Food Chemicals That May Cause Asthma
Intolerance to food chemicals is dose-related, which means the symptoms get worse as more of the chemical is ingested.
Some of the food chemicals that are known to trigger asthma in susceptible people include:
- sulphites such as sulphur dioxide and sodium metabisulphite. These additives are often used in processed foods as preservatives. Common sources include wine, fruit juices, canned fish and dried fruit
- food colourings such as the yellow food dye tartrazine. Food colourings very rarely trigger asthma attacks. Generally, if a person with asthma reacts to one food colouring, they should make sure to avoid eating any food colourings
- monosodium glutamate this is a naturally occurring chemical, frequently used as an additive to enhance flavour, particularly in savoury snack foods. Foods that contain high concentrations of MSG include stock cubes, gravy, soy sauce and packet soups. Hydrolysed vegetable protein is sometimes added to foods in place of MSG, and may trigger asthma in people who are sensitive to MSG
- salicylates naturally occurring salicylates are also present in many foods, including instant coffee, soy sauce, tomato paste and sauce, beer and honey. The drug aspirin is also a salicylate. Other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may also trigger dangerous attacks in people who are sensitive to aspirin. Around five to 10 per cent of people with asthma are sensitive to salicylates.
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Lab Results Hint At Possibilities
Even as researchers grapple with limited field data, they continue to produce compelling results in climate-controlled chambers that predict future effects on allergenic species. In her research at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Kristina Stinson, an assistant professor of environmental conservation, grows ragweed in greenhouses containing CO2 at levels ranging from 360 ppmjust under the current ambient concentrationto 720 ppm. Stinson says higher CO2 levels could force evolutionary changes in ragweed. A study she published in 2011 showed that genotypes that are suppressed at current CO2 levels devoted more resources to reproduction as CO2 levels rose. In other words, she says, more genotypes overall were flowering. Stinson says that while she didnt measure pollen output directly, we do note that more vigorous flowering and higher pollen production are usually correlated.
Warming is expected to increase with increasing distance from the equator. One multiyear study in North America found that pollen seasons lengthened incrementally with increasing northern latitudeby up to 4 weekswhile decreasing slightly in the southernmost monitoring location.
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More Serious Than Sneezing High Pollen Linked To Death
April 27, 2000 — If you have seasonal allergies or know someone who does, you know the misery associated with a high pollen count: sneezing, itchy eyes, and increased asthma problems. Even if you felt like dying, you probably wouldn’t think of these pollen-heavy days as deadly.
Think again, say Dutch investigators who found more death due to heart disease and certain respiratory conditions on days with high pollen counts.
“Pollen is a well-known trigger of allergies, especially hay fever and asthma,” the authors write. “However, deaths related to these conditions are extremely rare, and cannot account for the associations seen in this study.” They likened the association to the one between air pollution and death, noting that a 5% to 10% increase in death is seen on high-pollution days. The new study was published in the journal The Lancet.
“The association is a bit like the link between and very warm or very cold weather, which are also known to increase ,” lead author Bert Brunekreef, PhD, tells WebMD. “Similar findings have been reported repeatedly for air pollution.” Brunekreef is an epidemiologist in the Netherlands.
During this period, there was an average of more than 330 deaths per day. Of these, there was an average of about 140 deaths per day due to cardiovascular disease, 16 for COPD, and 10 for pneumonia.
The study was funded by the Ministry of the Environment in the Netherlands.
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Is Rain Good For Allergies
Some seasonal allergy sufferers celebrate the rain because it relieves their symptoms, while others dread it. Why the difference in attitude? Its because depending on your allergy, rain can either be a good sign or a bad sign.
Lets start with the good things about rain for allergies. Some pollens scatter and collect on outdoor surfaces, accumulating over time. When steady or heavy rains come, they wash away this accumulation of pollen, and that is good news if those types of pollen give you sneezing fits. Whats more, the moisture in the air can weigh down pollens, sending them down to the ground. With enough rainwater, the pollen then flushes down the drain and away from your sinuses.
Of course theres bad news, too. Sometimes when it rainsespecially during sudden downpoursthe airborne pollens clump together on their way down, then crash apart when they hit the ground, scattering everywhere, and perhaps eventually through your nostrils. There are other problems as well. After enough rain has poured, mold starts to grow, aggravating anyone with mold spore allergies. You may be able to escape somewhat if you reduce the humidity inside your home, which discourages mold. Grasses thrive after the rain too, so grass pollen allergies can also intensify soon after rainfall.
Handling An Allergy Emergency
Epinephrine can prevent or reverse anaphylaxis symptoms. If youâve been prescribed epinephrine injectors, carry two doses with you and practice using them. If you think youâre having an anaphylactic reaction, immediately inject epinephrine even if you are unsure that the symptoms are allergy related. Then call 911, even if you feel better.
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How Is Anaphylaxis Diagnosed
If youve had an allergic reaction to food or insect stings , talk to your healthcare provider. A provider can often diagnose anaphylaxis based on your symptoms.
Taking this important step can protect your health and even save your life. It applies to anyone whos had any type of allergic reaction. If you have, you face a greater risk of developing a severe anaphylactic reaction in the future.
Getting a diagnosis is necessary to get the treatment you need.
When Should I Call A Doctor For An Allergic Reaction
Act quickly if someone experiences the symptoms of an anaphylactic reaction. True anaphylaxis is a medical emergency and requires immediate treatment in an emergency department of a hospital, where the person can be watched closely and life-saving treatment can be given.
- It is impossible to predict how severe the allergic reaction will be. Any person who shows symptoms of anaphylaxis must be transported to a hospital emergency department.
- If swelling develops rapidly, particularly involving the mouth or throat, and you have trouble breathing or feel dizzy, light-headed, or faint, call 911 for ambulance transport to the hospital.
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What Causes Anaphylactic Shock
An anaphylactic reaction occurs when the body’s immune system overreacts to an antigen, which it recognizes as an “invader” or foreign substance.
- The body’s white blood cells produce substances called antibodies as a reaction to that antigen. The antibodies circulate in the bloodstream and attach themselves to certain cells in the body.
- In an allergic reaction, the antibody is called immunoglobulin E, or IgE.
- When the antibodies come in contact with the antigen, they signal other cells to produce certain chemicals called “mediators.” Histamine is an example of a mediator.
- The effects of these mediators on organs and tissues of the body cause the symptoms of the reaction.
Skin: Most anaphylactic reactions involve the skin.
What Is The History Of Anaphylaxis
To fully understand this term, we need to go back almost 100 years. The story begins on a cruise aboard Prince Albert I of Monaco’s yacht. The prince had invited two Parisian scientists to perform studies on the toxin produced by the tentacles of a local jellyfish, the Portuguese Man of War. Charles Richet and Paul Portier were able to isolate the toxin and tried to vaccinate dogs in the hope of obtaining protection, or “prophylaxis,” against the toxin. They were horrified to find that subsequent very small doses of the toxin unexpectedly resulted in a new dramatic illness that involved the rapid onset of breathing difficulty and resulted in death within 30 minutes. Richet and Portier termed this “anaphylaxis” or “against protection.” They rightly concluded that the immune system first becomes sensitized to the allergen over several weeks and upon reexposure to the same allergen may result in a severe reaction. An allergen is a substance that is foreign to the body and can cause an allergic reaction in certain people.
- The first documented case of presumed anaphylaxis occurred in 2641 BC when Menes, an Egyptian pharaoh, died mysteriously following a wasp or hornet sting. Later, in Babylonian times, there are two distinct references to deaths due to wasp stings.
- Charles Richet was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1913 for his work on anaphylaxis.
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Other Tips For Allergy Sufferers:
Wear a mask when raking leaves, mowing or gardening. Raking leaves can stir agitating pollen and mold into the air, which causes allergy and asthma symptoms. People with weed, grass, or mold allergies should wear a NIOSH-rated N95 mask when raking leaves, mowing the lawn, or gardening.
Use a high-efficiency particulate air filter indoors. If youre allergic to indoor allergens, indoor air filters may help reduce allergens inside your home and improve indoor air quality.
Track your allergy symptoms. Write down when and where you have symptoms. An allergist can help you develop a treatment plan, which can include both medication and avoidance techniques to help you manage and treat your allergies.
Skin tests can help identify what youre allergic to. If youre having trouble identifying what youre allergic to, a skin test might help you assess your allergies. A quick test can see if you have reactions to different pollens, molds, dust, mites, cats, dogs, horses, feathers, etc.
How are the tests conducted? We dont use a needle. We dont expect any blood. We just dip a little plastic prong in the allergen, then use it to lightly scratch the top surface of your skin. The worst part for most adults is really the itching because you cant touch it for 15 minutes, says Dr. Nguyen.
Can Cat Allergies Cause Anaphylactic Shock
Allergies, in general, can become lethal if they cause anaphylactic shock. Anaphylaxis is a rare but severe allergic reaction that can occur suddenly, escalate quickly, and potentially even be deadly.
The condition comes on rapidly and can lead to death if the individual doesnt receive prompt treatment. It progresses from symptoms like itchy rash, throat or tongue swelling, shortness of breath, vomiting, lightheadedness, and low blood pressure. Over the course of minutes to hours, symptoms can escalate and become deadly.
The most common triggers for anaphylactic reactions are food , latex, medication, and insect stings. Although cats are not listed as a common trigger for anaphylactic shock, that doesnt mean the idea of cat dander causing anaphylactic shock is completely out of the realm of reality.
Anyone who would suffer an anaphylactic reaction to a cat is most likely someone who already suffers a severe allergy to cats and is aware of their condition. A cat allergy that makes you a little sneezy would almost never suddenly escalate to an allergy so severe that it could cause anaphylactic shock.
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Can Dog Allergies Cause Anaphylaxis Or Anaphylactic Shock
Its very rare for dog allergies to cause anaphylaxis. The majority of people who have an allergy severe enough to risk anaphylactic shock have an Epi-pen with them.
They also tend to wear some kind of life alert bracelet to alert others regarding their condition in case theyre found while unconscious.
In the past, there have been rare or one-time cases in which humans went into anaphylactic shock following their contact with a dog.
With that said, the majority of allergists dont list anaphylaxis as a potential symptom of dog allergies.
Anaphylactic shock is a life-threatening allergic reaction that can sometimes be fatal. Anaphylaxis affects the entire body. Common symptoms include:
- Skin flushing
- Nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain
- Drop in blood pressure
- Total collapse and unconsciousness
A person doesnt have to experience all of these symptoms to go into anaphylactic shock.
Anaphylactic shock occurs for the same reason that other allergic reactions occur. The immune system has an inappropriate reaction to a substance that the system wrongfully interprets to be a threat.
There are a number of allergens that are likely to cause anaphylactic shock. These tend to be insect stings or bites, foods like peanuts and shellfish, or chemicals such as latex.
Vaccinations and other drugs can also occasionally cause anaphylactic shock.
How Do I Manage Allergic Asthma
The main goal of treating allergic asthma is to control the condition. Your healthcare provider will work with you to develop ways to manage allergic asthma. Some things your provider may work with you on include:
- Learning how to identify triggers. Your provider will help you figure out what is triggering your asthma and find ways to either avoid or manage these allergens. Often, these triggers are found in your environment. Once you know what they are, you can manage your interactions with them.
- Finding the best medication for you. Not every medication is a perfect fit. Your provider will work with you to find which medication will control your asthma symptoms without causing negative side effects. There are many types of medications for allergic asthma . Take the time to work with your provider to see what works best for you.
- Developing an action plan. Its important to have a plan in place that helps you know when to take certain medications, what to do if the medications arent working and who to call in those situations.
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What Is The Treatment For Anaphylaxis
Epinephrine is the first-line therapy for anaphylaxis. It acts to reverse the effects of anaphylaxis on all body systems. Its effects include the following:
- Skin: improves itching and hives
- Respiratory: relaxes bronchial tubes in the lungs, thus improving shortness of breath, chest tightness, and cough
- Gastrointestinal: diminishes abdominal pain, cramping, and nausea
- Cardiovascular: constricts blood vessels, thus improving blood pressure
Epinephrine also helps prevent the release of more mediators of the allergic reaction. Diphenhydramine is not the first-line therapy for anaphylaxis. This has primary effects on improving skin symptoms, such as hives and itching. In cases of severe anaphylaxis, in addition to epinephrine, other medications, IV fluids, and oxygen are administered once one receives care from a health care professional. The choice of interventions will depend on the severity of the reaction.
Anaphylaxis may be biphasic roughly 20%-30% of the time. This is also known as a “late-phase reaction.” In biphasic anaphylaxis, symptoms improve but then return hours to even days later. Treatment for biphasic reactions is the same as the treatment of initial anaphylactic reactions. It is thought that steroids might reduce the risk of a biphasic reaction.
These are situations in which preventive treatment might be offered by the allergist.
Table 2: Basic Avoidance Measures for Anaphylaxis
Hidden Allergies: Dairy Wheat And Egg
In addition to peanuts, children are often allergic to wheat, milk, and eggs. Because they all can be hidden in other foods, read labels carefully. By law, the eight most common allergenic foods — milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, soy, and wheat — and ingredients made from them such as lecithin and whey should be listed.
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When Does Hay Fever Season Ramp Up
Grass pollen counts are performed daily from October 1 to December 31. In NSW, ryegrass pollens can be ready to waft in on a warm westerly as early as mid-September . Theres a peak in October and especially November and then its over by Christmas. Same in Victoria, where the main enemy is also ryegrass pollen.
More than 50 grains per cubic metre of air is deemed to be a high or extreme pollen count. In 2019, Melbourne had 27 such days, seven more than the average. And, after a year of drought and bushfires, Sydney had none .
But in Sydney , the hay fever season has a second act. January and February brings dustings of pollens from ubiquitous sub-tropical grasses such as Bermuda and Bahia . The season can extend to April in Brisbane as various subtropical species bloom.
While ryegrass is by far the biggest culprit in south-eastern Australia, there are a range of other plants that can set you off.
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What Is Anaphylactic Shock
A person who has an anaphylactic reaction can go into anaphylactic shock. Blood pressure drops severely. The bronchial tissues, which help carry air, swell. These reactions cause wheezing, shortness of breath and even loss of consciousness. Anaphylactic shock requires immediate treatment to save the persons life.
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How Marijuana Smoke Affects Asthma
If you have asthma and smoke weed, you may experience higher incidences of coughing, excessive build-up of phlegm, wheezing, shortness of breath, tightness in your chest, and you may be more susceptible to lung infections. The possibility does exist that irritation from smoking marijuana could prompt a life-threatening asthma attack. This risk is due to the irritation caused by smoke inhalation, not specifically because the smoke comes from cannabis.
Q: What happens if you smoke weed and have asthma?A:It is possible that asthma symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath will worsen if you smoke weed. However, smoking cannabis gives many people near-instant relief from bronchoconstriction, which can stop an asthma attack in its tracks.
Smoke combustion releases toxins and is bad for the lungs whether it comes from weed, cigarettes, or campfires.