Ask your smart phone to detect food allergens in your food.

A hoodie with the University of California, Lo...

Researchers have developed a new device – called iTube – which is able to detect food allergens in food samples. This lightweight attachment to smart phones is recently the lighter, merely two ounces (less than 60 g), portable allergen testing device. The attachment analyzes the allergen concentration levels. The test is also known as colorimetric assay. The iTube platform can test for a variety of allergens, including peanuts, almonds, gluten, eggs, hazelnuts.

Food allergies affect 8 percent of children and 2 percent of adults. Food allergy can be severe, even life-threatening (anaphylaxis).  While laws regulate the labeling of ingredients in packaged foods, cross-contamination can still cause severe allergic reactions. Cross-contamination can occur during processing, manufacturing, and transportation. It is especially difficult to detect the presence of a special allergens in foods at dinner parties or in restaurants.

There are already allergy testing devices on the market but they are complex, bulky equipments, impractical for public settings.

iTube holds a lot of promises for future applications, according to the researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Henry Samuely  School of Engineering and Applied Science.

How does iTube work?

iTube along with a smartphone application that runs the test, uses the cell phone’s built-in camera to convert images into concentration measurements detected in food samples. The test demonstrates the amount of the allergens with the same high level of sensitivity a laboratory would. The results show exactly how many parts per million allergens from e.g. eggs, peanuts, gluten, nuts are in the sample. The test however takes a little while: about 20 minutes to get the results, and the food requires some preparation. The food sample initially needs to be ground up and mixed with hot water and a solvent. After the sample has set for a few minutes, it is mixed in a step-by-step procedure with a series of reactive testing liquids. After about this 20 minute preparation the sample is ready to be measured for allergen concentration through the cell phone’s camera and iTube app. The iTube not only shows whether an allergen is present in the sample but also gives the concentration in parts per million of the allergen.

The UCLA team successfully tested the iTube on different packages of cookies. The results  determined if they had any harmful amounts of peanuts in the sample. Their research was recently published online in the peer-reviewed journal Lab on a Chip.

“We envision that this cell phone-based allergen testing platform could be very valuable, especially for parents, as well as for schools, restaurants, and other public settings,” says Aydogan Ozcan, leader of the research team and a UCLA associate professor of electrical engineering and bioengineering.

The results of the tests can be tagged with time and location as well as can be uploaded directly from the smart phone to the iTube server which could provide  information for other allergy-sufferers around the world. A statistical database of different allergies linked to geographic areas could be useful for future determination of food-related polices researchers said.

Another team of researchers from  Purde University have also processed a new application for travelers suffering from allergies to obtain instant (0.09 seconds) allergen results from food samples without any Internet connection or server. This device is not available yet.

 

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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.

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.

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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.

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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Auvi-Q™, First Voice-Guided Epinephrine Auto-Injector For Patients With Life-Threatening Allergies, Receives FDA Approval

Breakthrough device design talks patients and caregivers through the injection process

Sanofi (EURONEXT: SAN and NYSE: SNY) have announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Auvi-Q (epinephrine injection, USP) for the emergency treatment of life-threatening allergic reactions in people who are at risk for or have a history of anaphylaxis. Auvi-Q is the first-and-only compact epinephrine auto-injector with audio and visual cues that guide patients and caregivers step-by-step through the injection process.

Sanofi US licensed the North American commercialization rights to Auvi-Q from Intelliject, Inc., which has retained commercialization rights
for the rest of the world.

“As a company committed to patient-centered care, our focus is on creating innovative solutions that make a difference in the lives of people,” said Anne Whitaker, President, North America Pharmaceuticals, Sanofi. “Auvi-Q delivers on this by offering a state-of-the-art epinephrine auto-injector device that addresses the needs of patients at risk for life-threatening allergic reactions and their caregivers.”

While recently updated guidelines emphasize the importance of the life-saving role of epinephrine, surveys showed that two-thirds of patients and caregivers do not carry their epinephrine auto-injectors as recommended and nearly half worry that others will not know how to use their device during an emergency.

“With this FDA approval, Auvi-Q will become the first-and-only epinephrine auto-injector that talks users through each step of the injection process,” said Bryan Downey, Vice President, Auvi-Q, Sanofi US. “We are confident that Auvi-Q will provide the up to six million Americans at risk for anaphylaxis and their caregivers an easy-to-use, compact option with unique features to help manage a life-threatening allergic reaction.”

Auvi-Q contains epinephrine, a well-established, first-line treatment for severe, life-threatening allergic reactions that may occur as a result of exposure to allergens including nuts, shellfish, dairy, eggs, insect bites, latex and medication, among other allergens.

“The first step in preventing a severe allergic reaction is always avoidance of the specific allergen,” said Dr. Vivian Hernandez-Trujillo, a pediatric allergist and national expert in anaphylaxis.”However, in the event of a life-threatening allergic reaction, it’s important to know how to respond quickly. Auvi-Q offers patients and caregivers guidance through the injection process.”

About Auvi-Q

Auvi-Q (epinephrine injection, USP) is used to treat life-threatening allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) in people who are at risk for or have a history of these reactions. Auvi-Q is the size and shape of a credit card, the thickness of a cell phone and fits comfortably in a pocket or small purse.

During a life-threatening allergic reaction, Auvi-Q talks the user through each step of the injection process. If the patient or caregiver needs more time, it repeats the step-by-step directions. Alternatively, a patient or caregiver can move at their own pace by following the written instructions printed on the device.

        Indication

Auvi-Q (epinephrine injection, USP) is indicated in the emergency  treatment of allergic reactions (Type I) including anaphylaxis to allergens, idiopathic  and exercise-induced anaphylaxis. Auvi-Q is intended for individuals with a history of anaphylaxis or who are at risk for anaphylactic reactions.

        Important Safety Information

Auvi-Q should ONLY be injected into the anterolateral aspect of  the thigh. DO NOT INJECT INTO BUTTOCK OR INTRAVENOUSLY.

Epinephrine should be administered with caution to patients with certain heart diseases,  and in patients who are on medications that may sensitize the heart to arrhythmias, because it may precipitate or aggravate angina pectoris and produce ventricular arrhythmias. Arrhythmias, including fatal ventricular fibrillation, have been reported  in patients with underlying cardiac disease or taking cardiac glycosides or diuretics. Patients with certain medical conditions or who take certain medications for allergies, depression, thyroid disorders, diabetes, and hypertension, may be at greater risk for adverse reactions. Adverse reactions to epinephrine include anxiety, apprehensiveness, restlessness, tremor, weakness, dizziness, sweating, palpitations, pallor, nausea  and vomiting, headache, and/or respiratory difficulties.

Auvi-Q is intended for immediate self-administration as emergency supportive therapy  only and is not a substitute for immediate medical or hospital care.

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088

Definition of allergy

                                                                                                                     

Allergies are among the most common of medical disorders.  It is estimated that 60 million Americans, or more than one in every five
people, suffer from some form of allergy.

An allergy is a hypersensitivy disorder of the immune system.

How do you get allergies? Scientists think both genes and the environment have something to do with it.  Normally, your immune system fights germs. It is your body’s defense system. In most allergic reactions, however, it is responding to a false alarm.

Allergies occur when your immune system reacts to a foreign substance such as pollen, bee venom or pet dander.  A substance that causes a reaction is called an allergen. These reactions are acquired, predictable, and rapid.

Your immune system produces substances known as antibodies. Some of these antibodies protect you from unwanted invaders that could make you sick or cause an infection. When you have allergies, your immune system makes antibodies that identify your particular allergen as something harmful, even though it isn’t. When you come into contact with the allergen, your immune system’s reaction inflames your skin, sinuses, airways or digestive system.

The severity of allergies varies from person to person and can range from minor irritation to anaphylaxis — a potentially life-threatening emergency. While allergies can’t be cured, a number of treatments can help relieve your allergy symptoms.

Mild allergies like hay fever are very common in the human population, and cause symptoms, such as red eyes, itchiness, and runny nose, eczema, hives, or an asthma attack. In some people, severe allergies to environmental or dietary allergens or to medication may result in life-threatening reactions called anaphylaxis. Food allergies, and reactions to the venom of stinging insects are often associated with these severe reactions.

A variety of tests exist to diagnose allergic conditions. These include placing possible allergens on the skin and looking for a reaction such as swelling. Blood tests can also be done to look for an allergen-specific IgE.

Treatments for allergies include avoiding known allergens, use of medications such as anti-histamines that specifically prevent allergic reactions, steroids that modify the immune system in general, and medications such as decongestants that reduce the symptoms. Many of these medications are taken by mouth, though epinephrine, which is used to treat anaphylactic reactions, is injected. Immunotherapy uses injected allergens to desensitize the body’s response.

Allergic diseases are more common in industrialized countries than in agricultural countries , and there is a higher rate of allergic disease in urban populations versus rural populations.