Food Allergy Lesson: Always Check Ingredients
Spongebob Christmas Song:
From the National Jewish Medical and Research Center website:
Christmas trees are often cited as the source of allergy attacks during the holidays, but molds, associated with watering live trees, and the chemicals sprayed on the trees are more likely irritants. “The Christmas tree issue is overemphasized,” Dr. Dan Atkins says. He finds very few cases among allergy patients in which the tree is the culprit.
Allergic reactions usually occur shortly after an encounter with an allergen, such as dust mites or molds. Unpacking the Christmas ornaments can trigger allergic reactions. “Decorations stored for the past year in a damp basement harbor molds, dust mites and other allergens,” Dr. Atkins says. “Moving, carrying and unpacking the Christmas boxes stirs up dust and transfers allergens to the hands and the respiratory system. People are first aware of the symptoms while decorating the Christmas tree and assume that the tree is the cause.
“Keep ornaments and decorations stored in dry areas, off the floor, in plastic bags,” he advises. “Wash your hands after unpacking decorations. If you’re very concerned about allergy symptoms, allow others to trim the tree.”
Artificial trees can be a good alternative, depending on storage. “If it’s in pieces on the basement or attic floor for a year,” Dr. Atkins says, “the tree will collect dust and mold. Just remember to keep it sealed in a plastic bag in an area free of dust and moisture.”
Note: This information is provided to you as an educational service of National Jewish. It is not meant to be a substitute for consulting with your own physician.
© Copyright 2006 National Jewish Medical and Research Center
I found this shocking video on YouTube. It is a tragic example of what happens when a child is misdiagnosed and the family is given a diagnosis of “Multiple Chemical Sensitivity”.
From the video, I seriously doubt that this child is being treated by a board certified Allergist- Immunologist. Her treatment (sub-lingual drops for food allergy???) is definitely not a scientifically proven therapy. The insurance company is absolutely right. ($2500 a month? Who are they kidding?)
It also does not speak well of Fox News’ fact checking department. A phone call to any trained allergist would have revealed to them that this child’s treatment is bogus.
June 2007 UPDATE: Thanks to Orac and “Respectful Insolence”, we have an insight into Dr. Patel’s finances and the income she has acquired through her practice($30M, dang! there’s gold in them thar neutralizing enzymes!)
This is my favorite food allergy cartoon. Bart and Principal Skinner engage in an epic “Duel of the Fates” battle ala “Star Wars” with peanut and shrimp instead of light sabers.
Disclaimer: Remember that in real life, food allergy is a dangerous and life-threatening problem. Allergic foods should be avoided (see Food Allergy tips)and always remember to carry your epinephrine injector. That being said, aren’t “The Simpsons” great? and of course, all rights are the property of the creator Matt Groening.
Unfortunately, this video is no longer available on youtube, but you can still see it on:
Something for the kids, I found this Disney Italy cartoon on Youtube starring a hero with allergies and asthma, Enjoy!
Episode 2 part 1
For those interested in the “allergy free cat”, play these videos from You Tube:
Anaphylaxis Video from YouTube:
An “allergy attack” or allergic reaction can range in severity from an itchy nose to a severe allergic reaction, called “anaphylaxis” which can result in death. An allergic reaction occurs when someone who is allergic to a particularly protein, because he or she has IgE to it in their immune system from previous exposure, is reexposed resulting in release of histamine and other substances.
The severity of the reaction depends on the amount and extent to which histamine is released into the body. A highly peanut allergic person who eats peanuts or someone allergic to bee stings who is stung by a bee can, within a few minutes of exposure, release large amounts of histamine into his skin, lungs, circulatory system, and gastrointestinal tract resulting in hives, throat swelling, airway spasms, dizziness, vomiting, and abdominal spasms, which if untreated, causes generalized organ collapse and death.
A person experiencing anaphylaxis requires emergency medical treatment involving injection of epinephrine.
After the offending allergen has been identified by allergy testing, avoidance of the allergen, whether it be a food, drug, or airborne protein like dust mites or pollen, is the next critical step. Avoidance can significantly reduce symptoms related to allergies and is of vital importance particularly in food and drug allergies.
House dust mites are the major cause of year-round itchy and runny nose, itchy watery eyes, sneezing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.
What are Dust Mites?
Dust mites belong to the family of 8-legged creatures called Arachnids. They are microscopic and eat particles of skin and dander and thrive in bedding, carpeting, upholstered furniture, clothing, closets, and car seats which are all likely to contain skin particles. They are harmful only to people who become allergic to them. People allergic to dust mites react to proteins in the bodies and digestive waste (feces) of the mites. When allergic people inhale these particles, they start itching, sneezing, or wheezing.
What can be done to avoid Dust Mites?
Taking steps to minimize dust mite exposure in the bedroom often leads to a decrease in symptoms and medication requrements. Emphasis is placed on the bedroom since people spend a third of 24 hours there and because it has the greatest number of dust mites. The mattress, pillows, and boxspring should b encased in zippered, allergen-impermeable covers, and other bedding should be washed frequently in hot water (130 degrees Fahrenheit) every week.
Dust mites grow best at 75-80% relative humidity and cannot live at under 50% humidity. The ideal relative humidity to eliminate them is 40-50%. Use a humidity gauge (hygrometer) and a dehumidifier.
Source: AAAAI Indoor Allergen Tips
More than 70% of US households have a dog or cat. An estimated 10% of the population may be allergic to animals. The number of pets in the US is estimated at more than 100 million which increases the likelihood of accidental exposure to animals by people with allergies when visiting pet owners.
The dander, or skin flakes, as well as the saliva and urine of pets, can cause an allergic reaction. Animal hair is not considered a significant allergen but the hair or fur collects pollen, dust, mold, and other allergens.
Those pets that are known to cause allergic reactions should be removed from the home of the allergic person to avoid worsening of symptoms. Keeping the animal outdoors is only a partial solution, since studies show that homes with pets kept in the yard still have higher allergen concentrations than homes without pets. A “trial” removal of a pet for a few days or even weeks is of little value since you need at least 6 months of avoidance for allergen levels to drop to levels in homes without pets.
Short of removing the pet from the house permanently, here are some tips to reduce pet dander exposure:
1. Keep the pet out of the bedroom, if possible, out of the house.
2. Have a non-allergic person bathe the pet weekly to reduce amount of dander released.
4. Remove or reduce carpet floor coverage and replace bedding and carpeting
3. Have a non-allergic person clean the pet’s litter box or cage regularly.[/ that has animal dander in it.
5. Use High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) Clearners.
6. Cover Upholstery or use sofa and seat covers that can be easily cleaned or wiped down.
Molds are microscopic fungi which, unlike plants, are unable to produce their own food from sunlight and air. Many molds reproduce by releasing spores into the air which then settle on organic matter and grow into new mold clusters. Airborne mold spores are more numerous than pollen grains, and when inhaled, can produce allergic symptoms.
Molds can be found wherever there is moisture, oxygen, and a source of the few other chemicals they need. Growth is encouraged by warmth and high humidity. Hot spots of mold growth in the home include damp basements and closets, bathrooms (especially shower stalls), places where fresh food is stored, refrigerator drip trays, house plants, air conditioners, humidifers, garbage pails, mattresses, upholstered furniture and old foam rubber pillow.
Here are a few tips to decrease mold exposure indoors:
1. Keep humidity low, less than 50%. Use a dehumidifier or air conditioner with a hygrometer to monitor relative humidity.
2. Allow adequate ventilation. Use an exhaust fan particularly in the bathroom and kitchen or open windows to remove humidity from cooking or showers.
3. Clean visible mold from walls and ceilings. Wash the shower curtain, tiles, stall, tub, and toilet tank with mold-killing and mold-preventing solutions. (50/50 bleach and water mixture also works well)
4. Correct drainage problems near the house and correct seepage or flooding problems inside the house. Remove water-damaged carpet, if present.
5. Allergic persons should not have their bedroom on the basement level.
6. Do not carpet the bathroom and bedroom and avoid carpets on concrete floors, especially the basement. Tile, hardwood, or vinyl floors are a better choice.
7. Dry shoes and boots thoroughly before storing.
8. Empty water pans in self-defrosting refrigerators and throw out spoiling food immediately. Empty garbage containers frequently.
9. Limit the number of houseplants. Mold also grows on bark, do not store firewood indoors and avoid live Christmas trees.
10. Greenhouses, antique shops, saunas, sleeping bags, summer cottages, and hotel rooms are sources of high mold exposure. Automobile air conditioners may also harbor mold.
11. Keep compost piles away from the main house.
When outdoor pollens are high, remain indoors, particularly in the late morning. Pollen grains can cause significant allergic symptoms like asthma and allergic rhinitis, particularly during the spring and the fall. It is difficult to avoid pollen because it is windborne and can cover wide distances. Short of moving to a different location, here are some tips for avoiding pollen during the season.
Molds are microscopic fungi which, unlike plants, are unable to produce their own food from sunlight and air. They are made up of clusters of filaments and live on plant or animal matter, which they decompose for their nourishment. Molds reproduce by releasing spores into the air.
Airborne mold spores are far more numerous than pollen grains and can cause significant asthma, allergic rhinitis, and sinusitis.
Source: AAAAI Outdoor Allergen Tips