes clearer that penicillin allergy has been over-diagnosed, some physicians and researchers are recommending that penicillin allergy tests be conducted to confirm a penicillin allergy. Confirmation may be especially important in the low-risk cases, where the clinical symptoms that led to diagnosis are relatively harmless symptoms that are likely to arise from common viruses.
A study, recently published in European Respiratory Journal, investigated the potential link between pregnant women’s consumption of certain types of sugars and the development of allergy and asthma in their children. Specifically, the scientists were interested in “free sugars,” which do not include sugars found in whole fruits and vegetables.
The researchers evaluated families with children born in 1991 and 1992 and did not find any correlation between sugar intake and eczema or hay fever. They also failed to find a significant relationship between sugar consumption and asthma generally.
The researchers did, however, find that higher sugar consumption was significantly associated with allergy and the allergic form of asthma. Specifically, the 20% of mothers who ate the most sugar during pregnancy were 38% more likely to have children who developed allergies or allergic asthma than the 20% of mothers who ate the least sugar. The highest sugar intake was 82-345 grams per day, which is equivalent to 16-69 teaspoons per day. In contrast, the lowest sugar intake was less than 34 grams (or 7 teaspoons) per day.
The identified correlation between sugar intake and allergy and allergic asthma does not mean that eating more sugar during pregnancy causes allergies or allergic asthma in children. Further research needs to be conducted to determine if these findings can be replicated.
If the findings appear robust, the next step will be to determine whether sugar can actually increase the risk for allergic conditions, or if some other factor may impact both sugar intake and allergy development. Interestingly, sugar intake in children has not been shown to impact the chance of developing allergies or allergic asthma.
Researchers hypothesizing any mechanisms that could explain a causal link have pointed to lung development and suggested that high levels of fructose could cause inflammation in the developing lungs. However, this idea has not yet been tested so there are no data to confirm or deny this concept.
Doctors and scientists have long suspected a connection between asthma and diabetes, as it has appeared that people with one of these conditions tend to be at higher risk for the other. What researchers have not been clear on is the strength of the relationship and whether asthma makes it more likely to develop diabetes or vice versa.
Scientists at the National Institute for Health and Welfare in Finland have now helped to clarify the relationship between type-1 diabetes and asthma. Rather than a simple link where the presence of one condition increases the likelihood of the other, the link between diabetes and asthma is apparently more complicated. Whereas having asthma increased the risk for type-1 diabetes by about 41% in the subjects studied, having type-1 diabetes actually decreased the risk of developing asthma. The magnitude of the reduced risk for asthma was about 18%.
The researchers investigated health records from 171,138 children who were born between 1981 and 2008. From this sample, which represented 10% of the Finnish population born in that time frame, the researchers identified 80,871 children who were diagnosed with asthma and 8,939 with type-1diabetes by the age of 16. Both conditions were present in 602 of these children.
The purchase of insulin and anti-asthmatic drugs helped researchers determine children’s diagnoses. To perform their analysis, the researchers divided children into groups based on their birth years and looked at 4 age groups: 0-3, 4-7 8-11, and 12-16. The relationships between diabetes and asthma were revealed in all age groups.
While the study provided novel insights into the link between diabetes and asthma, it also contained some limitations. For one, not all the diagnoses were confirmed. Second, there was limited information on any other conditions that the patients may have had. Similarly, the researchers did not have information on when the patients developed their conditions.
The lead author of the study, Dr. Johanna Metsala, recently presented these findings at the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology Congress. The discussion at the meeting provided more insights into how scientists can further clarify the link between diabetes and asthma in the future. Researchers are particularly interested in determining whether food allergies may also be linked to diabetes.
When most people think of food allergies, they think of things like nuts, eggs, or shellfish. However, red meat has been causing more allergic reactions in recent years, and the culprit is a sugar molecule found in red meat called galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose, or alpha-gal. The picture is complicated by the fact that people do not tend to be naturally allergic to the sugar molecule found in red meat but instead become allergic to it after experiencing a tick bite.
The tick that leads to the red meat allergy has been linked to the lone star tick, which has a white spot in the shape of Texas on its back and is generally found in the southeastern United States. Dr. Thomas Platts-Mills, a lead allergy research from the University of Virginia helped to identify this critical link after he himself developed the meat allergy.
When Platts-Mills heard that an effective cancer drug, called cetuximab, was causing allergy-like side effects in 10x more people living in the southeastern United States than those living elsewhere, he decided to partner with Bristol-Myers Squibb, the drug’s distributor, to conduct blood tests. He found that all the cancer patients experiencing this reaction had pre-existing antibodies to the alpha-gal sugar. The sugar was indeed found in abundance in cetuximab.
What was causing people living in the southeastern United States to develop this sensitivity to alpha-gal sugar? The area where these cancer patients lived mapped on to the same geographical area where Rocky Mountain spotted fever, a disease carried by the lone star tick, occurs. With this clue, Platts-Mils screened more patients with meat allergies, and his studies revealed that 80% of these patients had reported tick bites. The tick bites resulted in 20x more antibodies to the alpha-gal sugar.
While Platts-Mills’ work helped to reveal the role of tick bites in red meat allergies and the allergic reaction to cetuximab, the mechanism by which the bite confers this sensitivity to the alpha-gal sugar is not yet understood. Some researchers have suggested that a virus or bacteria carried in the tick’s saliva may cause the change in the immune system of those who have been bitten.
A former member of Platts-Mills’ team at the University of Virginia is now conducted research on mice at the University of North Carolina to improve our understanding of how ticks cause these allergies. Now that more red meat allergies are being reported outside the southeastern United States – namely in Duluth, Minnesota, the eastern tip of Long Island, and Hanover, New Hampshire, one important question researchers are interested in is whether the lone star tick has traveled to new parts of the country, or if instead ticks of other species now cause the red meat allergies. Research that improves our understanding of how exactly ticks enable these allergies will hopefully enable us to develop effective interventions to reduce the suffering that accompanies these allergies.
Women are twice as likely to develop asthma after puberty than are men, and they are also more likely to suffer from more severe forms of the disorder. More girls develop asthma than boys during childhood as well. However, doctors and researchers have not had a good idea as to why this difference in susceptibility to asthma exists. However, an international team of scientists recently published an article in the Journal of Experimental Medicine that helps to answer this question.
Given that a major distinguishing factor between men and women is the distribution of hormones in their bodies, the researchers had speculated that hormones may play a role in the different levels of resistance to asthma seen in men versus women. It turns out that they were right.
Traditionally, patients have been tested for allergies through blood draws or skin tests. Skin tests come in a variety of forms. A skin prick test, also known as a puncture or scratch test, is usually performed on the forearm of adults and on the upper back of children. The test can scan for 40 different allergies by looking for an immediate reaction to certain substances. While the test uses needles, the needles barely penetrate the skin, so the test does not tend to be painful. It can, however, be itchy. Patients must wait approximately 15 minutes after the pricks for the clinician to observe the skin and determine which, if any, allergies the patient has.
Skin injection tests, often performed for suspected venom or penicillin allergies involve using a needle to inject some of the allergen into the skin. Like the skin prick test, skin injection tests require about 15 minutes of waiting before the status of the allergy can be determined.
Albuterol inhalers are commonly used to treat patients with asthma and allergy. Specifically, albuterol combats bronchospasms that can be induced by exercise or that occur as a result of reversible obstructive airway disease. Bronchospasms occur when certain cells of the immune system, known as mast cells or basophils, release substances that cause the muscles of the walls of the bronchioles in the airway to constrict. When this constriction occurs, breathing can become difficult. Albuterol works by relaxing these muscles, thereby enhances airflow to the lungs.
Albuterol inhalers have been being recalled in large numbers in the United States. As with any recall, this action has spurred a lot of questions as to what was wrong with the recalled inhalers. Luckily, there does not seem to be anything about the inhalers that would actively cause harm to users. Instead, the inhalers contained a defect that could result in less of the drug being delivered upon use than intended.
In 2014, researchers released results from a study on a new skin patch called Viaskin, aimed at treating peanut allergies. Now, more results have been released. The idea behind the patch was that by exposing people to small amounts of the protein in peanuts that causes allergic reactions, the patch could train the immune system to get used to the protein and recognize it as innocuous. The hope was that this approach – known as epicutaneous immunotherapy - would reduce or eliminate peanut allergy by desensitizing people to peanuts.
The creators of the patch suggest that the patch should be worn for three years, but the initial study was conducted over the course of just one year. This new set of results come from an extension of the original trial and involved patients using a higher dose patch for two years.
It has long been recognized that patients who suffer from asthma may struggle to use their inhalers properly. There are a number of mistakes that people can make when using inhalers. Research has shown that patients tend to make at least one of these mistakes 70% to 90% of the time. When these mistakes occur, the amount of the drug to reach the lungs is significantly reduced. Incorrect use can lead to only 7% of the recommended dose actually getting to the lungs.
A study was recently conducted to determine how frequently and why those with asthma incorrectly use their inhalers. The results helped to clarify the specific causes and implications for inhaler mistakes. To conduct their study, the scientists placed sensors on the inhalers of 23 patients, which allowed them to keep track of details about how the inhalers were used, including how they were shaken, activated, and breathed from. The patients included in the study were diagnosed with either asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Last year, Mylan the company that produces the EpiPen, received a lot of backlash for its increasing prices that reportedly preventing access for a number of people who require the medicine. The EpiPen is an injectable device that delivers epinephrine to those experiencing a severe allergic reaction. In the case of anaphylaxis, when the airways are closing, epinephrine is often life saving. Consumers and healthcare providers were therefore outraged when the price of EpiPens skyrocketed to $608.61 for a pack of 2 pens in 2016.
Penicillin refers to a group of safe and inexpensive antibiotics that are frequently prescribed for an array of bacterial infections. Unfortunately, some people have demonstrated allergies to penicillin. These allergies occur when the immune system reacts to the penicillin. These reactions often lead to hives or rashes. In extreme cases, anaphylaxis can occur, which is life-threatening. Though a number of people believe they suffer from a penicillin allergy, there are recent suggestions that a number of these people do not in fact have this allergy.
There are a number of known risk factors for asthma. Pollution, dust, as well as certain chemicals increase the risk for developing asthma. Smoking, allergies, viral infections, and obesity are also linked with the chronic disease. Additionally, genetics are thought to play a role. Recently, research has also pointed to depression and anxiety as contributing factors for asthma. Insomnia is perhaps the newest risk factor to gain attention from the scientific community. Researchers in Norway have published findings supporting the correlation between insomnia and asthma in the European Respiratory Journal.
A new analysis, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, compiled data from 8 previous studies that investigated a total of 1.6 million patients and found that women who were prescribed heartburn drugs during pregnancy were more likely to have children who went to a doctor for symptoms associated with asthma. The study does not provide evidence for why the association may exist and does not suggest a causal relationship between the heartburn drugs and childhood asthma.
It is common to experience heartburn while pregnant, especially later on in pregnancy during the second and third trimesters. The condition occurs when acid from the stomach leaks into the esophagus. The reason it occurs more frequently during pregnancy is not completely understood, but it is generally thought that the growing womb may be the culprit because by pushing on the stomach, it could increase pressure and lead to acid leakage. It has also been suggested that the hormone changes that accompany pregnancy could contribute to the increased frequency of heartburn.
The few scientific studies that have investigated a potential link between cured meats (including sausage, salami, and ham) and asthma have not found any relationship. A new study published in the academic journal Thorax, however, claims to have identified a negative impact of cured meats on asthma symptoms. These results are consistent with some other research projects that have found that processed meats adversely affect the health of the lungs. Indeed, cured meats have been linked to a number of health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
The study analyzed adult asthma patients, based on their diet, their asthma symptoms, and their weight. Researchers first collected information on the patients between 2003 and 2007 and then followed-up to see how their asthma symptoms had changed between 2011 and 2013. The scientists found that each week, the average patient consumed 2.5 servings of cured meat. Researchers divvied the patients up into three groups for their analysis: low consumers (who ate one or fewer servings of cured meat per week), medium consumers (who ate one to four servings of cured meat each week), and high consumers (who ate more than four servings of cured meat each week).
It is often claimed that food allergies have been on the rise for years. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 4 million children currently suffer from food allergies, the most common of which are to peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, milk, wheat, soy, fish, and crustacean shellfish. However, a new report published by the National Academies of Science demonstrates that there is a lot of confusion over the prevalence of food allergies, and experts are not sure if the frequency of food allergies is actually changing.
It's frequently asserted that the food allergies have been rising for several years. As stated by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 4 million kids now suffer with food allergies, the most frequent of which are to peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, milk, wheat, fish, poultry, and crustacean shellfish. But a new report released by the National Academies of Science shows that there's a whole lot of confusion within the incidence of food allergies, and experts aren't positive whether the frequency of food allergies is really shifting.
Since 2006, labels on foods that contain the major food allergens, which are peanuts, milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, wheat, soy, and tree nuts, must make it clear that these allergens are present. As a result of the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA), these products must be labeled in the ingredients list, or else, the label must say: “may contain” followed by the name of the specific allergen. In Canada, sesame, mustard, and mollusks must also be included. The specific type of allergen, such as shrimp, must also be listed.
With the dramatic increase of peanut allergy incidence in children in recent years, pediatricians had begun to recommend that parents avoid feeding their young babies peanuts until their immune systems matured. Taking care of new babies can be stressful enough without adding the possibility of a potentially life threatening allergic reaction to the mix. However, scientific research has helped doctors realize that it may actually be a bad idea to wait to feed babies peanuts because without peanut exposure, the immune system may be more likely to mistake peanuts for harmful substances. On the other hand, if babies consume peanuts, or the proteins contained in peanuts, from a young age, their immune systems may learn to recognize those elements as harmless and therefore not react upon subsequent exposure.
Researchers at the University of South Carolina recently published a study in Allergy, Asthma, and Clinical Immunology, suggesting that exposing children to antibiotics very early in life may increase their risk for developing allergies. The researchers looked at over 7000 patients through Medicaid data from 2007 to 2009. Specifically, they compared 1504 kids that had food allergies with 5995 that did not and found that those that did suffer from food allergies were more likely to have taken antibiotics before their first birthday. The analysis showed that being prescribed with antibiotics in the first year made people 1.21 times more likely to eventually suffer from a food allergy.
EpiPens could be purchased for less than $50 in the United States in 2007. The injection devices deliver epinephrine through the thigh to combat anaphylaxis, a severe, potentially fatal allergic reaction that closes the airways. For those with allergies or with kids with allergies, having an EpiPen on hand has been a recommended precaution that has helped to reduce anxiety associated with allergies and the potential for serious reactions.
A study released in July in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine claimed that a group of asthma patients that researchers studied in Pennsylvania were more likely to have asthma attacks if they lived near fracking developments. The researchers looked at data from over 35,000 patients that attended a particular clinic in Pennsylvania from 2005 to 2012. Fracking, which is a method for collecting natural gas, is a politically contentious exercise that has been deemed dangerous on a number of counts. Many of these have been debunked, but the issue remains controversial.
In this particular study, run by a group at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, researchers found that asthma patients’ risk for experiencing an asthma attack increased four fold if their residence was in close proximity to where fracking took place. Further, the group looked to see if this association between asthma attacks and fracking depended on the seriousness of a patient’s disease. They therefore classified asthma into mild, moderate, and severe when analyzing their data.
A new study has reported that children who suck their thumbs or bite their nails may be at a lower risk for developing allergies than those kids who keep their fingers out of their mouths. This finding is quite intuitive when you consider the hygiene hypothesis. According to the hypothesis, allergies have been occurring in higher frequency in recent decades because children are raised in cleaner environments than ever before. Because of their lack of exposure to germs, their immune systems do not learn to recognize innocuous environment material and therefore overreacts to it later in life, misinterpreting the material for something life threatening.
It is perhaps not surprising that allergies and allergic diseases can have a negative impact on quality of life. Patients with these conditions can be chronically nagged with symptoms that in addition to causing discomfort, can also minimize productivity and prevent the ability to engage in certain activities. However, studies are starting to show that allergies may be specifically linked to depression.
The Utah Department of Health has just released the details of a study into a link between depression and the allergic condition, asthma. According to the Utah Asthma Program, more than one third of the adults with asthma living in Utah also have depression. Given that this rate of depression is higher than it is for the general population, researchers believe that there may be an association between asthma and depression.
More than 300 million people suffer from asthma. Though many people with the disease are able to control symptoms and disease progression, many others struggle to manage the disease. For some, the struggle is simply in figuring out the best drugs and doses to use. Others, though, seem unable to control their asthma with any of the drugs that are currently available on the market.
The London-based pharmaceutical company, AstraZeneca has developed a new drug for asthma that is showing promising clinical results for those who have been unable to control their asthma with other drugs. The company just released data on phase III studies on this respiratory drug candidate, named benralizumab. The newest studies aimed to evaluate whether the drug is effective in minimizing asthma in patients, and whether the drug is safe.
Though it is not necessarily intuitive, there is a significant amount of research that shows that the time of year when you are born can impact a number of factors in your life, including your eventual height, whether you develop diseases, and how long you live. In recent years, there has been speculation that your birth season may predict your chances of developing allergic diseases such as asthma.
In 2010, following observations that children born in the fall or winter suffer from allergic symptoms like wheezing and eczema at higher rates than those born in spring or winter, scientists in Finland studied a group of almost 6000 children whose ages ranged from 3 to 9. Of the 6000 children, 1000 had been tested for food allergies by the age of 4. When the researchers dove deeper into the details of the allergies of these children, they found that birth season predicted a number of allergic factors. For instance, 11% of children whose 11th week of gestation was during April or May suffered from food allergies during their baby or toddler years. Far fewer children whose 11th week of gestation occurred at other times had food allergies at this young age.
Asthma has been reported as the primary cause of chronic disease and disability in children. Because asthma can be life threatening, effective drugs and inhalers that are used to combat asthma symptoms can be critical to survival. However, some doctors are arguing that asthma is being over-diagnosed in children and that too many children are now using drugs whose effects should not be taken lightly.
Though the drugs used to treat asthma can save the life of someone enduring an asthma attack, they also have non-trivial side effects. The drugs can suppress growth and also suppress immune activity in the airways, which can increase the risk for respiratory infections. In addition, the drugs tend to be costly. According to some doctors, wheezing, which is a hallmark of asthma, is not always accurately identified. It is important that doctors recognize normal respiration in children if they are to distinguish asthma from other conditions or from healthy respiratory activity.
The significant rise in peanut allergies in recent years has puzzled physicians and scientists. In the past decade, peanut allergies have quadrupled in the United States. The scientific community has started to suspect that doctors’ recommendations to parents, regarding when to feed their children peanuts, could be partly to blame for the rise in peanut allergy incidence.
Doctors used to tell parents to avoid feeding their children foods that are often associated with allergies, such as peanuts, eggs, and fish, until their children were about three years old. The idea behind this protocol was that young immune systems may not yet be ready to deal with these potentially problematic foods. In 2008, however, these recommendations changed when the American Academy of Pediatrics decided that delaying the introduction of these foods may in fact increase the chances that allergies develop.
There are a number of reasons why babies may not be able to receive sufficient nutrition from breast milk. To combat the obstacle and ensure that babies are offered proper nutrition easily and early in life, formula was created. Given that breast milk is lacking in certain nutrients, formula provided an opportunity to provide babies with these added nutrients. Indeed, breastfed babies are generally required to take supplements such as vitamin D and iron. In addition, formula creators can formulate the product to address any number of health issues, aiming to provide as many health benefits as possible.
Scientists from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have discovered a genetic mutation that causes for a very rare type of allergy - an allergy to vibration. The team of scientists, who were specifically housed at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) published their findings in the New England Journal of Medicine on February 3rd.
Allergy to vibration, known as vibratory urticaria, causes sufferers to break out in itchy hives or skin rashes on areas of the body that endure vibration. Though the allergy tends to lead to only mild symptoms, for those with this particular allergy, everyday activities, such as exercising, riding in motor vehicles, hand clapping, and using towels can pose serious inconveniences. For some, the allergy to vibration can lead to symptoms unrelated to the skin, such as headaches, blurry vision, and fatigue.
Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, has long been linked to allergies. Studies have shown that children who live farther from the equator are more likely to develop allergies and suffer higher rates of hospital admissions due to allergic reactions. From November through February, it is thought that people in the north (at a latitude above 35°) cannot synthesize vitamin D because they are not sufficiently exposed to sun.
Children and adolescents with lower levels of vitamin D in their blood are more sensitive to allergens than those with higher vitamin D levels. In 2012, a study published in the Journal of Pediatrics demonstrated that infants with vitamin D deficiency are at higher risk for allergies and eczema than those with sufficient levels of the vitamin. Further, the severity of allergy in infants was shown to be linked to the severity of vitamin D deficiency.
Scientific research has shown that having allergies makes it more likely that people will suffer certain anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and panic attacks. According to a new study published in Pediatrics, children who suffer from allergies starting at a young age are at an increased risk for anxiety and depression. Specifically, seasonal allergies seem to be the culprit for this group of people with a higher likelihood for anxiety and depression, and the more allergies these people have, the higher their risk. For those allergic children who suffered anxiety or depression, the degree of anxiety or depression varied from very mild to disorders that required treatment. However, allergic rhinitis, which involves allergy symptoms that specifically affect the nose, was specifically linked to the highest scores of anxiety and depression.
Autism and autism spectrum disorder involve impairments in communication and social interaction and are thought to result from abnormal brain development. This type of abnormal brain development is most likely due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. The rate of autism diagnosis has increased significantly since 1980, as has the diagnosis of asthma. Nonetheless, because autism is primarily thought to be a manifestation of abnormalities in the brain, its potential link to asthma is not intuitive.
Though the medical community has not acknowledged it as a legitimate allergy, people have begun to claim that they suffer from allergies to Wi-Fi. Over the years, a number of health risks associated with our smart devices have been revealed – including insomnia, neck pain, and brain changes. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity Syndrome (EHS) is a disorder that involves a number of non-specific symptoms that affect those who are exposed to electromagnetic fields. The apparent existence of EHS may be confused with an allergy for Wi-Fi, and EHS has itself come under scrutiny as a legitimate disorder.
Though sesame allergies affect less than 1% of the United States’ population, somewhere between 300,000 and 500,000 people in the U.S. are allergic to sesame. According to allergists, many more people are afflicted in the U.S. today than a decade or two ago. The most common symptom associated with sesame allergy is hives, with hives, stomach problems, and respiratory problems also occurring quite frequently.
The allergy appears to now be as serious and as frequent to other common allergies, like those to tree nuts. Tree nuts include walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts, almonds, pistachios, and Brazil nuts. Further, recent research has shown that those allergic to tree nuts are at a higher risk for also suffering from a sesame allergy than those who are not allergic to tree nuts. One study found that 70% of those who were allergic to sesame were allergic to tree nuts, and 65% were allergic to peanuts. A study on children conducted in Boston determined that kids with tree nuts allergies were three times more likely to be allergic to sesame seeds as well.
Many people are allergic to insect stings, which can be associated with a number of insects including honeybees, sweatbees, bumblebees, paper wasps, white-faced hornets, yellow hornets, yellow jackets, harvester ants, fire ants, and jack jumper ants. Less often, allergies can also occur to proteins found in the saliva of other insects, including mosquitos, horseflies, and kissing bugs.
Stinging insect allergy can occur in response to insect venom and has the potential to be fatal if it causes anaphylaxis and disrupts the breathing process. This type of reaction occurs in approximately 0.4-0.8% of children and 3% of adults, leading to about 40 annual deaths in the United States. However, when it does not cause anaphylaxis, stinging insect allergy is not and manifests in non-respiratory ways.
There are a number of cells of the immune system that are involved in allergic reactions. Relatively recently, platelets were added to the list of known immune cells that contribute to the body’s response to allergens and to underlie aspects of asthma. Platelets are the smallest cells that travel within the blood and are shaped like plates when they are inactive. One microliter of blood usually contains somewhere between 150,000 and 450,000 platelets.
Platelets are traditionally viewed as functioning to stop blood flow, which they do by clumping together to form blood clots. Given this function, it is important that we have enough platelets so that we are not at risk for losing too much blood should we cut ourselves. However, too many platelets can cause cardiovascular issues. Given their role in thrombosis, or blood clotting, platelets are also often referred to as thrombocytes.
The incidence of allergies and asthma has been on the rise in recent years. Western countries have seen more of a rise than other countries. However, even in Asia and Africa, the allergies and asthma occur with higher frequency in urban areas than in rural ones.
While many medical efforts have focused on increasing access and use of epinephrine, a powerful, often life-saving allergy medication, to ethnic, racial, and socioeconomic groups that have been shown to suffer from lack of access to this important drug, recent efforts have also emphasized the importance of research that clarifies differences in allergy incidence among different racial and ethnic groups. Indeed, it seems that those of different races and ethnicities may be prone to different allergies or allergy severities. Given the distinct genetic makeup of those of different such demographics, this insight is perhaps not that surprising. Racial differences in disorders related to allergy, such as asthma and atopic dermatitis, also make the idea that there are racial differences in allergy susceptibility quite intuitive.
People who work with laboratory animals are susceptible to developing allergies to the specimens to which they are regularly subjected, a condition termed laboratory animal allergy, or LAA. Lung function and changes in the immune system have been identified in a number of such workers, and it is believed that between about 1 in 3 to 1 in 5 of those who regularly work with animals will develop these allergies within 2 years. However, females appear to be more vulnerable to developing these animal allergies than are males. People with higher levels of immunoglobulin E, an antibody involved in fighting off parasites, are also more likely to develop LAA. From an environmental standpoint, it seems that the more hours that workers tend to spend with laboratory animals, the more likely they are to develop allergies. The most common symptom is rhinitis, which involves inflammation of the nose, but asthma also often develops in these workers.
People often wonder if their loving pets are susceptible to the same allergies that they are. Though our pets are less likely to suffer from the same symptoms that we do when we experience allergies, they are in fact vulnerable to allergies. Allergies occur in pets for the same reason they occur in us – their immune systems recognize certain substances as harmful, even though they may not actually be threatening. Pets usually do not show symptoms of allergies until they are between one and three years old, and when it comes to dogs, females are more likely to display allergy symptoms than males. Certain dog breeds are also more susceptible to allergies than others. Breeds with flat faces, such as pugs, bulldogs, and Boston terriers are more likely to suffer from allergies than breeds with longer snouts. Retrievers and setters are also particularly vulnerable to allergies.
It is common for people to be allergic to pollen, and to know that pollen irritates them. What is less well recognized is that there are a number of types of pollen, which peak at different times in the year and cause distinct symptoms for allergy sufferers. Having a precise understanding of the causes of one’s allergies can significantly increase the ability to manage symptoms, so learning the differences among allergens from various plants can be extremely useful for allergy sufferers.
A first step for allergy sufferers is to be tested for allergies to try to pinpoint which particular allergens irritate them. Once those allergens are identified, people can learn about when and where those allergens are likely to strike and take the necessary precautions to avoid exposure to those allergens. Below is some information on when different pollen types are likely to impact you. Because even allergy tests cannot always determine your particular allergies, paying attention to when you find yourself suffering from allergies can help you figure out what your immune system may be reacting to.
Though people often feel that their allergies get worse every year, it is not highly likely that seasonal allergies get worse over time. It is true, however, that the severity of allergies varies from year to year. Predicting how bad an allergy season will be is difficult because individual weather events can have a significant impact on allergens. The weather, for instance, largely contributes to how long and how strong an allergy season is. Hot, dry summers and harsh, cold winters often inhibit the growth of tree and flower buds in, which can reduce symptoms for those who suffer from hay fever, or allergies to grass. Further, just because an allergy season may start earlier does not mean it may end earlier. Weather can produce a longer allergy season.
Parents and Peanut Allergies
With the growing incidence of peanut allergies and the consequent deaths that are often reported on the news, many parents instinctively avoid feeding their children peanuts, assuming that the nuts may cause an adverse and scary reaction in their kids. Even doctors themselves have been known to urge parents to refrain from exposing their babies to peanuts. In 2000, the American Academy of Pediatrics specifically advised parents to avoid feeding their babies peanuts if they were at risk for allergies.
Groundbreaking research conducted over the past five years and finally published paints a new picture of how this intuitive reaction to the growing issue of peanut allergies may actually exacerbate the problem. A study published earlier this year in one of the most respected medical journals, the New England Journal of Medicine reported that exposing babies to peanut products reduces the risk of peanut allergy by 70-86% in those infants at high risk for developing the allergy. The researchers conducting the study, led by Dr. Gideon Lack, presented their findings at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology (AAAI) conference in Houston in February.
Peanut Allergy Incidence
Around 5.4 million people suffer from peanut allergies in the United States and Europe alone. Among those with peanut allergies are millions of children, who, along with their parents, have to deal with the anxiety that comes with these allergies on a daily basis. Peanuts are the biggest culprits for food allergies, with approximately 8% of American children being diagnosed with the allergy. As a society, we are impacted not only by the death that can result from severe allergies and anaphylactic reactions but also by the reduced quality of life associated with dealing with such allergies. The psychological impact of allergies on patients and their families can lead to severe anxiety and antisocial behavior.
When we think of treating allergies, we often think of pills, inhalers, nasal drops, and EpiPens. However, preventing allergies can be one of the most effective ways to deal with them. Because there are no cures or vaccines currently available for allergies, prevention generally requires controlling one’s environment. For instance, those with food allergies are advised to avoid exposure to problematic foods. Those allergic to indoor and outdoor allergens, such as pollen and dust mites, can also reduce the impact of those allergens on their bodies by employing measures to decrease the levels of those allergens to which they are exposed.
Before puberty, boys tend to suffer from allergies and asthma more frequently than do girls. However, after puberty, these conditions are more common in women than in men. Women who suffer from acute asthma, which is related to allergies, are 60% more likely than men to require emergency intervention or hospitalization. Further, women suffer more frequent and more severe anaphylaxis, which is a potentially fatal severe allergic reaction that can inhibit a patient’s ability to breathe and lead to stroke. Researchers have wondered for years why the sex difference in tendency to experience anaphylaxis exists, and recent research points to a potential role of estrogen.
We often associate weather with our allergy symptoms because certain seasons bring with them specific allergens that trigger our sneezing, runny noses, and wheezing. Often, the causes for our allergies are agents that thrive in certain weather conditions. For instance, mold grows in the winter, poison ivy is rampant in the summer, and pollen fills the air in the spring and fall. However, sometimes it is the weather itself that makes us suffer form allergies.
Specifically, changes in temperature and humidity can cause allergy symptoms like sneezing and congestion, which occur due to swelling that results from changes in the nose’s membranes. These types of symptoms are generally referred to as non-allergic rhinitis. Other weather specific conditions, however, are allergic reactions rather than non-allergic reactions. For instance, cold urticaria is an actual allergic reaction to cold weather.
Several allergy drugs are on the market. There are over-the-counter medications and prescription medications that minimize specific symptoms associated with allergic reactions. EpiPens are generally prescribed for those with severe allergies because they can reverse the life threatening anaphylactic reaction that can occur in patients with allergies. EpiPens contain epinephrine, which can stop the vasodilation that occurs during a severe allergic reaction, thereby saving the patient. Though the sequence of events that occurs during an allergic reaction is generally well understood by scientists and physicians, we have not developed an actual cure for allergies or asthma. Though there are a number of effective interventions that prevent or reduce the symptoms associated with allergies, treating the underlying cause for allergies has eluded scientists. Nonetheless, several promising lines of research provide hope that we can more effectively treat allergies in the future and possibly even cure them.
Anaphylaxis is an extremely severe allergic reaction, where the immune system releases histamine, basophils, mast cells, and other substances. The excessive reaction of the immune system to an allergen causes tightening of airways and difficulty breathing. Anaphylaxis can be fatal if not properly treated. Once it is clear that a patient is experiencing anaphylaxis, epinephrine is generally administered. People with extreme allergies often carry EpiPens, which facilitate a simple injection of epinephrine. EpiPens often save lives because there is a limited amount of time from the onset of anaphylaxis and death. For those who cannot get to the emergency room fast enough, an EpiPen makes all the difference.
For millions of people allergic to eggs, exposure to these agents can lead to severe and dangerous reactions. Children are much more likely than adults to suffer from egg allergies, and eggs are the second most common food that causes allergy in children, behind cow’s milk. In the United States, 1.5-3.2 percent of children are allergic to eggs, many of which are also allergic to milk. About half of those children diagnosed with egg allergy will outgrow the allergy by the age of 17. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology has reported that of those children who do outgrow their egg allergy, approximately 45% outgrow it by the age of 5. The highest levels of antibodies against egg proteins were observed in these children around the age of 1.
These days, we hear a lot about kids developing allergies at a higher rate than in previous generations. Often, these allergies are quite serious. A common example is the peanut allergy that can be fatal if it leads to anaphylaxis, and the patient is not treated quickly enough. Given the growing number of allergies and associated anaphylaxis, many parents worry about how they can protect their children from these serious conditions.
A growing number of latex allergies are being recognized and diagnosed. It is believed that about 3 million people in the United States are allergic to latex. Those allergic to latex react to a milky fluid found in latex that is produced by rubber trees. As with other allergies, the immune system perceives the allergen (i.e. the milky fluid found in latex) as harmful. Many latex allergies are mild and may simply cause some slight irritation to the skin, termed irritant dermatitis. However, the allergy can also be much more serious, leading to hives, asthma, rhino-conjunctivitis, and of particularly concern, anaphylaxis. Because anaphylaxis is potentially fatal, increasing our understanding of latex allergy and how it may lead to this serious condition is important. Further, it is critical that people recognize risk factors for latex allergy so that they can minimize the likelihood of developing this allergy and manage the allergy safely when it does occur.
Omega-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.
Who 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.
Why Its Important to Know the Difference
Colds 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.
Donation Facilitates Important Allergy Research
Almost 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Peanut allergies have frustrated researchers for a long time but they may have finally found a solution to the problem. Recently, researchers from the Oxford University found possibly conclusive evidence regarding the cause of peanut allergies. The results may surprise you.
People consume peanuts fried, boiled, raw or dry-roasted and they are found in a number of commercial products. Unfortunately, allergies to peanuts are quite common and symptoms can be severe. So, why do some people have food allergies to peanuts and some do not? Researchers now believe that the processing process is the key.
It has been known for a long time that Western countries have higher incidents of peanut allergies than people in East Asia. Genetic backgrounds may play a small part in whether people have allergies. However, researchers know that people in East Asia have a preference for fried, boiled or raw peanuts and Western people seem to prefer dry-roasted peanuts.
For unknown reasons, allergies are on the rise in classrooms. One in 13 children is likely to develop allergies and need a pediatric allergist. As a parent, you need to know the symptoms of allergies and how to protect children from serious illness.
Symptoms from allergies can appear in just a few minutes or take several hours before they are noticed. Mild symptoms could include difficulty breathing, hives, itching or coughing. Dangerous symptoms may include wheezing, chest pain, trouble swallowing or losing consciousness.
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.
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.
If you suffer from seasonal allergies, you know just what a struggle it can be to overcome. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 other allergens 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.
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.
If you suffer from allergies, you are probably curious about what exactly causes your specific problems. Allergy testing can help you to get to the bottom of the cause of your symptoms. Whether you get red, itchy eyes when you go outside during springtime, or you can't pet a cat without become extremely itchy, these thorough examinations can help you discover what exactly is causing your issue. Depending on the nature of your reaction, a different examination may be more appropriate for your needs. There are two main types of examinations that can be conducted.
For people who suffer from allergies, the home can be an unexpected source of irritants. In almost every room in your home, there are allergens lurking that can make you miserable. Here are 4 tips for combatting them in your home:
1. Is there a fireplace in your house? If your fireplace is made of wood, it can be a source of displeasures. The wood you’re using may be growing mold. Be sure to check any wood before bringing it into your house.
Scientists have studied that those who suffer from allergies have bodies that produce a specific antibody in response to its exposure to substances that are harmless in most cases; these substances can include peanuts, pollen, cat and dog dander, and more. Scientists also discovered that symptoms tend to change as people age.
As many understand today, the explanation is relatively simple. When someone is very young, between birth and the age of 18, they tend to remain in the same environment and therefore, around the same substances. Parents or other adults probably serve them the same types of food and use the same laundry detergent and cleaning supplies for most of their life, so far.
Drastic climate changes have been known to affect the environment in a great way. Most simply notice hotter summers and colder winters, but many haven’t considered the effect extreme climate changes have on allergies.
For an allergy sufferer, there is an immense amount of evidence that shows how climate change can complicate their comfortable lifestyle. Many doctors this season have reported an increased number of patients who were sneezing or complaining about itchy eyes. This can be attributed to an increase of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. Higher levels of CO2 is always great for plants because it makes them grow quicker, producing more. For instance, it can help a rose bush grow more flowers. However, the increased growth in plants causes them to produce more pollen and other allergens. As a direct result, the increase of pollen in the air will lead to more people suffering from allergies and asthma.
You may think the misery of the “polar vortex” winter is over, but sadly, it can still have an effect in months to come for allergy sufferers this allergy season. It seems as if the extreme cold temperatures should have killed everything, but that, unfortunately, is not the case.
Since we had extreme cold temperatures for much longer than our average winter months, it shortened the typical growing season for all of the spring plants that produce allergens. So now, the new spring temperatures, that we are all so excited for, have caused the pollen producing plants to come into bloom at once! This can compound problems for allergy sufferers. The growing season would usually take place over several weeks, but this spring and summer, it is taking place all at the exact same time.
We know you have choices when it comes to picking an allergist., and we think there are a lot of reasons to pick Premier Allergy & Asthma. First, we have eight convenient locations in the Columbus metro region. This makes appointments for your whole family easier, whether you are coming from school, work, or home.
We can offer faster results with our rush immunotherapy solution. Instead of waiting weeks or months for full relief, you can ask your allergist to speed up the process. And typically, they can do it!
Have you been suffering from seasonal allergies for months or years, but were afraid to get tested for fear of needles or discomfort? What if we told you that we could give you a skin test without needles and get you results in just 20 minutes? Yes, you read that right. Our office provides allergy testing that requires no needles.
Our procedure uses small plastic devices containing a small amount of the allergen we test for. The allergy test can check for many different allergies including pet dander, local grasses and trees, molds, and pollen. Our allergist will place the plastic devices on the back and do a small scratch of the skin. The skin is then labeled so we know which allergen was tested in that spot. Then, you just have to hang out and wait about 20 minutes to see which allergens produce a welt. A welt is just a small bump similar to a mosquito bite. It may be itchy, but most patients do not experience pain from the procedure.
Food allergies are typically caused by eight common ingredients: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish. These foods can initiate annoying skin reactions or life-threatening breathing problems. Because of the danger posed to those who are allergic to these foods, companies are required to display allergy warnings on their ingredients list.
Milk is the most common allergy among American children. Typically, 80% outgrow the allergy by the time they are six years old. Those allergic to cow’s milk must also avoid butter, yogurt, sour cream, cottage cheese, cheese, and any other products made from cow’s milk.
Ragweed sufferers may now be able to find relief in the form of a one-a-day pill. Ragweed allergy is commonly referred to as hay fever, or by the medical term seasonal allergic rhinitis. Sufferers often experience stuffy noses, itchy, watery eyes, and congestion, sometimes so severe that they seek relief from an allergist. Midwest residents are particularly susceptible to the condition, due to the amount of pollen the environment produces. However, until now, there was no medical remedy specifically targeted at this particular malady.
Immunotherapy is a medical term for the treatment of disease by inducing, enhancing, or suppressing an immune response. Not surprisingly, this type of therapy is often used for treating allergies. While other allergy treatments only target the symptoms of allergic reactions, immunotherapy is the only treatment available that actually reduces the body’s sensitivity to all allergens. Typically, a patient receives shots over the course of six months to a year, helping to suppress the unwanted effects of pollen and other allergy triggers. However, immunotherapy offers a chance to completely change the way your body responds to these triggers.
With rush immunotherapy, a patient will receive multiple shots throughout several hours to several days, achieving a maintenance dose in a very short period of time. After the initial period of treatment, a person is able to come into the allergist’s office typically only once a week for the next few weeks, and then even less often after that. People undergoing rush immunotherapy also achieve benefits from allergy shots rapidly, typically within a few weeks.
If you suffer from seasonal allergies, you are not alone. Millions of Americans deal with the runny noses, itchy, watery eyes, and congestion due to an allergic response to pollen and other foreign bodies in the air. An allergic reaction is simply a negative response by your body’s immune system to an often harmless substance. Pollen, for instance, is in no way harmful to humans, yet millions of people each year are victims of its effects. But why do are so many people allergic to common substances such as these? An allergy doctor would say genetics are often to blame.
People who suffer from allergies understand the fear of becoming violently ill, or even facing a life-threatening situation due to minute traces of a particular substance. These substances are often otherwise harmless, or even prevalent food items. Peanuts, for example, are a particularly common food allergy trigger, afflicting millions of Americans both young and old. However, there may be a cure on the horizon.
A doctor-led research team at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in the U.K. conducted an experimental study recently that showed a small dose of the potentially lethal substance can actually save lives. Similar to a vaccine, the report posted in the Lancet medical journal stated 99 allergic children were administered a small dose of peanut powder. After a six month period of treatment, 84 to 91 percent of the children tested in the study could tolerate 800mg, or the equivalent of about five peanuts. This amount could be a potentially lethal dose to severely allergic patients, and could signal huge strides in the fight against food allergies.
Hives are itchy, red bumps that are a common condition for those who suffer from allergies. Those bumps may be quite swollen and can vary in size from being under an inch to as large as a few inches in diameter. They can appear on just about any area of the skin and may last for just a few minutes, several hours, or even days in length. Triggers include all kinds of allergens, such as medicines, foods, exposure to certain elements, or even genetics. However, many people confuse different types of skin disorders with hives. It can be nearly impossible to self diagnose these skin disorders because they are all characterized by raised bumps on the skin or a red coloring.
As anyone who deals with life-threatening allergies knows, allergy education is a critical part of the school curriculum. Not only do children need to learn about this serious issue, including the ability to identify it, seek help, and even treat it, but so do the adults around them. Teachers, other school staff, and parents should take it upon themselves to learn what to do when confronted by or exposed to this life-threatening issue.
Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that affects the whole body. It can be triggered by many types of allergens, including insect stings or bites, food, and certain medications. Some of the most common food allergens for kids include shellfish, peanuts, milk, tree nuts, wheat, and soy. Latex is another common trigger for anaphylactic reactions.
Natural allergy remedies are a real source of relief for sufferers of all ages. Fortunately, since they don’t involve chemicals or drugs of any kind, most of them can be used on everyone from young children to senior citizens. If you’re looking for an allergy remedy that you can try yourself at home, consider this list.
1) Saline Nasal Pot Also known as a Neti pot, this handheld device is used to flush the nasal passages. First, you fill it with a saline solution that can be purchased pre-made or can simply be mixed at home with just boiled water and non-iodized salt. Tilt your head over a sink and pour it in through one side of the nose. The water will come out the other side, flushing out pollen, allergens, and other buildup.
Asthma sufferers are on the rise: recent statistics show that nearly 17 million people are affected by it in the United States, an increase of 2.5 million in the last 5 years. Because there is still no cure, sufferers of the disease are often in search of non-traditional or homeopathic remedies that may reduce or alleviate its symptoms.
There are two types of sufferers; allergic and non-allergic, allergic asthma sufferers are the more common type. This means an attack is most frequently brought on by a “trigger,” such as dust mites, pollen, or even a food allergen such as strawberries. However, with a non-allergic condition, an attack can be sparked by exercise, strong perfume, dry air, and even stressful situations. While inhalers and medications are available to reduce and manage attacks, the best way to prevent them is to eliminate as many triggers as possible from your life.
Weather allergies are common from coast to coast, regardless of the exact climate or temperature around you. Whether it’s wet or dry, cold or hot, or anywhere in the middle, plenty of people find that they have an itchy nose, runny eyes, or show other allergy symptoms at one point or another.
If you suffer from weather allergies, don’t feel helpless. There are things you can do proactively to gain better control of the issue and get relief from the symptoms. Consider if any of these common issues describes your situation:
Many people associate allergies with the spring and summer months, when the pollen count is high and they’re spending a great deal of time outside. For pollen allergy sufferers, winter generally means a reprieve from the symptoms that plague them the rest of the year. However, many allergies actually get worse in winter because the allergens are located indoors. Common winter allergies include mold, dust mites, and animal dander.
Anyone who has ever had an allergic reaction knows how uncomfortable and even dangerous it can be to come in contact with certain allergy triggers. Whether you react adversely to pollen, mold, pet dander, insect stings, dust mites, or certain foods and medications, there are measures you can take to avoid offending substances. The key is to know what to do before you encounter these harmful elements.
Unlike seasonal allergies caused by pollen in the atmosphere, dust mites are allergy triggers that one can encounter at almost any time of the year. Symptoms linked to exposure include eye irritation, sneezing, and nasal congestion. In order to avoid such reactions, a person may want to have antihistamines and nasal decongestants on hand. It is also possible to keep these microscopic insects at bay by putting dust mite covers over mattresses and keeping all areas of your home free of dust. Carpets, couches, and curtains are places where dust mites frequently flourish.
Environmental allergies can occur at any time of the year, especially in warmer climates. Symptoms vary from person to person, but the most common things to expect include a runny nose, watery eyes, stuffy nose, and sneezing. So what causes outdoor allergies? Well, you might be surprised that they usually stem from just two things: pollen and mold.
The pollen that plants produce is transported in different ways. Brightly colored flowers depend on bees and other insects to transport the pollen so it can be fertilized. In general, these plants don’t cause issues for allergy sufferers. Other plants, however, produce a powder-like pollen that is spread by the wind. This type of pollen is likely to cause allergic reactions.
Some individuals suffer from a wheat sensitivity that is not related to celiac disease. New research suggests that this non-celiac wheat sensitivity may be an allergy. While it was formerly considered an innate immune system response, that opinion is slowly shifting.
So what exactly is non-celiac wheat sensitivity and what types of symptoms does it cause? Essentially, this term applies to individuals who cannot tolerate wheat in their diets, yet lack the intestinal damage and antibodies present in people who have celiac disease. Symptoms can include headaches, joint pain, and numbness in the legs, arms, or fingers. In other words, it affects many major organs, including the nervous system, gastrointestinal tract, and skin. Symptoms disappear completely when wheat is excluded from the diet, making it a treatable condition.
If you suffer from food allergies during the holidays, you’re not alone. The holiday season means lots of eating out, whether at restaurants, parties, or friends’ houses. For many people, all that eating out can cause a few issues. There’s no reason to limit your social schedule or suffer through allergic reactions though. With just a little planning and preparation, you can keep those reactions to a minimum and enjoy this wonderful time of year with family and friends. Follow these allergy tips so you can have joyful and allergy-free festivities:
First, don’t give in to temptation. Holiday parties are chock full of goodies that you’ll be tempted to try. If you know–or suspect–that a dish has something you’re allergic to in it, skip over it. There is always plenty of food available, so find another dish to try that won’t leave you suffering later on.
Many people have false information about allergies. They may experience different symptoms and link them to allergies when in reality there is a different culprit to blame. Some of the common myths below have been passed down for many years, but experts know there is no truth to them.
Myth: I’m allergic to foods that make me feel unwell.
Many people who think they are allergic to a certain type of food actually experience a kind of food intolerance, sensitivity, or even food poisoning. The only way to get an accurate diagnosis is to visit an allergy specialist and undergo testing.
Pregnancy can be an exciting and overwhelming time in a woman’s life. Women who are pregnant know to expect many changes to their body. During these changes, it is important to know how to manage existing conditions or diseases, such as asthma. Fortunately, there are some easy-to-implement changes that women can make at home that may help control asthma during pregnancy.
First, it’s important to recognize that asthma and allergies are often closely related. Because of this, it’s important to free the home of things that trigger allergic reactions. The most common triggers include things like pollen, mold, pet dander, or dust mites. Items that promote the growth or presence of these irritants should be taken care of appropriately. Pillows, mattresses, and box springs should be sealed up in dust mite-proof casings. Bedding should be washed weekly in 130-degree water. Mold growth can be limited by monitoring home humidity levels and addressing problem areas, such as damp basements or dirty air filters.
Most children consider Halloween one of their favorite holidays. They get to dress up in costumes, go trick-or-treating with all their friends, and of course the candy. However, if your child has a food allergy, Halloween can be tricky. Fortunately, if you follow a few simple tips, your child will be able to have a safe and fun Halloween without consuming any foods that may trigger an allergic reaction.
Penicillin and the family of antibiotics that fall under its umbrella are some of the most commonly prescribed options available in the United States. Many parents, however, may have had an adverse reaction to one of these medications themselves or may have witnessed it in their children, causing them to believe a serious allergy is present. Did you know an estimated 1 in 10 Americans claims to be allergic to Penicillin? Continuing research suggests that these numbers are not accurate, and that far fewer people suffer from a serious Penicillin allergy than is reported.
With the school year just beginning, many moms are busy preparing their children to meet the challenges of the classroom. If your child suffers from allergies or asthma, you’re probably concerned about attendance throughout the school year as well as keeping him or her safe from attacks. It’s been estimated that about one out of every ten school-aged children has asthma, and more than 10 million school days are missed each year due to this condition. Rest assured however, there are precautions you can take to ensure he or she has the highest attendance possible, but this requires careful planning and communication with an allergy doctor.
As many of us know, it can be very frustrating to experience a summer cold. From the first sign of a stuffy nose, many of us head straight to the local pharmacy to pick up some over-the-counter medication to manage our symptoms. It never occurs to us that what we could be experiencing is actually allergy symptoms.
In recent studies, researchers have found that many adults will experience allergic reactions to common triggers, such as grass pollens and mold spores, for the first time in the summer. The symptoms these allergies present are very much like those of the common cold, so it’s important to learn about the differences between the two. Before speaking with an allergy doctor, there are a few signs to help you identify exactly what’s going on.
Do you suffer from inherited allergies? Soon, an Ohio allergist will be able to help you identify your allergen risks using genetics. Thanks to collaboration between 23andMe, a personal genetics company, and the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, our knowledge of genetic allergies is expanding.
The combined work of 23andMe and the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children yielded a new study that draws more genetic traits for allergies. They have identified 16 new genetic associations to common allergens such as pollen, dust-mites, and pet dander. In addition to these findings, they have also identified that eight genetic variations previously thought to be associated with asthma are correct.
Alergy season is starting to get worse for many allergy sufferers due to changes in the climate. According to Grist, with more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, both the production of pollen and plant growth have increased, leading to more frustration and problems for those who are allergic. Dr. Shah, an Ohio allergy doctor, recommends coming in for testing if you are experiencing allergic reactions.
Are your allergies in full swing? You’re not alone! Dr. Shah talks with WBNS TV in Columbus about why you may be experiencing more intense allergies than normal this year. See the full segment below. This April and May, many people are suffering with allergies and asthma. Typical symptoms include itchy eyes, nasal congestion, and sneezing. Yet you may be suffering from other symptoms such as headaches and an itchy throat.
Right now, we are in the middle of tree pollen season, and that will be closely followed by grass related allergies. Heavy bouts of rain can provide some relief by temporarily clearing out the air. Allergies are not just for the summer time though. Many people experience allergic reactions in the winter due to dust mites, pet dander and dust.
When your body is allergic to a foreign object such as dust, pollen, or a certain food substance, it produces a sneeze in an attempt to get rid of the irritant. A sneeze can project out of the body at up to 100 miles per hour and up to 5 feet away from the source. Certain allergens are more widespread during different times of year, which can cause you to sneeze more in the warmer months. Tree and grass pollen are most prevalent during the spring, while weed pollen is common in the summer and fall. But, allergens aren’t the only cause of sneezing. Exercising, plucking your eyebrows, and bright sunlight are all potential triggers. Interestingly enough, you have to be awake to produce a sneeze, as it is impossible to do so while sleeping.
Spring gets the reputation of being the most beautiful time of the year because of all the flowers in bloom, but for allergy suffers, this isn’t what they think of when they realize that spring has sprung. The same bee pollen that makes the flowers grow also makes your nose runny and stuffy. Allergy sufferers experience anything from headaches to coughing fits. And with the combination of a wet winter and alternating warm and cold spells, tree pollen has been bursting forth a bit early this year.
Ohio allergist Dr. Patel appeared on Fox 28 news to discuss the upcoming allergy season. Experts predict this year to be the worst allergy season to date. There are a few reasons why you can expect your allergies to begin acting up:
- The long and wet winter set up perfect conditions for mold growth–a common allergen.
- With global warming, we are now experiencing more carbon dioxide in the air. This helps to nourish the plants, triggering more pollen production.
The urge to spend time outdoors is never greater than in the early days of spring. The days start to get longer, the snow melts away, the sun comes out and gardens bloom. But when some of us pull off our winter boots and stop to smell the roses, we’re hit with the reality of our spring: runny noses, sneezing, coughing, and itchy, watery eyes.
Cabot Rea: If you have allergies, the worst season could be on our doorstep.
Colleen Marshall: Central Ohio is a hotspot for seasonal allergies. In For Your Health tonight, Ellie Merritt is going to tell us what to expect. Ellie, I hear it’s going to be a bad one.
Ellie: Yes, allergy season comes on fast and furious and while it is chilly outside today, doctors are expecting seasonal allergies to be earlier this year. And you’re right, Colleen, much more intense. Blame the weather. Get ready for the sneezing.
Runny noses and sniffles aren’t exactly rare this time of year; colds and the flu run rampant among adults and children alike. After the twentieth sneeze or so, chances are you’ll pop a sinus pill, load up on Kleenex, and plop yourself in front of the fire to watch another holiday-themed movie. Sometimes this works, but sometimes there’s something a bit more complicated going on that might require allergy testing. Ohio has an allergen-friendly climate, and often people go years without realizing they have seasonal allergies. If a cold and sinus medication hasn’t been doing the trick, and symptoms seem to drag on for days or weeks, you may be suffering from allergies.
Just because the seasons change, that doesn’t mean your symptoms will.
Most of us enjoy summer’s perks; it’s the season of long nights, bikinis, and pints of beer on the patio. But summer is also the season of pollen, and for the unlucky among us that means sneezing, runny noses, and dry, itchy eyes. If that sounds like you, you might happily trade warm weather and sunshine for early evenings and chill winds, if it comes with the promise of symptom relief.
If you’re an allergy sufferer you might eagerly anticipate the transition between summer and fall. So when temperatures drop to the low thirties and your nose is still as red as Rudolph’s, you probably feel a bit cheated. Isn’t summer supposed to be allergy season? Shouldn’t it all be over when the ground turns white?
A link between eating, exercising and a severe allergic reaction?
Dr. Shah seems to have found just that throughout his observations and findings that he presented at the World Allergy Conference. Throughout studies of exercising without eating beforehand and eating without exercise – Dr. Shah found that patients seem to have no unique allergic reaction. Yet when patients combine eating a particular food or meal, then partaking in some form of exercise right after, an anaphylactic or severe reaction of some sort has taken place. Sparking a clue into the reason behind this happening could be the increase in blood flow and absorption in the stomach while exercising, thus bringing to life an allergic reaction.
Dr. Shah presented his findings on Food Allergies and Exercise at the recent XXII World Allergy Congress, where he spoke on the importance of waiting 60 minutes after eating before exercise.
Columbus, OH (PRWEB) June 26, 2012
In December, Dr. Summit Shah, allergist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, was asked to present his findings on food allergies and Exercise at the XXII World Allergy Congress. In his presentation, the Ohio allergist cautioned individuals to be mindful of reactions with food allergies and exercise.
Pass the tissues. Allergy season has arrived early this Spring, bringing with it sneezing, wheezing, and itchy, watery eyes. But along with early allergies, Central Ohio is still dealing with a late flu season, and the symptoms often overlap. Dr. Shah chats about getting your Allergies under control before April arrives.
Allergist Dr. Summit Shah lent his knowledge to the folks at Columbus Parent Magazine to help clear the waters surrounding food allergies–and the verdict isn’t in yet. Even if your child doesn’t have food allergies, most parents know which foods most often ignite allergic reactions: nuts, wheat, eggs and milk. But what do you do if you fear your child has a food allergy?
When September rolls around, it usually means back to school for the kiddos. Back to school also typically means allergy season, high ragweed concentrations, and a mix of allergens all creating a disruption for your little ones and their school routine. Last week, NBC4i stopped by our Dublin office to chat with Dr. Shah about the problems of back to school allergies and what can be done to help. Ellie Merritt interviewed allergist Dr. Summit Shah and gave an inside look at how a few young ladies deal with their allergies in a school setting.
Premier Allergy & Asthma very own allergist Dr. Shah talks about the introduction of rush immunotherapy and accelerated allergy shots being at the forefront of cutting edge allergy and asthma treatment options.
Dr. Summit Shah explains the difference between allergy symptoms and asthma symptoms, offers hope to allergy sufferers, and explains when you need to switch from over the counter medicines to prescription treatments and start looking for an allergist.
The beauty of budding plants and bouquet of aromas are sources of satisfaction for many gardeners. For allergy sufferers, though, gardening can be as much a chore as pursuit of passion.
Pollen from trees, shrubs and grasses can cause an onslaught of allergy symptoms, including sneezing, itchy eyes, congestion and in some cases, an asthma attack.
As the number of people suffering from seasonal allergies rises, it’s been increasingly important to discover new ways to combat allergic reactions and symptoms. There are current medical practices and medications that can manage symptoms, but rarely does a treatment aim to eliminate the problem. A new way of treating patients with these health issues is through a new method called rush immunotherapy. This not only helps reduce the frequency of reactions or the severity of symptoms, but it has in many cases helped patients overcome allergies all together. Learn more about Premier Allergy & Asthma rush immunotherapy allergy treatment.
Anaphylaxis is a serious allergic reaction that is rapid in onset and may cause death. The reaction can occur a few seconds to as long as an hour after exposure to the allergen. It is a medical emergency, and in most cases it requires immediate treatment and then follow-up care by an allergist. Anaphylaxis is triggered when the immune system overreacts to a normally harmless substance such as food or medicines. The symptoms may be mild to severe and affect various body organ systems.
Each person may experience symptoms of anaphylaxis differently. The most common symptoms include:
- Respiratory system: chest tightness, shortness of breath, wheezing, throat tightness, cough, itchy mouth/throat, nasal congestion
- Cardiac system: low heart rate, pale/blue color, dizziness, low blood pressure, lightheadedness
- Skin and mucous membranes: hives all over body, swelling, itchiness, redness, itchy/watery/red eyes
- Gastrointestinal system: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach ache
- Other symptoms: anxiety, feeling of “impending doom”
The allergen triggering anaphylaxis can vary for each allergic person. However, some of the more common causes of anaphylaxis include:
- Foods – Any food can cause an allergic reaction, but the foods that cause the most cases of anaphylaxis are peanuts, tree nuts (such as walnuts, cashews and almonds), shellfish, fish, milk and eggs.
- Medications – Any medication can cause an allergic reaction. However, common medications that cause anaphylaxis are antibiotics and anti-seizure medications.
- Stinging insects – Yellow jackets, honeybees, paper wasps, hornets and fire ants can inject venom during a sting causing a severe and even fatal reaction in some people.
- Latex – Some products made from natural rubber contain latex allergens that can cause a severe allergic reaction in sensitive individuals.
Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency and immediate medical attention is necessary. The sooner the reaction is treated, the less severe it will become.
Those with a severe allergy may be prescribed epinephrine autoinjectors, which are shots of adrenaline that relieve breathing problems and improve heart rate and blood pressure. This medication should be carried at all times. Antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) may also be given for itching and hives. Oral steroids may be given to reduce further allergic inflammation.
Those with severe allergies should wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace that identifies the allergy in case of an anaphylactic reaction. Family, friends, employers, and school staff should be informed and educated about the allergy. This way, they will be able to recognize the problem and better assist if a reaction occurs.
- Regular check-ups with your doctor are very important, even if you have been symptom free for an extended period.
- Take all your prescribed medications. There are two types of medicine:
- Long-term control medications – These are taken daily on a long-term basis. They maintain control by lessening chronic inflammation.
- Quick-relief medications – These are short-acting beta agonists (SABAs). They relax airway muscles to provide quick relief.
- Children should follow a written action plan written by you and your child’s doctor. It should list what medications to give your child and what to do if symptoms worsen, including what medications to give and when to contact your child’s doctor or go to the emergency room.
- Monitor your child’s breathing with a peak flow meter. Peak flow monitoring is considered for children around 6 years and older with moderate or severe persistent symptoms, a history of severe episodes, perceived airflow obstruction, or worsening symptoms. This easy-to-use plastic device measures how well air moves out of your child’s lungs. The peak flow number and your symptoms are used as a guide to help diagnose severity.
If you or your child has had a serious reaction to an insect sting in the past, then testing for an allergy to venom is necessary. Allergy testing is performed for five stinging insects: the white-faced hornet, yellow hornet, yellow jacket, honey bee and wasp.
When most people are stung by an insect, the site of the sting develops redness, swelling and itching. However, when people are allergic to insect stings, their immune system overreacts to the venom by producing allergic antibodies called immunoglobulin E (IgE). This triggers the release of substances including histamine that then cause an allergic reaction.
Each person’s symptoms are different, but everyone must pay attention to the early warning signs to recognize that an episode may be developing. These signs may include breathing changes or coughing, feeling tired, having less energy for exercise and having lower peak flow meter numbers. A peak flow meter is an easy-to-use plastic device that measures how well air moves out of your lungs.
The most effective way to prevent stings is to stay away from stinging insects. These insects are most likely to sting if their homes are disturbed. It is worthwhile to have nests around your home destroyed.
Here are a few tips for avoiding insect stings:
During an attack, the air passages become swollen and narrow and produces a thick mucous. At the same time, the muscles around the airways become tight. The tightening of the muscles, called bronchospasm, causes the airways to become even narrower.
At Premier Allergy & Asthma in Columbus, Ohio, asthma can be treated and diagnosed. Asthma is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that can cause repeated episodes of coughing, wheezing and breathing difficulty. It can be triggered by allergens, infection, exercise, cold air and other factors. It is one of the most common chronic diseases of childhood, affecting more than six million children and 15 million adults.
If the insect left its stinger in your skin, remove the stinger within 30 seconds to avoid receiving more venom. The stinger and its sac may be removed with a quick scrape of your fingernail.
To treat local reactions to insect stings:
An allergist/immunologist is a pediatrician or internist who has undergone two to three years of special training in the diagnosis and treatment of allergic and immunologic diseases. To understand what you are allergic to, an allergist will:
- Take a personalized patient history, including a thorough record of the illness, a family history, and information on home and work/school environments
- Perform allergy testing
- Possibly perform other laboratory tests
An allergist can create a management plan with you for better control of your environment and your symptoms. Your plan may also include proper medication and, if necessary, allergen immunotherapy (allergy shots).
At our clinic in Columbus, Ohio, allergy shots will be administered to slowly reduce the severity and frequency of your allergies. Despite this, allergies cannot be totally cured. A combination of avoidance measures, our medication, and our therapies will improve the quality of your life. Call us today or submit through our one-click form to schedule an appointment!
In some cases, yes. Severe and untreated hay fever may lead to asthma, sinusitis and other serious conditions. Atopic dermatitis or eczema can spread to secondary skin infections if they are not treated properly, and untreated asthma can lead to chronic symptoms. Early detection and treatment of all allergic diseases is important.
Angioedema is an allergic reaction similar to hives, but it causes swelling deeper in the layers of the skin. It commonly affects the hands, feet, genitals and face (lips and eyes). It generally lasts longer than hives (which can occur simultaneously) but the swelling usually goes away in 24 hours. In rare cases, angioedema may involve the throat and tongue, blocking the airway and causing breathing difficulty. This can become a life-threatening emergency.
Allergic reactions can develop at any age, no matter how old you are. Since repeated exposure to certain allergens can cause an allergic reaction, it makes sense to develop allergies when you’re older, as you’ve had more time to be in contact with dust, dander, mold and pollen.
Hives and angioedema occur when histamine is released from special cells found along the skin’s blood vessels. In response to histamine, plasma leaks out from these blood vessels in the skin. Allergic reactions to things like foods, medicines, insect stings and sunlight exposure can cause histamine release. Sometimes it is impossible to determine exactly why hives have formed.
It normally works the other way around – people can grow into allergies. There are cases in which one allergy replaces another, such as with childhood food allergies. Children normally suffer from food allergies more than adults. Once they grow up, they may get rid of food allergies but then be affected by seasonal or environmental allergies. About 85% of children outgrow food allergies to milk, soy, egg and wheat, but only 20% outgrow a peanut allergy. Up to half of young children outgrow their asthma, but many find that their symptoms return later in life. For most children, eczema improves during childhood.
There are two main theories. One blames our increasing immune system sensitivity to the many synthetic chemicals in today’s society. Another theory, known as the “hygiene hypothesis,” states that the human immune system is becoming more reactive to allergens because of modern hygiene and health care. Our immune system is designed to fight off viruses, bacteria, parasites and other microbes. However, with modern hygiene, sanitation, vaccines, antibiotics and health care, our immune system does not have many invaders to fight off, and so its attention and energy are re-directed to normally harmless foreign substances.
- Acute urticaria and/or angioedema are hives or swelling lasting less than six weeks. The most common causes are foods, medicines, latex or infections. Foods that commonly cause hives are milk, eggs, soy, wheat, fish, shellfish and peanuts. Medicines that can cause hives include penicillin, sulfa medications, anti-seizure medications and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs, such aspirin and ibuprofen).
- Chronic urticaria and/or angioedema are recurrent hives, lasting longer than six weeks. The cause is usually more difficult to identify. Causes may be similar to acute urticaria, but may also include autoimmunity, viral infections and malignancy.
Physical urticaria is hives caused by direct physical stimulation of the skin. Common causes are exposure to sunlight, heat, cold air or water, vibration, pressure, sweating and exercise.
- Dermatographism is hives caused by scratching the skin, continual stroking of the skin or wearing tight-fitting clothes that rub the skin. These hives may be found in conjunction with other types of hives.
- Hereditary angioedema is a rare form of angioedema passed on in families. It can cause painful, non-itchy swelling of the skin, and it may involve the face, extremities, genitals, tongue and throat.
A specific allergy is not usually inherited, but your tendency to develop allergies is often passed down through families. If both parents have allergies, their child is likely to have allergies. However, your chance of developing allergies seems to be greater if your mother has allergies.
People with seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever) experience symptoms during the time of year when certain allergens are in the air outdoors. There are several allergy seasons: springtime, when plants bloom and tree pollen counts soar; summer, the season for grass and weed pollen allergies; and autumn, the time for ragweed and mold allergies. Perennial allergies, or year-round allergies, are typically caused by indoor allergies to dust mites, mold, cockroaches and pet dander.
About 50 million Americans, or 1 in 6 people, have environmental allergies, or allergic rhinitis. Allergic disorders are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the United States, according to the Allergy Report from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
An allergic person produces a specific type of antibody called immunoglobulin E, or IgE, in response to normally harmless substances such as certain foods or medicines, pollen, animal dander and mold. These IgE antibodies cause allergic reactions. If a person is exposed again to the allergen, the IgE antibodies stimulate what are called mast cells to release chemicals such as histamine to destroy the “foreign” substance.
The release of histamine causes typical allergy symptoms such as runny nose, itchy and watery eyes, sneezing, asthmatic reactions, hives, and a drop in blood pressure in severe cases. This is why antihistamines are the mainstay of treatment for allergies.
A diagnosis is usually made based on a complete medical history and physical examination. There are no specific tests for hives or angioedema. Skin testing may be performed to identify allergens. Routine blood testing may be done to determine whether any other illnesses are causing hives and/or angioedema.
The first step in treating a drug allergy is to stop the drug that is causing the reaction. Mild allergy symptoms such as hives and itching may be relieved with antihistamines. Topical corticosteroids may also be recommended. If asthma-like symptoms such as cough or wheezing are present, a bronchodilator such as albuterol may be prescribed by an allergist.
Serum sickness is a delayed type of drug allergy that occurs a week or more after exposure to a medication. The immune system misidentifies a protein in the drug as a potentially harmful substance, and it develops an immune response to fight it, causing inflammation and other symptoms.
Symptoms of serum sickness do not develop until seven to 21 days after the first exposure to the drug. However, people may develop symptoms in one to three days if they have previously taken the medication. Within one to two weeks of taking a medication, the following signs and symptoms may be present:
- Muscle and joint aches
- Swollen throat glands (lymph nodes)
- Changes in urine color
Avoidance of the allergen is the best treatment. If it is caused by a medication, strict avoidance is necessary.
Allergists may recommend antihistamines to decrease histamine release, which can lessen the symptoms of hives and/or angioedema. They may be prescribed on a regular schedule to prevent symptoms. Chronic hives may be treated with antihistamines or a combination of medications. For severe hives and angioedema, an injection of epinephrine may be needed.
Drug rashes are the body’s reaction to certain medications. The type of rash that occurs depends on the type of drug that is causing it. Rashes can range from mild to severe.
Rarely, drug rashes may result in blisters. These blisters can be a sign of a more serious condition, so they require medical attention.
Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a chronic allergic skin condition mainly affecting infants and children. It often begins within the first year of life, with 60% of cases occurring by age 1 and up to 90% of cases by age 5. It may last until adolescence or adulthood. If eczema is diagnosed in adulthood, it is generally a long-term or recurring condition. Fifty percent to 75% of patients with eczema may eventually develop hay fever and/or asthma.
The main feature of eczema is itchy, dry skin that scales and flakes. Often, there is a personal or family history of eczema, hay fever, hives, food allergies or asthma. When skin itchiness is not controlled, an “itch/scratch cycle” leads to continued rubbing and scratching and subsequent thickening of the skin called lichenification.
Fortunately, at long last, we now have the ability to test for penicillin and penicillin derivatives through a simple skin test. If the history and testing align, the diagnosis is confirmed in about 97% of cases. Diagnosis of other drug allergies is done mostly through a patient’s medical history. Allergists are specifically trained for this.
The location of eczema on the body changes with age. In infants and young children, the cheeks, neck, knees and elbows are typically affected. In older children and adults, the hands, feet and areas inside the elbows and knees may be affected.
Symptoms may also include:
- Dry, leathery, scaly skin
- Intense itching
- Blisters with oozing and crusting
- Raw areas of the skin from scratching
- Skin color changes
- Skin redness or inflammation
Everyone reacts to medications differently. One person may develop a rash, while another person on the same drug may have no adverse reaction. All medications have the potential to cause side effects, but only about 5% to 10% of adverse reactions to drugs are allergic. Reactions to medications can range from mild to life threatening.
A drug allergy is an allergic reaction that occurs when the body’s immune system produces antibodies and activates disease-fighting cells in response to a specific drug. In the development of a drug allergy, the immune system is triggered by the first exposure to the medication. A future exposure causes an immune response, including the production of allergic antibodies and release of histamine. So, drug allergy reactions occur after a person has been previously exposed to the drug one or more times without any allergic reaction.
There is no cure for immunodeficiency disorders. The goal of treatment is to control infections and maintain the patient’s quality of life. Infections are treated with antibiotics, which are sometimes taken on a regular schedule for preventive treatment. Patients with low antibody levels may be given injections of immunoglobulins (antibodies) to increase antibody levels.
People with immunodeficiency disorders experience recurrent ear infections, sinusitis, bronchitis or pneumonia. It is common for children with immunodeficiencies to develop thrush (a fungal infection of the mouth) and other infections of the skin and mucous membranes in the eyes, mouth and genital area. Gastrointestinal infections may cause diarrhea, weight loss and failure to thrive.
Immunodeficiency refers to a group of diseases in which the immune system does not function normally. A normal immune system will attack what is seen as a foreign invader, like bacteria and viruses. When the immune system does not work properly, a person is more likely to suffer from frequent and longer-lasting infections, often from organisms that usually don’t make most people sick. Most cases of immunodeficiency are acquired (“secondary”), but some people are born with defects in the immune system (a “primary” immunodeficiency).
Your breathing will be easier after an Ohio allergist has performed skin prick testing and/or blood testing to identify possible airborne allergens that trigger your rhinitis. Once these allergens are identified, you should avoid them if possible. Such measures may include remaining indoors when the pollen count is high and on windy days, dust-proofing the home and keeping animals out of the bedroom.
Treatment options may include the use of:
- Corticosteroid nasal sprays
Allergy shots, also known as allergen immunotherapy, may be recommended if avoidance and medications are not effective.
Allergic rhinitis can lead to recurrent or chronic sinusitis. The nasal obstruction and inflammation associated with allergic rhinitis interrupts the normal clearing of mucus from nasal passages, causing the sinus cavities to become clogged with mucus and making it difficult to breathe.
When you’re looking to breathe easy in Columbus, you’ve got to know what you’re up against in the area. Not all rhinitis can be blamed on Mother Nature. Rhinitis can result from anything, from the common cold, to cigarette smoke, cleaning solutions or chlorine in swimming pools. Rhinitis symptoms may also be caused by structural blockage of the nasal passage, irritants, medications, temperature changes and other physical factors. These are often called vasomotor rhinitis or non-allergic rhinitis.
Seasonal, which occur mainly during pollen seasons. Particularly bad Ohio allergens include Canadian goldenrod and carnations. Blooming trees, grass, and weeds also release pollen. With blooms occurring earlier and more pollen in the air, it is increasingly hard for allergy-sufferers to breathe easy in Ohio.
Perennial, which occur year round. Common allergens are mold, animal dander and dust mites.
Environmental allergies are generally known as allergic rhinitis. This is an allergic reaction that occurs in the nose when allergens in the air trigger the release of histamine. Histamine makes it difficult to breathe, causing inflammation, nasal congestion, swelling of the nasal membranes, blockage and reduction of normal sinus drainage.
There is no cure for food allergies, although many children do outgrow them. Here are some precautions Ohio allergists suggest you take:
- Avoid the food: The only treatment is complete avoidance of the specific foods that trigger the allergy.
- Ask about ingredients: People with food allergies must always inquire about ingredients when eating away from home.
- Read food labels: It is important to read food labels carefully. The United States has adopted food labeling rules that ensure that the common food allergens are listed in familiar language.
- Wear a medical alert bracelet: These inform health care workers and others of food allergies. They can be purchased in most drugstores or online.
- Be prepared for emergencies: Anaphylactic reactions caused by food allergies can be potentially life threatening. Fortunately, anaphylaxis can be treated with an injection of epinephrine, which can halt the progression of systemic symptoms and stop the reaction. Those with food allergies must carry and know how to use injectable epinephrine and antihistamines to treat reactions due to accidental ingestion.
A person is usually diagnosed with a food allergy after having a reaction that requires medical attention. If it is not clear what food caused the reaction, skin prick testing and/or ImmunoCAP blood testing may be performed by an allergist to identify the food allergen. Elimination diets, which involve removing certain foods from the patient’s diet, may also be implemented.
Eight foods account for up to 90% of all food-allergic reactions. They include:
- Tree nuts (such as almonds, cashews, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts and pistachios)
Food allergies are on the rise. There is much ongoing research to learn more about the causes. The following factors make food allergies more likely:
- Family history: Many children with food allergies come from families with a history of food allergies, hay fever or asthma.
- Eczema: Many children who have food allergies also have eczema.
- Young age: Food allergies occur most often in infants and toddlers.
If you have a true food allergy, there is always a chance for anaphylaxis. Symptoms usually appear a few minutes to 1-2 hours after eating the food. The following are the most common symptoms of anaphylaxis, but each person may experience symptoms differently.
Food allergies develop when the immune system, for unknown reasons, fights against a particular food protein even though it is harmless. There are many people with food intolerances, which cause symptoms such as minor skin rashes or stomach upset. Food allergies, which trigger the immune system, are less common and more severe. True food allergy can cause anaphylaxis – a serious allergic reaction that is rapid in onset and may cause death.
Theses tests are performed at a hospital or radiology center where X-rays or CT scans are taken of the chest or sinuses in order to diagnose various lung diseases. Following the scan, a report will be sent to us and we may request that you bring a copy of the X-ray or CT scan to your appointment in order to go over the results. If it is determined you suffer from a lung condition, we will help determine the best course of action for treatment, which might include avoidance, allergen immunotherapy, and medication.
This test is typically administered for those who are unable to undergo a skin test due to antihistamine use, skin diseases, chronic hives, or an immune system disorder. By taking a sample of blood, this test can determine environmental allergies and food allergies, as well as immune system deficiencies. It can also evaluate those with chronic hives. Test results are not immediate and typically take a few days to a couple weeks to become available.
By breathing into a mouthpiece that is attached to a spirometer, the physicians are able to determine the the amount of air in your lungs and your ability to move the air out of your lungs. It is designed to diagnose issues with asthma and monitor any treatment methods. The test is non-invasive and the results are immediate. Upon taking the test, you might be given a bronchodilator treatment that will relieve some of the effects of asthma.
Patch Testing checks for chemicals that cause a delayed reaction, such as contact dermatitis. This test is performed by placing a safe, chemical patch on the person’s back. In order to have the patch placed on, patients should properly clean the skin and be freshly showered. No rubbing alcohol should be used in the cleaning process, and the patch will not be able to be properly placed if the subject is still wet. It the tape peels off, the entire process will have to be repeated. This patch stays on the skin for two days before being removed to be examined. It is again examined three to four days later to make sure nothing new has developed. The test is considered positive if blisters, bumps, or swelling develops. When you are preparing to have this test done, you should avoid taking any systemic immunosuppressants or oral steroids up to one month before, and topical steroids should not be used on the area of the skin that the patch will be placed one week before having the test done. Any use of inhaled steroids, leukotriene receptor antagonists, or antihistamines are still allowed to be used.
Our skin testing procedure checks for insect, food, and airborne allergens through the measurement of your allergic antibodies levels to these allergens. To do this we use a small plastic device that applies tiny amounts of solutions to the skin with a prick or scratch that contain the various types of allergens. By checking for an area of raised skin, we’ll be able to determine if there is a positive reaction. However, even if there is an area of raised skin, it does not necessarily mean you are allergic to an allergen, as other factors play a role in the test. If an allergen does not show up on a prick test, we will repeat the test using a tiny needle in which we will inject a small amount of that allergen into the first layer of skin, which will form a small, mosquito-like bite bubble. This test typically yields results in 15-20 minutes, and the area tested could get itchy, but not for very long. Prior to having this test administered, you should avoid using antihistamines 5 to 7 days before coming in to get tested. This skin test is not usually performed on those who have suffered a life-threatening reaction, or to someone who has hives or severe eczema.
Each patient may express their rhinitis differently, but symptoms and signs include:
- Struggling to breathe
- Runny nose
- Itchy nose, throat, eyes and ears
- Clear drainage from the nose
Children with perennial allergic rhinitis may suffer frequent ear infections, snore, breathe through the mouth, be frequently fatigued and, thereby, perform poorly in school.