Showing posts with label food allergies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label food allergies. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Why are you experiencing a tough allergy season?

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, more than 45 million Americans suffer from seasonal allergies. Experts predict the 2014 spring/summer season will be particularly tough on allergy sufferers.  Read on for the reasons behind this difficult allergy season as well as ways to effectively manage allergy symptoms.

Why are experts predicting a bad allergy season?

According to and many experts, the record-setting snowfall and lingering below-freezing temperatures caused by the polar vortex during winter 2013-14 is to blame.

How is the polar vortex connected to allergies?

1. Extreme cold temperatures, lingering late into the spring, resulted in a delay in the flowering of trees, plants, and flowers.
2. Once temperatures finally warmed up, pollination had to play catch up, causing an abundance of pollen in the air.
3. Pollination of several allergens occurred at the same time this year, causing a mix of allergens for sufferers to battle.
4. Nicknamed the “pollen vortex,” this phenomenon makes for a tough season for allergy sufferers.
5. In addition, the rain that typically falls in the spring combined with already soggy grounds caused by melting snow resulted in excessive dampness and mold. These conditions cause difficulty for allergy and asthma sufferers.

Is there a link between seasonal allergies and certain foods?

Believe it or not, there can be a link between environmental allergies and the foods you consume, according to Dr. Joseph Leija, MD, an allergist who performs the Gottlieb Allergy Count, the official allergy count for the Midwest. When you’re aware of a particular allergy, below is a guide for foods to avoid:

Birch or oak: Avoid carrots, celery, almonds, apples, peaches, and pears
Grass: Avoid melon, tomatoes, and oranges
Ragweed: Avoid bananas, cantaloupe, cucumber, zucchini, and chamomile tea

What are the typical signs of allergies?

Difficulty breathing
Runny nose
Itchy throat

How are allergies treated?

Your healthcare provider might suggest a number of treatment options, depending upon the type and severity of your allergies. These include:

1. Oral medications and/or decongestants
2. Nasal sprays
3. Allergy shots

How can you help prevent or alleviate allergy symptoms?

Take a shower or wash your hair at night to remove trapped pollen that can aggravate allergies overnight.
Always wash your hands thoroughly after working outside.
Remove your shoes before walking indoors on carpeting to avoid spreading pollen and outside debris throughout the house.
Wipe down any pets that go outside with a warm, wet cloth before allowing them to come back indoors.
Use a saline solution daily to rinse your nostrils.
Keep windows closed to prevent allergens from coming indoors.
Use the air conditioner and air purifier to help control pollutants inside.

Additional hints for allergy sufferers:

*Consider an air purifier, especially in bedrooms, to help keep inside air clean.
*Work at managing stress in your life and maintaining overall good health, which can help your immune system handle allergy symptoms more efficiently.
*Stay informed regarding the newest developments in allergy management.
*Work with your healthcare provider to find solutions for managing allergies.

Despite the prediction of a difficult allergy season, you can take measures to help minimize the effect of allergies on your family members and enjoy a fun-filled season.

Be Wize & Be Healthy

Monday, February 3, 2014

How Do You Know When You Have a Food Allergy or Intolerance?

We're hearing about them more and more often: food allergies are on the rise in the U.S. And it’s not just among children, either. Adults suffer from them as well, and as we understand more about inflammation in the body, more people are realizing that certain foods make them feel worse, regardless of how great they taste.

But how do you know whether you have a food allergy or a food intolerance? Do you handle them differently? What if it is a friend or coworker – how do you plan for their needs in the event you are making food and want to include them?


Understanding Food Allergies and Intolerances

According to WebMD, the most important difference between a food allergy and a food intolerance is that an allergy can be life-threatening. Allergies tend to show up quickly every time you ingest the allergen, and a small amount of the offending food can cause a reaction. (In fact, it’s so serious that one city in Canada is considering placing EpiPens in restaurants in case a patron has an allergic response to his or her food.)

Food intolerances are more gradual in their effect on the body, are not fatal, and are a bit harder to nail down, as they don't always occur when you eat a small amount of the triggering food. Often, you may only have a reaction when you consume too much of the food or if you eat it more often than your body to handle.

How Do I Know What My Issue Is?

As a general rule, food allergies are easier to spot than intolerances. However, if you suspect you have an issue related to food, you should see your medical doctor for testing. They can run a battery of tests that will identify any food allergies, narrow down intolerances, and help you create a menu and safe eating plan to improve your health and digestion.

But when considering symptoms, WebMD points out that both intolerances and allergies may cause nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, and digestive upset. Intolerances tend towards Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) symptoms, like gas, heartburn, headaches, irritability, and even constipation or diarrhea.

Allergies reveal themselves in severe symptoms, like shortness of breath, heart palpitations, chest pain, and hives or fever. You cannot wait to deal with the reaction of an allergy – you may need medical help immediately.

This is when keeping a food diary can be most helpful. Track the foods you eat every day for two weeks, and include in your notes how you feel after each meal. While allergies show up immediately, intolerances can take hours, sometimes even days to affect you, so following your symptoms over time is one of the best ways to evaluate the severity of your intolerance.

How Do I Deal With My Allergy or Intolerance?

If you have a food allergy, there is absolutely no wiggle room. You must avoid the offending food at all costs. Awareness is spreading globally about the seriousness of food allergies, so it’s much easier to find foods both in restaurants and grocery stores that are safe for you to consume. Just remember the golden rule: never trust – always ask. Even if the server offers assurances that the meal will be safe for you, if you have any qualms, ask to speak with the chef.

If you have a food intolerance, you'll need to gauge how sensitive you are. Some people experience mild sensitivities that only show up if they eat a certain food every day, or too many servings of it. Others are more sensitive, and even a small amount results in unpleasant side effects.

The Good News

With the influx of awareness around those with food allergies and intolerances, life has become much easier for those afflicted. And if your digestion isn't ideal, such as you suffer from regular bouts of gas, bloating, and bowel irregularity, it’s worth investigating with the help of your medical practitioner.

Ally Bishop
Contributing writer

Monday, May 13, 2013

Food Allergies–Treatment and Coping

Today, five million Americans suffer from food allergies. For some, the risk of  anaphylaxis – an often life-threatening, allergic reaction that affects breathing – lurks within any meal consumed in which they do not know the chef's choice of ingredients. 

As we enter Food Allergy Awareness Week (May 12-18), here are four lifestyle management tips for those suffering from food allergies, as well as information on food allergy treatments.

FARE Food Allergy Awareness Week

Food allergies are effectively an overreaction of the body's immune system to what it perceives as a threat when it is presented with what should be considered by the body as a harmless food protein. The immune system "attacks" the allergen as if it were a germ. It does this by producing massive amounts of an antibody called immunoglobulin E, releasing histamine or other chemicals. The result: an allergic reaction to food.

Common non-life-threatening allergic reactions to foods include symptoms such as hives on the skin, itchy mouth or ear canal, vomiting, nausea, stomach pain, diarrhea, eczema, uterine contractions, sneezing, nasal congestion, or a dry cough.  Serious food allergy symptoms include a weak pulse, loss of consciousness, chest pain, dropping blood pressure, shortness of breath, difficulty swallowing, or a swelling of the mouth or throat that impinges upon breathing.
FARE Food Allergy Awareness Week
Just about any food can cause food allergy reactions. That said, an estimated 90 percent of all food allergic reactions in the US are attributed to wheat, egg, milk, soy, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, and peanut.  For detailed info on these common food allergens, explore the Food Allergens section of the Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) organization.

Treatment for food allergies

The first step in food allergy treatment is an accurate diagnosis. If you suspect that you or your child have a food allergy, medical experts strongly recommend getting evaluated and treated by an experienced medical professional, preferably a board-certified allergist, to whom your primary care physician can refer you.

Alternatively, see the physician directory of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.  The problem with attempting to diagnose food allergies on your own is that food allergies are easily misrecognized, which could result in avoidable dietary restrictions, lack of nutrition, or continuing allergic reactions to foods.

To identify food allergies, allergists use many different tests, including the skin prick test, a blood test, an oral food challenge,  or a trial elimination diet. Once a food allergy has been identified, your allergist can help you with treatments that can alleviate or control symptoms. Unfortunately, at this point, there are no known food allergy cures.  Until any cures for food allergies are found, the best food allergy treatment is to avoid the foods you are allergic to.

To reduce the severity of the mild to moderate food allergy symptoms, doctors often treat their patients with antihistamines or steroids. When a patient suffers from severe reactions, such as anaphylaxis, the doctor usually prescribes epinephrine, often in the form of an auto-injector. Epinephrine is capable of reversing food allergy symptoms.

Along with epinephrine, doctors often prescribe other medications, such as steroids, antihistamines, or short-acting bronchodilators, all of which can help relieve or control the severity of symptoms.

Four tips for coping with food allergies

The following guidance will help those who deal daily with food allergies.
  1. Respond quickly to severe food allergy reactions. Immediately take your prescribed epinephrine at the first signs of a reaction, and contact 911. Because breathing or consciousness problems may arise, request an ambulance rather than driving yourself. Make sure you and family members know to inform the 911 dispatcher that you have just administered epinephrine and that it was for an anaphylactic reaction to food.
  2. Practice and prepare to respond to food allergies. Just as fire drills and tornado drills save lives, so can food allergy drills. Know in advance where in your area there are emergency rooms capable of treating a severe food allergy.  Just as experienced travelers locate the nearest fire escapes when they are staying away from home, experienced food allergy sufferers prepare for allergy attacks when traveling by finding out in advance where the nearest emergency rooms are, and by always keeping food allergy medications handy.  As well, it's wise to practice using any prescribed auto-injectors before you actually need one. Ask your doctor for a auto-injector "trainer" device – similar to the real thing, but without the needle or medication.
  3. Get connected with a food allergy support group. It can be difficult and embarrassing to deal with food allergies on a day-to-day basis. Many food allergy sufferers find comfort and encouragement by joining a food allergy support group. To find a support group near you, take advantage of the FARE organization's food allergy support group search engine.
  4. Learn about food allergies and keep a diary. If you must live with food allergies, there are many reliable websites and books available to help you understand your allergy and know how to deal with them. Doctors also recommend that you maintain a journal of your own allergic reactions, which can be a great resource for you and your doctor. Identify which meals cause reactions, in which seasons of the year you most experience the reactions, and severity of reactions. Capturing this info will help you and your doctor identify food tolerance changes, which can help with dietary or medical treatment adjustments.

Boost awareness and solutions: Food Allergy Awareness Week

FARE Food Allergy Awareness WeekFood Allergy Awareness Week, practiced annually since 1998, is sponsored by FARE, the organization that regularly works on behalf of Americans with food allergies.  See their site to find out how you can get involved in spreading the word. You'll find downloadable Food Allergy Awareness Week posters, printable bookmarks, and factsheets about food allergies that you can share on social media to help raise awareness.  FARE also encourages you to change your Facebook profile picture and cover photo to show your support, participate in a FARE Walk for Food Allergies, and wear teal for a day this week.  
Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer