Cold Allergy, Allergy, and Cold. What Makes Them Different?

100_6641It seems that many people in the world are affected by cold and allergy. During the mornings or evenings, you tend to have sneezing along with a blocked nose. You may not know whether you are suffering from an ordinary cold or from an allergy. This is when you need to differentiate between a common cold and an allergy. The symptoms can be very similar, but they are completely different afflictions, so their treatments are also different.

Symptoms and treatments 

Common symptoms might include cough, fatigue, sneezing, sore throat, running nose, stuffy nose. Usually aches, pain, fever, and thick yellow/greenish nasal discharge aren’t an indication of allergies just as itchy eyes don’t indicate a cold.

· Colds are caused by viruses. Their treatments are usually rest, pain relievers, decongestants, over-the-counter medications.

· Allergies are immune system responses triggered by one or more specific allergen. The best things you can do is to avoid the exposure to allergens if possible.  Treatments of  seasonal allergies are antihistamines (prescription or over-the-counter), decongestants, nasal steroid sprays.

What is cold allergy ?

Cold allergy, Cold Urticaria or cold hives is an allergy. This kind of allergy affects the skin, causing hives (urticaria) or red welts to form on the skin due to the exposure to a cold stimulus. The hives are usually itchy. Most often they show up on the hands and feet where they can cause swelling as well. When hives form, the fluid from the capillaries flows out into the surrounding tissues causing them to swell up. Hives come in different sizes. If the disease becomes chronic the hives can last for weeks. The Cold Urticaria can be inherited or caught.

What are the symptoms of Cold Urticaria?

When the body is exposed to the cold, hives occur on the skin on the affected area. Hives usually last from a few minutes to a few days. You usually get an irritating, burning sensation through your skin as if bees are stinging you. Severe reaction, when the hives form very fast, usually within less than 3 minutes of exposure, can be life-threatening (anaphylactic shock).

How to diagnose Cold allergy?

The allergist performs a cold test. During the procedure a piece of ice is held against the forearm usually for 2-3 minutes. The result is positive if red hives are raised on the contacted area.

How to Treat Cold Hives

The most important treatment is to stay warm. To control the condition, you should avoid exposure to cold temperatures or warm up immediately after the exposure. Hot water on the affected area or a warmer environment does not improve the condition, but helps prevent it from worsening. If the hives already formed, the warming up afterwards may cause the hives to go away faster.

According to some home remedies some vegetable shortening or butter applied on the affected area may reduce the risk of eruption of the hives. Good idea here would be to reduce the inflammation in your body. Usually, the doctors prescribe Antihistamines. Topical antihistamine creams may also provide some temporary relief.

Some studies suggest that Cold Urticaria has been linked to a gluten intolerance and gluten free diets have helped some Cold Urticaria sufferers. Hives formation is also assumed to be due to food allergies, asthma, environmental changes, and eczema.

The causes of hives are still under investigation.

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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

An Outlook: Colon Cancer And Allergy

English: Micrograph of a colorectal adenocarci...

Micrograph of a colorectal adenocarcinoma metastasis to a lymph node, also lymph node metastasis. The cancer (forming glands) is seen at the centre-top. Adipose tissue is present on the upper right.

A new research suggests that people who suffer from hay fever and asthma are at lower risk of colon cancer. Before we know more about this research, let us first know about these health conditions.

Colon cancer (or colorectal cancer): It is an uncontrolled growth of cells affecting areas of colon, large intestine, rectum, or in the appendix. Rectal bleeding and thin (thread-like) stools are typical symptoms of colon cancer. Age, certain diseases (such as ulcerative colitis) and genetic causes contribute to it.

Allergy: In some people, there can be an “unusual” sensitivity towards a normally harmless material that induces a strong reaction by the person. Typical allergies are related to certain food or medication, smell and exposure to skin. Atopy is the medical word that describes the state of allergy, where there is a tendency to react to allergens, as in hay fever and asthma. 

Hay fever is an allergic inflammation that occurs in the nasal airways. It is caused by grass pollens or plant pollens (pollinosis). Hay fever is not caused by hay and does not exhibit symptoms of fever. 

Asthma: Asthma is a disease affecting the respiratory system, caused usually by allergies. It has symptoms of coughing, tight feeling in the chest and sudden difficulty in breathing. 

Does hay fever and asthma affect colon cancer ? 

A recent study finds that people who suffer both from hay fever and asthma are at lesser risk of colon cancer. The study reports that people suffering from both, hay fever and asthma, were 17% less likely to acquire colon cancer compared to people who had neither of the two conditions. People having either of the two conditions had little reduction in their risk of colon cancer. The finding is according to data presented at the 11th Annual AACR International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research, held in Anaheim, California, October 16-19, 2012.

Hay fever and asthma are diseases that are related to allergic responses of the body, and this new theory says that they also affect the allergic response towards colon cancer cells. More research is ongoing with this new finding, and if a natural immune response can prevent some colorectal cancers, vaccines can be made to treat and prevent them.

This new finding may help us in the development of vaccine for the treatment of colon cancer, and for that it needs to be understood the factors that affects and lowers the risk of colon cancer, e.g. how the immune system is responsive towards cancer cells in such cases. Exercising regularly and a healthy diet might help people to improve their immune system response to prevent cancer.

Why Global Warming Makes Allergies even worse?

Temperature predictions from some climate mode...

Global warming and allergies are certainly linked together based upon scientific studies done on weeds, trees and grasses in recent years. As the temperature of the planet continues to rise, undoubtedly the amount of pollen will increase as well.

All over the world, people suffer from seasonal allergies on a regular basis. Not too long ago, people could predict when certain allergy seasons would occur, and could prepare accordingly. Now, for seemingly unknown reasons, allergy seasons are by far more potent than ever before. Recent studies have shown that pollen counts are higher, and allergy seasons seem to be longer than they have ever been in history.

Some theory blame the man-made increases in greenhouse gases which are responsible for warming the oceans by melting the polar ice cups, as well as the increase of global temperatures, freakish weather such as hurricanes and tsunamis and the increase growth of various plants(such as trees, weeds and grasses),all refer to as climate change.

Others are convinced that climate change in an inevitable cycle that the earth goes through and there is not man related. Anyway, there are measurable changes in the earth’s climate, which were responsible for the significant increase in allergic diseases in the past few decades.

Global warming has led to longer and warmer seasons, causing the trees and grasses to flower much earlier, thus more pollen is released at an earlier time. Some studies have shown that the season begins up to two weeks earlier and last longer than in previous decades. The increased pollen and mold spore counts increase the sensitization to allergy and will increase the allergy symptoms in those who already suffer from allergic diseases. Higher pollutant levels likely to cause worsening of asthma symptoms in affected people. Many studies have shown that with the rise in average daily temperatures, there is a rise in the rate of asthma and asthma symptoms. On days when pollen and mold count are higher, there is an increased emergency room visits for asthma.

The allergic rhinitis incidence in the United States population increased dramatically from 10 to 30 percent over the past 40 years. Similar increases were observed in westernized countries as Canada, and the rate of allergic rhinitis is expected to increase by 40% in Japan by 2050.

The global warming and allergy relation in not limited to seasonal allergies. The warming climate is also spreading the growing range of allergy-inducing plants into new areas of the world. Climate change means allergy season can last longer. Hotter summers make disease-carrying insects more active, for longer seasons; illnesses like West Nile, and Lyme are able to spread into new areas. Hotter weather reduces water supply and quality and diminishes food security. Heavy rains increase risk of drinking water contamination and illness.

Ragweed is one of the primary producers of pollen during the fall allergy seasons. Since 1995, the duration of this allergy season has increased by over 30 days, primarily in parts of North America.

Latest study pointed out that the excess CO2 now in the atmosphere stimulates the allergy-inducing ragweed to produce 60 percent more pollen. Scientists have found that carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere that have increased steadily over the last several decades may be to blame. Carbon dioxide level has increased by more than 20 % since 1960. Not only do the increased levels of CO2 cause the ragweed to produce greater amounts of pollen, it has been shown that it is much more potent than ever before, leaving allergy sufferers in more agony year after year.

What You Can Do

Global warming is something that is ongoing, and because of this, those that suffer from allergies need to learn how to adapt. Check daily pollen reports and ozone quality conditions especially on sunny, clear, windless late summer days when ozone conditions usually high. If you have distinct breathing problems caused by pollen producing weeds, trees, or grasses, it is best to stay indoors on days where pollen content in the air is at its highest. Air quality conditions are posted daily by many services, giving you the information when it is best to go outside, and when you should stay in. When pollen and ozone levels are high better to stay indoors, keep windows closed. Take shower and wash bedding and outdoor clothing frequently, vacuum regularly using vacuum cleaner with high-efficiency particulate (HEPA) filter.

You should also consider talking to your local physician, as they will have certain remedies that can help you deal with the higher pollen amounts.

Do you get the right medical care for your allergy?

A patient receiving a skin allergy test.

The prevalence of allergic diseases is growing dramatically by hitting about 30-40% of the population worldwide. The allergic diseases became a major healthcare problem today and the forecast is that allergic problems will increase further as air pollution and the temperature increase.

In spite of the epidemic prevalence of allergic diseases just a few countries have comprehensive services. Most services are not specialized for allergies and only organ-based care available. Since most patients with allergic diseases have symptoms in multiple organs (e.g. allergic rhinitis, conjunctivitis and asthma), these kind of care are not comprehensive, the patients often are not being appropriately diagnosed and treated.

An adequate standard of care must be lead by allergy specialists. The lack of that special service leads to avoidable deaths and it increases the cost to health care system and national budgets. According to the World Allergy Organization (WAO), the estimated deaths through asthma are about 250,000 each year worldwide. This is why it is  important that a well-trained physician identify the allergens, so the patient have a chance to avoid it. A trained physician can prescribe appropriate medications or even an allergen immunotherapy, a highly effective treatment currently restricted to only a few centers of care throughout the world. The most important consideration in allergy practice is to find the cause and prevent, not just suppress the symptoms.

The WAO White Book on Allergies 2011-2012 issued by World Allergy Organization urges the increase of public awareness of allergic diseases. According to the WAO the allergic diseases should be recognized as a global public health problem and greater efforts made towards their prevention and treatment as well as the extended training of healthcare professionals. Doing this, a more integrated approach to the diagnosis and management of all allergic diseases becomes practicable.  The trained healthcare professionals should be educating patients who suffer from allergies, and be focused toward increased public awareness.

The WAO provides advanced care through education, research and training as a worldwide alliance of allergy and clinical immunology societies. The organization includes 84 society members and organizations recently, which endeavor to increase the global awareness of allergy and asthma as a major public health problem.

WAO support the global allergy community by planning and organizing wide range of events and activities such as World Allergy Week, Walk for Allergies. The organization offers research associations, surveys and analysis for disease causation and management. Educational outreach programs are offered to member societies and health care professionals throughout the world. The program also helps establish new allergy societies to develop and support national allergy services, conduct allergy training schools, and provide educational resources in underserved countries.

 

Source:

WAO White Book on Allergy 2011-2012

The recently issued book by Word Allergy Organization cover all aspects of allergic diseases, such as prevalence and treatment, unmet needs, and future therapies.

http://www.worldallergy.org

Stinging Nettle – This Undervalued Herb May Relief Allergy Symptoms

Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica). Picture by Gi...

Singing nettle has been used for hundreds of years to strengthening the body and treating diseases. It has been found beneficial for the relief of allergies such as asthma, hay fever, hives and other allergic dermatitis. Stinging nettle may ease symptoms like sneezing, nasal congestion, and itching by reducing inflammation.

Stinging nettle is also widely used today to treat urinary problems (urinary tract infections), early stage of enlarged prostate (BPH), hay fever (allergic rhinitis), painful muscle and joint conditions, and insect bites.

The benefits of the herb are due to a combination of several of the different components that may have pain-relieving, anti-inflammatory analgesic, numbing, antiviral, and antibacterial effects.

Stinging nettle has many stinging hairs on its leaves and stems which injecting histamin and other irritating chemicals into the skin when it is touched.

The mixture of the chemical compounds that cause the painful sting are:

Acetylcholine (a neurotransmitter in the nervous system)

Histamine, which occurs naturally in the body, is the culprits behind allergic reactions. When you are exposed to allergens your body releases histamine, which in turn causes hives, constricts bronchial vessels, and inflames the skin. The histamine in nettle attaches to histamine receptor sites in your cells and keep your body’s histamines from attaching to those cells during an allergic reaction. Nettle’s action is very similar to that of pharmaceutical antihistamine drugs, says Stanley W. Beyrle, N.D., a naturopathic doctor at the Kansas Clinic of Traditional Medicine in Wichita.

Serotonin (5-HT) is a neurotransmitter- thought to be a contributor to feelings of well-being and happiness. Also involved in the regulation of mood, appetite, and sleep and also have some cognitive function including memory and learning and act as antidepressants.

Moroidin is responsible for the long duration of the stings.

Leukotrienes are involved in asthmatic and allergic reactions and act to sustain inflammatory reactions. Leukotrienes also have a powerful effect in bronchoconstriction and increase vascular permeability, mediating inflammation; they induce asthma and other inflammatory disorders, thereby reducing the airflow to the alveoli.

Formic acid: found in the stings and bites of many insects (mainly ants). Major use of formic acid is as a preservative and antibacterial agent in livestock feed.

Do not take stinging nettle if you are taking medicine that prevents blood clots. Nettle leaves contain vitamin K. Nettle leaves also contain high level of iron, more than spinach, and are used in blood building. Nettle is rich in other minerals, such as chlorophyll, calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and the flavonoid quercitin ( a powerful antioxidant).

Nettles strengthen the entire metabolism. Nettles cleanse and detoxify the kidneys, while stimulating the liver. It also can be beneficial in lessening symptoms of PMS and menopause. Externally nettle is added to shampoos and skin creams.

Both the nettle tincture and the dried herb are used as a tea. The tea works best when one starts to drink two-plus cups daily about two months before allergy season begins. 1 teaspoon (5gms) to 1 cup of boiling water 3x a day is recommended. The tincture dose is two droppers-full three times a day for most adults during allergy season.

It is worth a try to eat fresh nettle leaves. They are great in salad. Pick them up using gloves and rub the leaves to each other before cut them. This method eliminates the leaves stinging effect. 

 

Sources:

Stinging nettle – wickipedia

Health Journal

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Proposed New Air-Pollution Standards.

The UThe EPA was directed to set standards for radi....S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed new standards for fine particulate matter (PM) pollution  to reduce soot in the air we breathe.

The White House recently modified the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposal to limit soot emissions, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post, inviting public comment on a slightly weaker standard than the agency had originally sought.

The EPA had originally wanted to tighten the annual exposure to fine-particle soot from 15 micrograms (µg) per cubic meter of air (this is the current legal limit) to 11 micrograms per cubic meter, but the Office of Management and Budget directed the EPA to make the limit between 12 and 13 micrograms per cubic meter of air.

Howard Feldman who directs regulatory and scientific affairs for the American Petroleum Institute told the Los Angeles Times that a more stringent standard would be expensive and be of little benefit.

The 12-13 µg is a less strict standard than many environmentalists wanted. A 2011 report by the American Lung Association, Clean Air Task Force, and Earthjustice suggested that A 2011 report by the American Lung Association, Clean Air Task Force, and Earthjustice suggested that a limit of 11 µg per cubic meter of air could prevent more than 35,000 premature deaths a year.

The World Health Organization estimates that 3% of all mortalities from cardiopulmonary disease worldwide are due to exposure to fine particles, as are 5% of lung cancer deaths.

Particle pollution, commonly referred to as “soot,” is one of the deadliest forms of air pollution. It is a complex mixture of extremely small particles and liquid droplets. Fine particles linked to a wide range of human health problems. Once inhaled they pass through the throat and nose , enter the lungs, the bloodstream and other organs, causes serious health effects. They worsen allergy, asthma, and other respiratory diseases.

Fine particles, 2.5 micrometers in diameter or smaller, can be directly emitted from sources such as forest fires, or from gases emitted from power plants, oil refineries, other heavy industries and automobiles which react in the air.

Cleaning fine PM from the air can help to reduce emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and lost productivity caused by asthma exacerbations.

A new study by a group of researchers at the University of California at Santa Barbara and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology suggests that curbing ozone could provide greater benefits than previously thought. The team looked at 20 states and the District of Columbia where power plants and boilers are required to limit nitrogen oxide pollution between May 1 and Sept. 30 each year. As a result, these states and the District cut prescription drug expenditures by 1.9 percent, or $900 million a year, and had 2,200 fewer annual premature deaths among individuals aged 75 or older, within the studied period from 2003 to 2008.

Particulate matter

standards are important to protecting the public’s health and current standards are inadequate.

AAFA urge everyone — especially those whose health is more likely to be compromised by pollution — to let EPA know that it should act to protect their health by issuing stronger standards to control particulate matter pollution.

AAFA post details online on how to comment at: www.aafa.org/advocacy.

Source:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/white-house-weakened-epa-soot-proposal-documents-show/2012/07/17/gJQANH3yrW_story.html

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OZufPT4IKM0&feature=colike

www.aafa.org/advocacy.

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

Dehydration Especially Harmful For People With Allergies.

Dehydration is bad for everyone, but it’s especially harmful for people with allergies and asthma. Dehydration may trigger or worsen asthma and increase your risk of respiratory infections. Keep in mind that you can double your benefits by “eating” your water in the form of water-rich fruits and vegetables. An apple or a tomatoe each contains about 4 ounces of water. Water, milk, juice, decaf coffee and tea (especially green tea), herbal tea, and soups all count toward your fluid quotient. By drinking as much water you can tolerate – even up to 20 glasses a day – you can help liquefy your mucous and help it drain better, suggest Wellington Tichenor, M.D., an allergist in New York City.

When researchers at the University of Buffalo studied the effects of dehydration on people with asthma, they found than it increases the risk of asthma attacks even in humid weather.

“No matter what, always drink plenty of water – at least 8 to 10 glasses a day – to keep secretions in your respir

atory tract fluid,” recommend Andrew Weil, M.D., director of the program in integrative medicine and clinical professor of medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tuscan. “Drinking plenty of water also speeds up the process of eliminating irritants and toxins from the body.”Individuals need different amount of water, however. In fact, the more you weight, the more water you lose. To determine how much water is optimal for you, follow these steps.

  1. Write down your weight in pounds.
  2. Multiply your weight by  .04 , which equals pounds of water lost.
  3. Multiply the result of step 2 by 2 to determine the number of cups you need per day.

You will need to drink extra water when weather conditions are hot or dry and when you exercise. In addition, remember that caffeine and alcohol sap as much water out of you as they put in. To keep yourself from getting parched, drink an extra 1/2 cup of water for every cup you drink caffeinated or alcoholic beverages..

References:

–  Allergy Free Naturally  by Rick Ansorge, Eric Metcalf and the Editors of Prevention Health Books / Rodale.

–  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dehydration