Happy New Year 2013

Have a great year

filled with all the

joy and happiness in the world.

Wishing you a very

Happy New Year

2013

Ildiko Stuban,  Author of the livingwithallergy.com

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How ‘Spicy’ is Your Allergy?!

Shop with spices in Morocco

Allergies to spices affect millions of people around the world, but not everyone might ever know that these are allergies. A lot of sufferers might feel that their digestive system gets upset when they eat certain foods. Sometimes it is difficult to determine that the reason for these conditions are spices.

Allergies to spices like onion, garlic, black pepper are common in the United States, but the most common culprits are found within ethnic groups and diet. Spices known as allergy triggers are also paprika, cinnamon, anise, turmeric, cumin, coriander, vanilla. Spices are usually found in small amounts in food, but it is enough for those who are sensitive to that specific allergen. Spices can make matters worse if they are mixes, e.g. curry. There are several types of curry, each is a different blend of many spices. Several blends contain anywhere from three to 18 spices, and the hotter the spice, the greater the chance for allergy. The Five-Spice blend has seven spices. Allspice has only one. However any spices and herbs can cause allergic reactions any time.

Spices at central market in Agadir (Morocco) F...“I strongly believe that spice allergies are markedly under-diagnosed because of the great difficulty in identifying it.” says Sami Bahna, chief of allergy and immunology at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, Shreveport. “Patients with spice allergy often have to go through extreme measures to avoid the allergen. This can lead to strict dietary avoidance, low quality of life and sometimes malnutrition.”

When we hear about spices we usually think about food, but spices are everywhere. They can be found as hidden ingredients in cosmetic products, such as makeup and body oils, dental products such as toothpaste, spice-scented air fresheners or in decorations such as  cinnamon scented pinecones at Christmas holiday.

Allergies can be triggered by digesting the allergen or by breathing them in or even just by touching them.

It is important to know that many reactions to spices, such as runny nose or sneezing are not always allergic reactions, says Stanley Fineman, president of the allergy college and a physician at the Atlanta Allergy & Asthma Clinic. They act by irritating the mucus membrane in the nose.

A true allergic reaction to any food  involves the immune system. Some of the symptoms include hives, swelling of the throat and skin, rash, stomach ache, diarrhea, indigestion, asthma, vomiting itching of the tongue, lips, face. In rare cases severe lowering of the blood pressure, trouble breathing and the risk of unconsciousness or death known as anaphylaxis can occur.

Different food processing can influence the effect of that particular spice. “Boiling, roasting, frying and other forms of applying heat to spices may reduce allergy causing agents, but can also enhance them depending on the spice,” said Dr. Bahna.

spicesSpices are widely used in food and different products. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not regulate spice labeling, making it more difficult to identify and avoid them. Therefore close attention to ingredients is absolutely necessary. Approximately 2 percent of food allergies are triggered by spices. However it is underdiagnosed, particularly due to the lack of reliable allergy skin tests or blood tests.

If you have a known spice allergy, you should avoid the allergy trigger spices from your diet. Do your research before you order any food in a restaurant, and read the label before you buy processed food  any kind. If you have any doubt, call the manufacturer for more information.

The best way to be  safe is by  cooking your favorite dishes at home.

Beware of Holiday Season Allergies

the sexy santa assistants were there to take a...

The holiday season may holds many hazards for those suffering from allergies and asthma. During winter holidays when we gather with friends and spend more time indoors we are exposed to many different allergens. Eating at friends’ houses, at parties or in restaurants can be a huge source of anxiety for people with food allergies.

Even traveling and stress can lead to asthma attacks. Chemicals released by the body during stress can tighten the muscles around the airway causing the attacks.

Plan ahead and take some preventive actions to be safe  during the holiday season.

The scent

You probably want to create a cozy atmosphere with scented candles like pumpkin, pine, and vanilla. These scents can be hazardous to some people. One third of asthma sufferers have a problem with scented candles and air-fresheners. Even low levels of these compounds can increase the risk of asthma, especially in children. Limit or eliminate scented candles, potpourri, air fresheners, and plant arrangements.

Instead of using these aromatic scents, open the windows to air out the house, or let the smell of fresh baked cookies from the oven provide natural aromas.

Look for hidden allergens in decorations.

Real Christmas trees can make you sneeze because the fragrance may be irritating.  They can carry mold spores causing allergy symptoms. Let the real tree dry in the garage for a week and give  it a good shake before you bring it inside.  You can also use a leaf-blower (away from the house or garage) to remove visible pollen grains. Wipe the trunk thorougly with a solution of water and diluted bleach( 1 part bleach to 20 parts water) to remove mold. If you suffer from allergies consider using an artificial tree, girland, or wreath. Be careful with  artificial snow; It can cause lung irritation.

Your decorations from the last year could become moldy, dusty and loaded with allergy-triggering dust mites if they weren’t stored properly in an air-tight container.

Also be aware of ponsettias since the plant is a part of the rubber tree family, which can cause serious problems for those with latex allergy.

Choose gifts carefully

Jewelries such as earrings, necklaces, watches contain Nickel, a common cause of contact dermatitis. Candy can contain nuts. Parfume and other things with strong scents can trigger allergic reactions, rashes, and asthma. Better to chose gifts like books, clothes, or gift cards.

The food                                                                                                                      

Holidays are filled with foods which makes difficult to navigate through for those who have food allergies. Ask about ingredients before you chose to eat them. Be aware of the possibility of cross-contamination during the food preparation. If you think the provided food hide too much risk for you, don’t eat them. Bring your own food or eat at home before you arrive.

Take time to check restaurant menus before eating out. Call them ahead to help you identify menu items  that allergic people can  eat safely. Ask if the restaurant’s chef can prepare an allergy-free meal for you. This tip is valuable year-round, but especially important during the holiday season. Order simple food like broiled chicken, fish and avoid food which requires complicated preparation. Beware of buffets where cross-contamination may take place.

Be prepared

Any precaution can be a weapon against an allergic reaction. When visiting family or friends be prepared for possible allergic reactions to everything from food to pets to parfumes. Make sure someone else knows about your allergies, signs of a reaction and emergency procedures. Always carry your appropriate medications, and a written action plan highlighting  your physician’s name and phone number for quick reference in case of an emergency. Have your autoinjectable epinephrin at-hand just in case.

 

Related article:

Source:

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) Editorial Board

Food Allergies Linked to Pesticides

Common food allergies in childrenEnvironmental pollution and the occurence of food allergies in the United States are on the rise. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) an increase in food allergies of 18 per cent was seen between 1997 and 2007.

The increased use of pesticides and other chemicals in the environment is associated with a higher prevalence of food allergies according to a study published in the December issue of the Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. Elina Jerschow, assistant professor of allergy and immunology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York said: “Our research shows that high levels of dichlorophenol-containing pesticides can possibly weaken food tolerance in some people, causing food allergy. ”

What are Dichlorophenols?

Dichlorophenols are widely used as pesticides and for chlorination of water. Researchers have found that people exposed to high levels of dichlorophenols, the chemical added to water to ensure it is free of bugs, tend to be more prone to food allergies. It doesn’t mean that people should stop drinking tap water to avoid dichlorophenols exposure. Even those who opted for bottled water instead of tap water could ingest the pesticide chemical from eating pesticide-treated fruits and vegetables, fruit juices and foods. This chemicals are also commonly found in pesticides used by farmers and consumer insect and weed control products.

How dichlorophenols affect our environment?

Dichlorophenols have a strong antibacterial effect that could affect microflora in the environment. Dichlorophenols are a kind of chlorine that are known to kill bacteria. A new study reported in the December issue of Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology support the hypothesis that high levels of dichlorophenols can alter the population of microbes within the human body, which can affect the way that the body react to food. According to the study urine dichlorophenols level at the 75th percentile and above were associated with the presence of sensitization to foods. Excessive use of dichlorophenols may contribute to the increasing incidence of food allergies in westernized societies.

Jerschow said the research is still too preliminary to suggest that Americans should change  their eating or drinking habits.

Most common food allergens

The egg, milk, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, soy, and wheat make up 90 percent of food allergies. Symptoms can range from mild rash to a life-threatening anaphylaxis. The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) recommends everyone with known food allergy to always carry two doses of allergiest prescribed epinephrine. The delay in using epinephrin can lead to death.

Related articles:

Source:

Danger of “antibacterial”

Bio-Tag - Triclosan

An antibacterial chemical, called Triclosan, found in toothpaste and other personal care products may increase the risk of allergy development in children. Triclosan has been used since 1972, but was recently associated with allergies in children.

What is Triclosan?
Triclosan is an antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral agent. Triclosan has been in use for decades in a variety of common household products, including soaps, deodorants, toothpastes, mouthwashes, dish detergents, hand sanitizers, cleaning supplies, and toys. It is also a component in some pesticides, mattresses, insulation and underlayments used under flooring such as laminate, wood, carpeting in order to stop the growth of bacteria, fungi, and mildew. In the United States, manufacturers of products containing triclosan must indicate it on the label.

How can Triclosan affect our health?
Triclosan can change the bacterial flora in the mouth, on the skin and in the intestines. The change in the delicate balance between beneficial and “bad” bacteria in the body can lead to immune system dysregulation, causing an increased risk of developing allergies (hygiene hypothesis). The researchers found link between the growing incidence of allergies and the increased use of products containing triclosan. The study does not demonstrate that the antibacterial chemicals themselves cause the allergies but instead suggest that they play a significant role in immune system development. Several studies have shown that triclosan may alter hormone regulation in laboratory animals or cause antibiotic resistance.
According to the FDA, triclosan is not currently known to be hazardous to humans, but a number of scientific studies emphasize the need to review the manufacturer’s guidelines on the use of this chemical in consumer products.

About the study
Researchers have found that children with high urinary levels of triclosan have a twofold higher risk of environmental and food allergies. The higher urinary levels of the chemical were associated with increased levels of Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibody, which is elevated in the blood of people with allergies. According to the study the probability of food and aeroallergen (especially rhinitis) sensitization is significantly higher with increased exposure to triclosan.
Comparison of the Norwegian and U.S. summary of the studies show approximately 50 per cent of the Norwegian children had detectable levels of triclosan in their urine, while 80 per cent of American children had measurable levels. Children from both groups had approximately the same amount of triclosan exposure.
The triclosan study is a collaboration between the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo University Hospital and the National Institute of Health Sciences (NIEHS) in the U.S. The study was published online on November 2012 in Allergy, the official journal of the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

What is the problem with Triclosan?
Triclosan is linked to inhalation and liver toxicity. Low levels of triclosan may disrupt thyroid function. Due to the uncompleted waste water treatment, the chemical, which is very toxic to aquatic life, ends up in our lakes, rivers and water sources.

How to avoid Triclosan?
There is no evidence that household use of antibacterial products provides benefits over plain soap and water, and the American Medical Association recommends that triclosan not be used in the home, as it may encourage bacterial resistance to antibiotics.

Watch the label for triclosan (and triclocarban) in personal care products. Read ingredient labels carefully.

Avoid “antibacterial” products.  Triclosan is used in everyday personal care products like toothbrushes, toys, plastic containers, and cutting boards that may be labeled “antibacterial,” or make claims such as “odor-fighting” or “keeps food fresher, longer”.              

Use simple detergents and soaps with short ingredient lists and avoid antibacterial products with triclosan for home use.

Triclosan can be found in these products: soap and dishwashing liquid, towels, mattresses sponges, personal care products, shower curtains, toothbrushes, phones, kitchenware, and plastic food containers, shoes, flooring, and carpets, cutting boards, clothing, fabrics, and toys.

References:

http://www.epa.gov/oppsrrd1/REDs/factsheets/triclosan_fs.htm

http://www.jacionline.org/article/S0091-6749(11)02347-5/fulltext

What You Need to Know About Anaphylaxis

English: At sea aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt ...

Anaphylaxis is considered as the worst type of allergic reaction. If anaphylaxis isn’t treated right away, it can lead to unconsciousness or even death. Allergic reaction is when the immune system mistakenly responds to an allergen and creates an immune response against it. The immune system recognize the allergen as a foreign substance and the body produces antibodies, and release histamine which is responsible for the allergic symptoms.

What is Anaphylaxis?

This condition is a generalized allergic reaction that usually involves two or more body systems such as respiratory, skin, cardiovascular, gastro-intestinal, and central nervous systems.   In most cases, anaphylaxis develops quickly and can take only one to two minutes for a mild allergic reaction to escalate to anaphylaxis. Symptoms: The blood pressure drops suddenly, the airways narrow, blocking the normal breathing. Rapid, weak pulse, skin rash, nausea, and vomiting.

Facts About the Reported Cases for Anaphylaxis

The incidence of anaphylaxis is approximately 50 to 2,000 per 100,000 persons per year. Rates appear to be increasing. The incidence in 1980’s was approximately 20 per 100,000 per year, while in the 1990’s it was 50 per 100,000 per year.

Anaphylaxis causes approximately 1500 deaths in the U.S. annually. A majority of anaphylaxis victims have pre-existing allergies. The risk is higher in young people and females. The food-included anaphylaxis showed the highest increase. The cause of anaphylaxis is unidentified in one-third to two-thirds of patients.

Importance of Carrying and Using Epinephrine

Studies of fatal anaphylactic reactions to food have found that most of the episodes occurred away from home, and most of the victims did not have epinephrine with them. Usually the faster the onset of an anaphylactic reaction, the greater the likelihood that it will be severe.

What are the different Causes of Anaphylaxis?

There are several factors that can trigger this life-threatening condition. The following are the various causes of anaphylaxis:

  • Food  –  Eight foods account for 90% of all food-allergic reactions. They are milk, peanut, tree nuts, eggs, fish, shellfish, wheat and soy. The fact is that almost any kinds of food can trigger the condition to occur. It is necessary to remember that even a small amount or even the smell of these foods could make you suffer from this condition. Approximately 12 million Americans have food allergies. An estimated 150 people die annually from anaphylaxis due to food allergy. Peanut and/or tree nut (e.g. Walnut) allergy affects about three million Americans, or 1.1% of the population.
  • Insect stings and bites – Wasp, bee, and jack jumper ant stings are also known to be the most common causes of anaphylaxis. Other insects like green ants, fire ants and ticks could also trigger this harmful condition. After the first stings, your body produces antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE). If stung again, the venom interacts with this specific IgE antibody, triggering the release of substances that cause an allergic reaction. An estimated 5% of the U.S. population ( 15 million Americans)are allergic to insect venom. There are at least 40 deaths per year due to the venom.
  • Drugs – There are some medicines that can trigger anaphylaxis.  The most common drug associated with allergies is penicillin. Other drugs commonly found to cause reactions include insulin, barbiturates, sulfa drugs, anticonvulsants, iodine (Contrast agents for radiology procedures often contain iodine).  0.7 to 10% , as many as 30 million people are allergic to penicillin. There are about 400 deaths due to penicillin anaphylaxis yearly.
  • Other substances, chemicals:  Latex. Up to 3 to 18 million people are allergic to latex in the U.S. There are about 220 cases of anaphylaxis and 3 deaths per year due to latex allergy.

What to Do if You Have Anaphylaxis?

If you or one of your loved ones is suffering from this condition, it is a must to go to the nearest hospital immediately to prevent complications. There are different medicines that can treat this condition:

  • Epinephrine: This is the most common drug that is given to patients with anaphylaxis. This medicine is offered in the form of self-injectable devices which you can buy upon receiving the prescription of your doctor.
  • Antihistamine and steroids are also used to alleviate the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis.

What to Do to Prevent Anaphylaxis?

If you suffered from the particular condition before, the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) suggests the following to lower your risk for anaphylaxis:

  • You should wear your medical bracelet with a list of triggers.
  • Avoid those things that can cause allergic reaction.
  • Find out what you can do if you come in contact with causative factors. Call your physician to learn what you should do to prevent an allergic reaction.
  • Teach your loved ones how they can help you if you have this condition.

What is Medical Bracelet?

It’s commonly said that a medical alert bracelet speaks for you when you are unable to speak for yourself.
Medical ID bracelets are designed to provide with information about your specific medical or allergic condition, or medication you’re taking in the event of an emergency at the point in time when they’re about to administer emergency treatment. It’s recommended  by some medical personnel that everyone with a severe allergy or medical  condition should wear a medical bracelet.

If you experience severe symptoms, call your doctor or 911 immediately, or go to the nearest emergency room.

Always remember that it is better to prevent a disease instead of curing it.