What You Need to Know About Anaphylaxis

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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.

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New Target Discovered To Treat Food Allergy

English: Structure of the PIM1 protein. Based ...

Structure of the PIM1 protein.

Researchers have discovered a new target towards food allergy treatment announced in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

The finding shows that the level of a small intestine enzyme called “Pim1 kinase” is higher in mice that suffer from peanut allergy. Blocking activity of Pim1 seems to reduce the allergic response to peanuts.

According to recent statistics, around 4% of Americans suffer from food allergy. Symptoms can range from hives, vomiting, difficulty breathing to the severe anaphylaxis. Consuming peanuts, their proteins enter into the bloodstream via the intestines and cause an immune response those who have peanut allergy.

Dr. Erwin Gelfand, chair of pediatrics at National Jewish Health says, “Pim1, and its associated transcription factor, Runx3 mRNA, play a crucial role in allergic reactions to peanuts”.

Dr. Gelfand’s laboratory research has shown that the Pim1 increases upon allergen sensitization and is responsible for the downregulation of Runx3. The study shows in mice that the upregulation of Runx3 can be alter by inhibiting Pim1 kinase. This strategy essentially reduce allergic reaction in mice.

PIM-1 kinase contributes to several signaling pathways and is expressed in T cells and eosinophils, type of cells associated with allergic diseases. Runx3 is linked with the regulation of T cells.

Allergic mice, that consumed peanuts, had increased levels of Pim1 enzyme in their intestines, as well as higher levels of inflammatory cells, and cytokine molecules that are associated to allergies. However, levels of Runx3 were dropped significantly in the allergic mice. When researchers administered a small molecule called AR460770, the activity of PIM-1 kinase was blocked and mice did not experience diarrhea and other peanut allergy related symptoms.

The main culprit of allergic reaction is the enhanced level of  histamine in the plasma. After administration of AR460770, made by Array Biophama, the histamine level fell to about baseline levels and Runx3 mRNA increased almost back to baseline levels. Upregulating Runx3 by targeting Pim1 kinase represent a new way for treating allergic diseases.

Our data identified for the first time that Pim1 kinase contributes in important ways to the development of peanut-induced allergic responses. Targeting this novel regulatory axis involving Pim1 kinase and Runx3 offers new therapeutic opportunities for the control of food-induced allergic reactions.”- said Dr. Gelfand.