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.

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Molds – Are They Good or Bad?

Penicilliummandarijntjes

Molds are definitely bad for those who suffer from mold allergies. The presence of molds are often invisible and undetectable. After pollens, molds are the leading cause of airborne allergies, which can recur year-round.

Molds can be found almost everywhere, indoors and outdoors. They are always present in the air and on objects. They grow best in warm, damp, and humid conditions, and spread and reproduce by producing spores. These spores than move via air currents or they may cling to insects, animals or water.

When cold and dry conditions do not enable growth to take place, molds may remain alive in a dormant state for a long time.

Molds grow from dead or living objects. It is unknown how many species of fungi exist, but estimates range from tens of thousands to perhaps 300,000 or more.

Conidiophores of molds of the genus Aspergillu...Molds are made of microscopic threads or filaments. These threads are called hyphe. A vast collection of hyphe is called a mycelium. Visual inspections (when the colonies large enough for the naked eye) and smell are two important senses to detecting the presence of mold.

Outdoor molds can be found in humid environments, in shady, damp areas or places where leaves or other vegetation is decomposing. Mold can live on soil, plants, rotting wood, or dead leaves and various moist surfaces. Mold cannot grow under the sun’s ultraviolet light.  Outdoor molds usually bothering allergy sufferers from spring to late fall, and mold counts tend to pick in the afternoon (not in the morning like pollens).

Indoors molds can be present where humidity levels are high, such as basements, kitchen, bathrooms, refrigerators, in areas with poor ventilation, moist carpets, and house plants. Most molds need 24-48 hours of moisture to begin to grow. Therefore if a suitable material in your home is wet for more than 24 hours then you run the risk of mold starting to grow.

English: Blue Stilton PDO Cheese, one quarter ...Some molds are beneficial for us. Molds play an important role in certain fermentation process in food production. We eat molds in our cheese, yogurt, soy sauce, wine and beer, mushrooms, vinegar, pickles, dried fruits, foods containing yeast (like bread), pickled and smoked meats and fish, canned juice. Some cheese and sausages (such as salami), use starter cultures in their production, to improve flavor and reduce spoilage during curing.

Red rice yeast is a product of the mold grown on rice, and is common in Asian diets. The yeast contains monacolins, which are known to inhibit cholesterol synthesis. We also use mold as antibiotics to cure diseases. Penicillin for example, is derived from the mold Penicillium.

The three mechanism for disease caused by molds are infection, allergy, and toxicity.

The antibiotic penicillin  (from Penicillium)), and several cholesterol-lowering drugs (such as Lovastatin, from Aspergillus terreus) are derived from molds.

Some molds produce mycotoxins. Extended or high exposure of mycotoxins can lead to neurological problems, even death. On the other hand low doses of mycotoxins can be beneficial for humans, e.g. Penicillin to fight off infection.

Allergy symptoms caused by mold are watery, itchy eyes, a chronic cough, sinus problems, nasal blockage, frequent sneezing, rashes, conjunctivitis, inability to concentrate, difficulty breathing, fatigue. Symptoms usually disappear when the mold is removed.

Factors contribute to increasing mold counts:

  • Poor housekeeping practice (leaving      dirty dishes, food, cloth and wet towels lying around the house, keeping      trash in the house, and infrequent house cleaning.)
  • Using ceiling fans instead of air      conditions because humidity is not removed from the air. Inefficient      filters used in the heating/cooling system allow dirt to accumulate which      provide “food” for mold.

Preventing moisture from accumulating is the most important principle in mold control for allergy sufferers. The best way to get rid of mold indoors is by keeping room temperatures within 65° – 70°F and the relative humidity level within 45%-65%.

Charcoal and /or baking soda is a good practice to remove the odor of the  mold. Just place bowls of baking soda in the area to absorb odor.

To clean up mold in the house, best chemicals are; Bleach, borax, vinegar, ammonia.