Beware of Holiday Season Allergies

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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

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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:

Sun exposure may decrease the risk of Food Allergies, Asthma and Eczema

Sunlight Feed

Sunlight

People living in areas with lower levels of sunlight are more likely to develop food allergies, asthma and aczema than those in areas with plenty of sunshine, according to a new scientific study.

The research was led by Dr. Nick Osborne from the European Centre for Environment & Human Health. He used data from analysis of Australian children and how rates of food allergies, eczema and asthma varied throughout the country. He believes these findings provide us with an important insight into the prevalence of food allergies and eczema, which appear to be on the increase.

Australia is an excellent place for this type of study as it spans nearly 3000 miles from north to south, with a large variation in climate, day length and sun strength. On average children in the south of the country were twice as likely to develop eczema as those in the north. There was also a link between latitude and allergies to peanuts and eggs. The report suggests that exposure to the sun may play a role in rising levels of food allergy and eczema.

Researchers pointed to exposure to sunlight as the cause for the findings. Generally speaking the further south or north from the equator you live the higher the incidence of developing food allergy or eczema.  People who live in sunnier climates – closer to the equator – get more sunshine on a daily basis.

Always, care has to be taken we are not exposed to too much sunlight, increasing the risk of skin cancer- warned Dr.Osborn.

Sunlight is the body’s greatest source for vitamin D. Researchers say that deficiency of vitamin D could be involved in the increase in asthma and allergies. Vitamin D could lower the risk of asthma in children by up to 40 per cent, according to a new report.

The theory is that people due to modern lifestyle spend more time indoors with less sunlight exposure  – travelling in cars rather than walking, for example – as well as the widespread use of sunscreen. These habits have led to the decreased production of vitamin D in the skin of many people.

In fact, by some estimates, around half of the world’s population is vitamin D deficient. For the body to make vitamin D, the skin needs to be exposed to light. At most latitudes, you can get enough vitamin D simply by spending 15 or so minutes in the sunshine everyday without wearing sunscreen; at extreme latitudes, the atmosphere filters more of the UV out and you need longer exposure. Vitamin D supplements are also available.

Sources:

Journal of Allergy and clinical Immunology

Science Daily

http://www.pcmd.ac.uk/news.php?id=310

Raising awareness for food allergy is crucial

English: Food types likely to cause allergic r...

Life can be difficult with allergy.

Food allergies are a growing health concern. As many as 6 million children in the U.S. are affected and food allergies are more common and more danger than ever before.

Kids can be born with food allergies but most of the time it is acquired. Many food allergies in children are mild and fade over time. They can outgrow selected food allergies, but peanuts, tree nuts, and shellfish allergies usually last a lifetime.

There is NO CURE for allergies.

There is NO MEDICATION available to prevent reactions.

AVOIDANCE  of food is the ONLY way to prevent a reaction:

–          be aware of the foods being eaten

–          read ingredients label

–          speak up when going out to eat

–          educate yourself

Symptoms of Food Allergies can include various degrees of the following:

–          Hives

–          Flushed skin or rash

–          Tingling or itchy sensation in the mouth

–          Swelling of the face, tongue, or lip

–          Vomiting and/or Diarrhea

–          Abdominal cramps

–          Coughing or wheezing

–          Dizziness and/or light headedness

–          Swelling of the throat and vocal cords

–          Difficulty breathing

–          Loss of consciousness

Over 150 foods can cause allergic reactions, but 90% of all emergency situations involve just 8 specific food items:

    • Milk
    • Eggs
    • Tree nuts (e.g., almonds, walnuts, pecans)
    • Peanuts
    • Fish
    • Shellfish (e.g. crab, lobster, shrimp)
    • Wheat
    • Soybeans

The most severe reaction to a food allergy is the anaphylaxis.  Anaphylaxis is a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction which including:

    • A dangerous drop in blood pressure
    • A constriction of the airways in the lungs
    • Suffocation by swelling of the throat

TRIGGER food allergy short film:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nnwczy3_IFg

TRIGGER is a not for profit awareness campaign. Please help protect food allergy sufferers by watching and sharing the information provided.

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Hidden Ingredients In Processed Food Can Be Fatal – Food allergy Alert!

52 Weeks - Week 5 - Food Allergy and Intoloren...

A college student, Emma Egerton, 18, ordered a Chicken Tikka Korma from Spice of India in Greater Manchester, through the Just Eat takeaway online website.

The police chief’s daughter was killed by a chicken curry from her local takeaway after she suffered a massive allergic reaction because a nuts warning was left off the menu.

Just Eat is a UK-based online takeaway website that connects customers to some 25,000 food outlets across Europe, allowing them to form a personal directory of menus and choose their favorite restaurant, place an order and select from pick-up or delivery options.

Most restaurants do not know about food allergies. Just a few of them process and cater food for food allergy sufferers, others are unaware of it. Some restaurant owners and staff not even know how dangerous a food allergy can be.

Many restaurants fry the meat, vegetables, even fish or shrimp in the same oil.

No courses have yet been organized to educate the industry on the allergy related cooking procedures. Restaurants should add nut warning signs next to the dishes on the menu that contain nuts, to help consumers.

Food allergies are not rare at all, and should not be underestimated! Food allergy is a growing public health concern. In fact, it is estimated that 150 to 200 Americans die each year because of allergic reactions to food  – according to the FDA.

  • As many as 15 million people have food allergies in the U.S.
  • An estimated 9 million, or 4% of adults have food allergies.
  • Nearly 6 million or 8% of children have food allergies with young children affected most.

The prevalence of food allergies and associated anaphylaxis appears to be on the rise.

  • According to a study released in 2008 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about an 18% increase in food allergy was seen between 1997 and 2007.
  • The prevalence of peanut allergy among children appears to have tripled between 1997 and 2008.

To reduce the risks, FDA is working to ensure that major allergenic ingredients in food are accurately labeled. Since 2006, food labels must state clearly whether the food contains a major food allergen. The following are considered to be major food allergens:

Milk, Eggs, Peanuts, Tree nuts ( such as almonds, walnuts, and pecans), Soybeans, Wheat, Fish, Shellfish (such as crab, lobster, and shrimp).

These foods account for 90 percent of all food allergies in the United States.

So, remember to take all measures to protect yourself and your family members who suffer from food allergies. In addition to avoiding food items that cause a reaction, we recommend that you:

  • Wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace stating that you have a food allergy
  • Carry an auto-injector device containing epinephrine ( adrenaline).
  • Seek medical help immediately if you experience a  food allergic reaction.

The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) was passed by Congress to ensure that there would be clearer labeling of food for the millions of people with food allergies. As of January 01, 2006, all food products regulated by the FDA must be labeled in a specific way to identify the eight major food allergens.

For a look at the complete law, visit:

fda.gov/Food/LabelingNutrition/FoodAllergensLabeling/GuidanceCompliance
RegulatoryInformation/ucm106187.htm

Walk for Food Allergy

Have you ever participated in a Walk for Food Allergy event? Have you ever asked somebody why they walk? They walk, because they know or love someone with food allergies. They walk because they want raise funds to help the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) to educate the public and find a cure for food allergies. They walk to save a life!

Food allergy afflicts as many as 15 million Americans including about 6 million children.

FAAN is a non-profit organization provides information and educational resources about food allergy to patients, their families, schools, health professionals, pharmaceutical companies, the food industry, and government officials.

Walk for Food Allergy events, which have raised more than $14 million for education, research, advocacy, and awareness programs since 2004, bring together families, educators, healthcare professionals, and corporate partners. Training materials for schools and restaurants, clinical studies such as oral immunotherapy, and community outreach grants are just a few of the programs that have been funded as a result of FAAN’s Walk for Food Allergy.  FAAN has set a goal to raise at least $2.4 million through its Walks in 2012.

Findings from research studies have been used to change federal and state laws, improve the daily lives of individuals with food allergy, raise public awareness, improve school policies, and provide education for patients, caregivers, and health professionals.

The Walk for Food Allergy will be held in the following cities:

Come join us for the 2012 FAAN Walk for Food Allergy.

Sept. 16 Pittsburgh, PA
Nashville, TN
Sept. 22 Austin, TX
Lansing, MI
Northern Virginia, VA
Sept. 23 Baltimore, MD
Boston, MA
Columbus, OH
Sept. 29 Charlotte, NC
Portland, ME
Triangle Area, NC
Sept. 30 Chicago, IL
Seattle, WA
Oct. 6 Detroit, MI
Las Vegas, NV
Salt Lake City, UT
Oct. 7 Miami, FL
Milford, CT
Oct. 13 California Bay Area, CA
Oct. 14 Lincoln, NE
Atlanta, GA
Long Island, NY
Oct. 21 Ridgewood, NJ
Los Angeles, CA
Nov. 3 San Diego, CA
Nov. 10 Tampa, FL
Virginia Beach, VA
Nov. 17 Dallas, TX
Dec. 1 Phoenix-Tempe, AZ

You can also sign up for a walk in your area, if you are interested.

Find out the nearest events to you: http://www.foodallergywalk.org/site/PageServer?pagename=walk_locations_by_state