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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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.

Do You Get Enough Vitamin D?

Vitamin "D"

Vitamin “D”

Allergic diseases of almost all types have become much more common over the past few decades. Some experts link allergy diseases to vitamin D deficiency, which is extremely common today. Low levels of vitamin D have also been associated with osteoporosis, hypertension, diabetes and cancer.

Vitamin D appears to serves multiple important functions for the immune system. It acts to stimulate the immune system against various infections, may prevent diseases, controls cancer cells groth, regulates the blood pressure hormon, as well as prevent autoimmune diseases.

Recent studies suggest that vitamin D plays an important role in the prevention of various allergic diseases, by activating certain regulatory immune cells that prevent the release of chemicals (such as histamin) which cause and worsen allergic diseases.

Vitamin D is critically important for the maintenance of calcium metabolism. Calcium is required for every cells of our body to function in a healthy way. It is one of the most vital mineral in our body. Calcium is needed for strong bones, it used by nerves and muscles, and it also needs to proper blood clotting.

Unlike other vitamins, vitamin D can be made in our bodies as a result of exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D is an important nutrient and hormone. Most of it’s natural sources are animal-based, including oily fish, cod liver oil, egg yolks, cheese, fortified milk, and beef liver, mushrooms. For this reason, those, who follow a strict vegetarian diet have to pay more attention to get the recommended levels of the vitamin D over time.

It has been estimated that the body requires daily 3000-5000 IU of vitamin D. Healthy blood level of 25(OH)D is between 80-100 nmol/L. Dietary sources and vitamin D supplements can satisfy this requirements. Multivitamins typically contain 400 IU of vitamin D. Several manufacturers provide 1000 IU.

There can be a wide variation in the vitamin D content of the natural sources (e.g., farmed versus wild salmon). Cooking methods (e.g., frying versus baking) can also deplete the amount of vitamin D in foods. Therefore, most of the vitamin D that we consume comes from fortified foods (in the United States, some dairy products and breakfast cereals are fortified with vitamin D) and from supplements.

Vitamin D has been linked to immune system and lung development in fetus, and epidemiologic studies show that higher vitamin D intake by pregnant mothers reduces asthma risk by as much as 40% in children 3 to 5 years old. Providing adequate vitamin D supplementation in pregnancy may lead to significant decreases in asthma incidence in young children.

The findings, which are published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, suggest that increased exposure to sunlight could help to reduce children’s chances of developing food allergies and eczema. The finding suggests new ways to interact with the immune system.

We spend less time in the sun today than in any time before in the history. This is the reason why more than 1 billion people worldwide have vitamin D deficiency.

Sunlight is the best and only natural source of vitamin D. Unlike dietary or supplementary vitamin D, when you get your ‘D’ from sunshine        your body takes what it needs. Vitamin D experts and many health groups now advocate 1,000 to 2,000 IU of vitamin D daily which is five to ten times the old recommendations.

Nobody really knows for sure how much supplementary vitamin D is safe.

Vitamin D might be best obtained by getting a reasonable amount of sun exposure, such as 15 minutes a day between 10 AM and 3 PM as suggested by some experts. After this limited exposure should you apply a broad sprectum sunscreen.

So get outside and enjoy some sunshine on a regular basis. But like anything else, moderation is key so don’t overdo it.

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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