Allergy Blog

Grain-induced Allergic Reactions

The gluten-free craze sheds light on the fact that many people are developing allergies and intolerances to food products that contain wheat. Barley and rye can also induce reactions as they contain proteins that are similar to wheat. Allergies to wheat and other grains may be due to the following: Immediate IgE-mediated allergy – This allergic reaction stems from the body’s production of immunoglobulin E, or IgE, in response to one of the proteins found in wheat. Children are more prone to this reaction, but some adults may also have wheat allergy. This type of allergic reaction may occur in a matter of a few minutes or up to two hours after ingesting the food that contains wheat. Symptoms include asthma, rhinitis, hives, swelling, or anaphylaxis (a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction). Some individuals may also experience abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, and eczema flare-ups. Wheat-dependent exercise-induced anaphylaxis – People have reported experiencing allergic reactions after eating wheat and then exercising. In some cases, the allergic reactions from this have been so severe that the patient needs an epinephrine shot. Delayed wheat allergy – This allergic reaction usually occurs several hours or days after eating wheat. The common symptoms of this type of reaction include eczema and diarrhea. Celiac Disease – This is different than an allergic reaction. It is a response of the autoimmune system to the gluten proteins found in wheat, barley, and rye. The reaction results in damage to the lining of the small intestine and leads to the decreased ability to absorb nutrients from food. This condition can lead to nutritional deficiencies. Symptoms of celiac disease include... read more

Dealing with the Spring Pollen Barrage

Does spring have you feeling miserable? As early as February, the air can fill with pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds, causing symptoms such as a runny or congested nose, sneezing, and itchy, watery eyes. Spring can also trigger respiratory effects including coughing, wheezing, and asthma. An allergy is the reaction of the immune system to things that the body thinks are harmful, even if they really are not. There is nothing inherently bad about a grass pollen, for example. The trouble lies in the way the immune system perceives it. With allergies, the immune system gets confused and thinks that pollens are actually germs or bacteria. It then gathers all of its resources to fight off the pollen granules.In defense, the body releases histamine which can lead to the inflammation that underlies many allergy symptoms. Though spring will be spring, with its explosion of pollens, there are a number of things you can do to weather it gracefully. Consider the following ideas: Check the pollen count in your area – The National Allergy Bureau map reports the level of pollen and mold in different parts of the country. You can monitor the pollen and mold levels in your area before you decide to go outdoors. By signing up with the NAB website, you will receive personalized updates on a daily basis. Vacuum and dust – Dust causes allergies, but you can attack the dust bunnies and cobwebs by regularly dusting and running the vacuum cleaner in your house. Start with the floor and move to the curtains, upholstered furniture, and pillows. Wipe down the electric fan blades, too.... read more

Watch out for Beer Allergy

Beer drinking goes hand in hand with the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day on March 17, but beer is not for everybody. Some people have allergic reactions to ingredients found in beer. Symptoms could range from hives to life-threatening anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis can lead to swelling, hives, wheezing, low blood pressure, and even cardiac arrest. Beer-making Process Beer is made by breaking down complex carbohydrates into simple sugars, which are then fermented. Common carbohydrates used in the manufacture of beer include malted cereal grains like barley or wheat. Starting agents could also include corn, rice, potato, and rye. Hops are added to the brew as a natural preservative. Hops are responsible for the bitter taste in beer. Brewer’s yeast is added to the mix to start the fermentation process. Causes of Allergic Reaction Here are a couple possible reactions to beer: Accumulation of acetaldehyde – Acetaldehyde accumulation occurs when people are not able to metabolize alcohol due to a mutation in the genes that code for the protein alcohol dehydrogenase. Symptoms include redness, nausea, and an increased heart rate. This condition is particularly common among people of Asian descent. Allergy – Alcohol, being a simple compound, cannot generate IgE antibodies that lead to allergic reactions. Immunoglobulin E or IgE is an antibody found in mammals. When a person has allergy, the immune system overreacts to the allergen by producing this type of antibody. Beer Allergy Though the alcohol itself may not cause an allergy, ingredients in the beer certainly can. These include proteins found in wheat or barley or in the modified grain protein (known as malt extract). There is no... read more

Tips to Survive Spring Allergy Season

Spring is the season for warmer weather, colorful flowers, green grass, and plenty of outdoor activities. The beauties of spring could quickly turn into a nightmare, however, for millions of people who suffer from pollen allergies. As people head outside, the pollen particles will enter their eyes and nasal passages, triggering allergy attacks. Spring and fall are the high seasons for allergies as growing things such as trees, grass, and weeds spread their pollens to the wind. Fortunately, though, you don’t have to be miserable in the face of pollens. Try these tips for mitigating the effects of allergy: Use saltwater – Over-the-counter allergy medications are a good place to start, but they do not work for everybody. Some people find their side effects to be worse than the actual allergy symptoms. In place of allergy medications, people can use simple saline solutions in the form of nasal sprays, neti-pots, or saltwater gargles. Saltwater provides a natural way to counter the effects of pollens. Keep windows closed – After holing up in our homes during winter,it’s an indulgence to thrown open windows and let fresh air and sunlight in. If you suffer from allergies, though, resist the urge. Keep windows and doors closed tight to prevent allergy-causing pollens from entering the house. Skip the clothes line – Wet clothes and bedding are strong magnets for pollen. To keep your home free from pollen, dry your clothes in the dryer or hang them to dry inside. Wash your hair at night – Pollen can gather in your hair as you go about your normal daily activities. Washing your hair at... read more

Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis is a long-term skin condition that begins with itchy, dry skin. Scratching the dry skin makes it inflamed and reddish and infection may occur. When infection is present, the skin may develop tiny, blister-like bumps that may ooze fluid or crust over. Over time, the recurring rash may toughen and thicken the skin. Atopic dermatitis may be mild or severe. Mild atopic dermatitis covers only a small area of the skin. The area may be only slightly itchy and may be adequately addressed with the application of moisturizer. Severe atopic dermatitis covers a larger swath of the skin, is severely itchy and does not go away with mild skin creams. Atopic dermatitis commonly appears on different parts of the body depending on a person’s age. Among babies, the rash often appears on the scalp, cheeks, and knee and elbow creases. In children, it commonly appears on the neck, wrists, legs, hands, arms and ankles. In both children and adults, the rash may appear in the creases of the elbows and knees. Types of Atopic Dermatitis Atopic dermatitis, commonly known as eczema, may take the following forms: Allergic contact eczema – The allergy is triggered when the skin touches something that the immune system perceives to be a threat, such as poison ivy. Contact eczema – This occurs when the skin touches substances that can cause irritation, such as cleaner, acid and other harsh chemicals. Dyshidrotic eczema – This condition develops when the skin of the palms and soles gets irritated followed by the appearance of itchy and burning deep blisters. Neurodermatitis – Mostly caused by insect bites,... read more

Home Remedies for Allergies

Allergies may crop up in unexpected places and during unusual times when you may not be prepared. They could occur when you have limited access to a doctor or to medication, so it’s a good idea to be ready with some home remedies. Spring and summer are particularly tough for people with allergies. The onslaught of pollens causes sneezing, hay fever, and itchy eyes. The following home remedies can help. They may be enough to keep the allergy completely in check or at least make it bearable until you can see a physician. Neti Pots – Preparinga Neti Pot is simple. Fill the pot with warm water and salt. Then tilt your head to one side and pour the solution into one nostril. Repeat the process on the other side. Make sure you use distilled or boiled water, as tap water could introduce hazardous organisms into your system. Saline spray – Saline nasal sprays from the drugstore works the same way as the Neti Pot, only the spray bottle can deliver the solution more gently. Local honey – Some people have reported that eating honey consistently can lower your risk for allergies. HEPA filters – High-efficiency particulate air filters trap allergens and other airborne irritants. A portable HEPA purifier can clean the air in confined spaces, such as bedrooms. HEPA filters can also be incorporated into the home’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. Herbs and supplements – Several herbs, such as eyebright, spirulina, and goldenseal, are believed to relieve allergies. Butterbur, a plant extract, has been shown in some clinical trials to be as effective as over-the-counter antihistamines.... read more

Keep Your Pets and Feel Good, Too

Having a pet allergy may make it more difficult to live with the animals you love, but it doesn’t have to make it impossible. Some people may have pet allergies as a child, and others may develop them in adulthood. Regardless, there are a number of measures you can take to happily co-exist with pets. Understanding Pet Allergies If you suspect a pet allergy, the first step is to see a physician for an allergy exam. You may actually be allergic to something else besides your pet. There have been instances when people mistakenly thought they were allergic to their dog or cat, only to discover later that they were actually allergic to the plant pollens that clung to their pet’s fur. If your doctor confirms that you are allergic to your pet, it’s important to understand the source of that allergy. You are likely reacting to pet dander, the microscopic flecks of skin that animals shed. You may also be allergic to proteins found in your pet’s urine or saliva. Reducing Exposure In most cases, allergic reactions to pets are not life threatening, but the symptoms they generate can certainly reduce your quality of life. To minimize exposure to pet allergens, consider taking the following steps: Allergy-free zone – Keep at least one area of your house completely pet-free. HEPA air filters – Use HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters throughout the house. Avoid carpeted floors and curtains that may trap pet dander. Bathe your pet weekly – Regular bathing will reduce the accumulation of allergy-causing dander on your pet. Ask your vet about proper pet-bathing techniques. Try treatments... read more

Enjoying Valentine’s Day Dining in Spite of Food Allergies

Valentine’s Day is approaching and many people are already making reservations for a night in the town. For people with food allergies, this may present a problem. Eating certain menu items could trigger their allergies, putting a serious wrench in their romantic Valentine’s Day dinner. The following guides will help people with allergies enjoy their dinner dates without fear of reactions: Be prepared – Do your homework before your date. Know where offending food proteins could be hiding. Many restaurants post their menus online, allowing you to examine food choices and ingredients in advance. Carry your medications – An epinephrine injection is the first line of defense in the event of an allergic reaction. Always have your EpiPen handy, especially when dining out. Bring a food allergy card – Complete a card listing the extent of your food allergies. You can hand it to the waiter when you place your order. The waiter can give the card to the chefs who can then help you avoid any possible allergy triggers. Pick the right restaurant – Try calling the restaurant in advance to make sure they can accommodate allergy-free requests. Dine early – Plan to arrive at the restaurant early to beat the crowds. That way, the chefs and kitchen staff will have time to work with your food requests. Ask for the manager – When you first enter the restaurant, talk to the manager and explain your condition. He or she can be your liaison with the chef. Be assertive but friendly – Be courteous. Courteous people get better results than overbearing or demanding ones. Be cautious with dessert... read more

Allergic to Valentine’s Day?

Love is in the air as Valentine’s Day approaches. You may be searching for that perfect gift for your special someone, but if they are allergy-prone, make sure to exercise caution. Some of the most common Valentine’s Day gifts contain allergens that stir up miserable symptoms. Valentine’s Day Allergens Here are a few of the gifts that can trigger allergies: Candy – This Valentine’s Day staple often comes wrapped in a heart-shaped box, looking inviting and appetizing. The problem is that it may contain prominent allergens such as dairy or nuts. Before giving a food-related gift, make sure to confirm that it does not contain an ingredient that will trigger your partner’s allergies. Flowers – Few gifts are more ubiquitous than a bouquet of flowers on Valentine’s Day, but if the blooms leave your partner sneezing and puffy-eyed, you may want to reconsider. Ensure that your loved one does not have flower allergies before calling the florist. If in doubt, choose less-allergenic flowers such as roses, irises, tulips, and periwinkles. Perfumes – Some scents contain chemicals that can trigger allergies. In severe cases, they can cause a person’s airways to swell and even lead to an asthma attack. If your sweetheart is sensitive to perfumes, you should avoid gifting them and also consider minimizing perfume use yourself. Jewelry – If you are out to make a great impression on the person you love, jewelry can make a great gift choice. However, jewelry may contain nickel that can trigger skin allergies. Nickel-free jewelry is the safer option. Dinner – If you are taking your loved one out for a romantic... read more