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.

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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:

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.

Are You Allergic To Your Phone?

iPhone 2g, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4

A new study analyzed cellular phone models for  two common allergens; cobalt and nickel. With the expanded use of cell phones, allergists are reporting a rise in face rashes and contact dermatitis triggered by nickel and cobalt found in the phones. Symptoms are skin redness, itching, dry, itchy patches, swelling, even blistering and lesions where the metal makes contact with the skin. An allergic person can even develop post inflammatory  hyperpigmentation (darkened skin) and scarring.

The test results revealed the presence of both metals in many flip-phones. Among the smart phones the Blackberry was the only one found to contain nickel. “None of the iPhones or Androids tested positive for either metal”, said researcher Luz Fonacier, MD, of Winthrop University Hospital of New York Stony Brook.

The nickel was found mostly in worn out, torn, and heavily used keypads. Using an earpiece or cover could prove effective in ensuring minimum contact with the device. In case of severe  allergic reactions, consider replacing your current phone with one containing no nickel. iPhones or Droids may be a better choice to reduce the chances of an allergic reaction. “Blackberry users  allergic to those particular metals should avoid prolonged conversations, text messaging and handling their phone as soon as they begin feeling symptoms”, said Fonacier.

Phone manufacturers take steps to design the phones with no exposed nickel on the exterior surface.

Mobile phones however should not take all the blame for these allergies. The metals are used in computers, and are also common in jewelry, coins and makeup, according to the researchers.

“Nickel is commonly used in electronic parts for soldering and plating and is found inside all smartphones. However, this only becomes a concern for customers with known nickel allergies when a pure nickel or high nickel content material is exposed on the smartphone’s surface then comes into contact with the skin. Research In Motion (RIM) takes careful steps to design all Blackberry smartphones with no exposed nickel on the exterior surface” says Krista Seggewiss a company spokeswoman at Research In Motion , which makes Blackberries.

“Even the best phones from our study are still loaded with chemical hazards” said Jeff Gearhart, research director at the Ecology Center and founder of HealthyStuff.org.

“These chemicals, which are linked to birth defects, impaired learning and other serious health problems, have been found in soils at levels 10 to 100 times higher than background levels at e-waste recycling sites in China. We need better federal regulation of these chemicals, and we need to create incentives for the design of greener consumer electronics.”

AccordiImage representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...ng to another study, the least toxic phones were the LG Remark, the iPhone 4S, the Samsung Captivate, the iPhone 5 and the Samsung Evergreen. Usually, the older phones were more toxic then the newer. The best average ratings were given for the Samsung phones.

The most effort and improvement to remove toxic chemicals from their phones were made by Apple. In the study the iPhone 2G was the most toxic, but the iPhone 4S and 5 showed up near the top of the least toxic phone list.

The least toxic phone on the market out of 36 types of commonly used mobile phones was the Motorola Circus – according to the study completed by HealthyStuff.org and ifixit.org.

Phone manufacturers still use a range of hazardous materials such as lead, bromine, chlorine, mercury and cadmium. These materials can have a serious impact on our health. For example, mercury can cause garstointestinal tract, nervous system and kidney damages, as well as neurological impairment in children. Another harmful chemical is n-Hexane, mixed with solvents for a variety of uses including the cleaning of glass,  has poisoned electronic factory workers in China during cellphone production.

“Americans throw away 130 million cell phones each year and only 8 % of them are recycled properly” – according to ifixit.org. English: Mobile phone scrap, old decomissioned...There are no laws yet on the books for 32 states in the United States which would ban the disposal of electronics in incinerators or landfields.

These harmful chemicals can get into the soil and water due to improper recycling of mobile phones. Emission during disposal and recycling of phones and computers as electronic waste or e-waste is a growing problem.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6qFh1hqYVM

Related Websites

To learn more about how to recycle your electronics:

http://www.electronicstakeback.com/how-to-recycle-electronics/

Phone recyclers:

http://www.call2recycle.org/

Find rechargeable battery and cell phone recycle locations near you.

http://e-stewards.org/

Find local recyclers and read their useful information about recycling and e-waste crisis.

http://www.capstonewirelessllc.com

On their website you can request a free UPS shipping label. They also have a buy back program for your old phone.

Meat Allergy linked with Tick Bites

English: The tick Amblyomma americanum (Lone S...

These fall are bringing out more ticks than it was usual before in the Mid South and East Coast area.

A new study suggest a connection between the rise in creepy crawlies, and the increase in a certain allergy to beef and pork.

“Every patient I’ve had with this allergy has had a tick bite. It seems to be related to what is called the Lone star tick”. –said Dr. Tina Merrit of the Allergy Clinic of Northwest Arkansas. They are very common in Arkansas and Missouri, but cases of the freaky allergy are popping up along the East Coast too where areas also abound in Lone star ticks. 90 percent of the meat allergy patients had a history of tick bites.

“We’re in the process of collecting the very tiny amounts of liquid out of a tick mouth and learning how to analyze that. I believe there’s evidence that ticks are causing the allergies. If it’s a tick disease, it might involve fighting ticks. We’re searching for proof,” said  Doctor Jack Lay from the University of Arkansas.

Delayed allergic reaction showed up roughly three to six hours after eating red meat. Symptoms can range from hives to anaphylactic shock. Experts say the six-hour lag between exposure to meat and the allergic reaction complicates things even more. It’s very atypical because most food allergies occur very quickly.

The Lone star tick is a very small tick that can have a white dot on the back and it’s very common in the Mid South area, but is found throughout the eastern, southeastern and south-central states.

All three life stages (larva, nymph, adult) of the lone star tick will feed on humans, and may be quite aggressive. Lone star ticks will also feed readily on other animals, including dogs and cats, and may be brought into the home on pets. The saliva from lone star ticks can be irritating; redness and discomfort at a bite site does not necessarily indicate an infection.

The infection may be hard to diagnose because there’s no rash and the tick and its bite are very tiny. Lab inspection of a blood sample under a microscope is currently the only way to confirm infection.

Tick-borne illness may be prevented :

–         by avoiding tick habitat  Avoid tick habitat like wooded and bushy areas with high grass and  leaf litter. Walk in the center of trails.

–         by using insect repellents containing DEET or permethrin, Use insect repellents that contain 20% or more DEET for protection that lasts up  to several hours. Always follow product instructions. Parents should apply this product to their children, avoiding hands, eyes, and mouth. Use products that contain permethrin on clothing. Treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents. It remains protective through several washings. Pre-treated clothing is available and remains protective for up to 70 washings.

–         by wearing long pants and socks,

–         by performing tick checks and promptly removing ticks after outdoor activity. Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that are crawling on you.

–         Conduct a full-body tick check using a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body upon return from tick-infested areas. Parents should check their children for ticks under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist, and especially in their hair.

–         Examine gear and pets. Ticks can ride into the home on clothing and pets, then attach to a person later, so carefully examine pets, coats, and day packs. Tumble clothes in a dryer on high heat for an hour to kill remaining ticks.

Be extra vigilant in warmer months (April-September) when ticks are most active.

Sources:

http://nwahomepage.com/fulltext?nxd_id=367332
http://www.newsnet5.com/dpp/news/health/medical-lone-star-tick-makes-people-allergic-to-red-meat#ixzz271ZWCVYi

Severe Food Allergies at Back-to-School Time

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WUSA)– Here’s something to think about as another school year gets underway: of the six million kids who have food allergies in the U.S., as many as one in four have their first reaction at school.  Now there’s an effort to make sure teachers and other school staffers know how to use life-saving EpiPens (syringes pre-filled with epinephrine).

At school, children can be exposed to dozens and dozens of different foods.  Even with vigilance about allergen-free tables in the cafeteria and keeping kids’ lunches separate, thousands of severe reactions happen each year.  Many adults are unable or unsure how to help.

Dr. D.J. Sherzer, MD, an emergency medicine specialist with Nationwide Children’s Hospital says, “Approximately half of those people actually had epinephrine in the vicinity.   It was available to them, it just wasn’t used or it wasn’t used in time.”

Dr. Sherzer says adults may feel intimidated about injecting a child, so teaching school staffers how to use EpiPens in an emergency is paramount.

Dr. Robert Wood, M.D.  is director of pediatric allergy and immunology at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.  He says he’s seen the same lack of epinephrine usage in a study of pre-schoolers.  Seventy percent of the children who had a life-threatening food allergy reaction were not given the shot by parents or caregivers.

Dr. Wood says, “Even though the medicine was available to them, it wasn’t given.   And that’s typical because people are scared to give the medicine, or in the panic of the attack, they are not sure what to do.”

Dr. Wood says some adults give an oral antihistamine like Benadryl, in hopes that it will reverse the reaction.  But in the case of anaphylaxis (airway swelling and the inability to breathe), this will not work, and death can be the result.

How to use EpiPen watch  this video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgvnt8YA7r8