How Are Allergies Treated
There’s no cure for allergies, but symptoms can be managed. The best way to cope with them is to avoid the allergens. That means that parents must educate their kids early and often, not only about the allergy itself, but also about the reactions they can have if they consume or come into contact with the allergen.
Telling all caregivers about your child’s allergy is also important.
If avoiding environmental allergens isn’t possible or doesn’t help, doctors might prescribe medicines, including antihistamines, eye drops, and nasal sprays.
In some cases, doctors recommend allergy shots; to help desensitize a person to an allergen. But allergy shots are only helpful for allergens such as dust, mold, pollens, animals, and insect stings. They’re not used for food allergies.
To help kids avoid airborne allergens:
- Keep family pets out of your child’s bedroom.
- Remove carpets or rugs from your child’s room .
- Don’t hang heavy drapes and get rid of other items that allow dust to build up.
- Clean when your child is not in the room.
- Use special covers to seal pillows and mattresses if your child is allergic to dust mites.
- If your child has a pollen allergy, keep the windows closed when pollen season is at its peak, have your child take a bath or shower and change clothes after being outdoors, and don’t let him or her mow the lawn.
- Keep kids who are;allergic to mold away from;damp areas, such as some basements, and keep bathrooms and other mold-prone areas clean and dry.
How Do You Treat Allergies
Most allergy treatment involves prescription or over-the-counter antihistamines, which treat allergy symptoms. As mentioned, Epinephrine is also used to treat severe allergic reactions.
Other allergy treatments include various forms of immunotherapy, most commonly allergy shots and allergy drops. Both allergy shots and allergy drops expose the immune system to small amounts of one or more allergens at predetermined intervals. Allergen doses start small, then gradually increase. The goal of the treatment is to retrain the immune system to recognize the allergen as not dangerous, decreasing the frequency or severity of allergy symptoms.
Allergy shots and allergy drops are the only current treatment methods that reduce sensitivity to an allergen itself, instead of just treating the allergy symptoms. If youre interested in either option, speak to an experienced allergist.
Fact #4: All Food Allergic Children Should Carry Epinephrine
Antihistamines can be used to relieve mild allergy symptoms, such as a skin rash or a one-time episode of GI symptoms. However, if a child is having anaphylaxis or difficulty breathing the child needs an injection of epinephrine.
A delay in treatment can be life-threatening, so its important children with food allergies have an emergency plan, have an epinephrine injector on hand and know how to use it. It is important to have 2 injectors with the child and not split a 2 pack up, as some children will need the second dose. After using epinephrine or if youre with a child and they dont have an injector call 9-1-1 immediately.
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Fact #6: Although Not A Cure A New Option Is Available To Treat Peanut Allergy In Children And Adolescents 4 To 17 Years Old
To prevent life-threatening allergic reactions, children with peanut allergies are taught to avoid peanuts, ask whats in food before eating it, check nutrition labels and always carry 2 epinephrine autoinjectors. That can work well, but there is always a risk of accidental ingestion and reaction. A new FDA-approved treatment, PalforziaTM, may help children and their parents worry less by reducing the severity of allergic reactions caused by accidental ingestion of peanuts.
Palforzia is an oral immunotherapy and works by exposing the child to a small amount of peanut, so they become less likely to have an allergic reaction if they accidentally eat a peanut product. Its important to know that the treatment has its risks and is not a cure. Whether or not they are taking Palforzia, if a child with a peanut allergy has a reaction, they should inject their epinephrine and call 911.
Food allergies can be scary and life-threatening, but with the right education, kids can live a very happy, healthy and normal life. And while food allergies arent the norm, we want it to become the norm to treat kids with food allergies like everyone else. If your kids come into uncomfortable situations or you think they are being bullied, encourage them to talk to you or their teacher.;
For more information, check out the Food Allergy Center at Children’s Mercy where you’ll find more food allergy education and information about the multidisciplinary food allergy clinic.;
Fact #1: Food Allergy Is Not The Same As Food Intolerance
Most people don’t understand there is a big difference between the two. A food allergy involves the immune system and can be life-threatening, while a food intolerance tends to only be the GI system and is never life-threatening.
Someone with a food allergy can never eat the food they are allergic to because theyll have a reaction each and every time. During an allergic reaction, the immune system releases histamine and other chemicals to try and fight off the food allergen. Symptoms can also impact more than one body system, which include:
- Skin: hives, rash, itching
- Lung: repetitive cough, difficulty breathing
- Abdomen: immediate vomiting and/or diarrhea
- Mouth: swelling tongue and lips
- Nose: immediate runny nose, sneezing and itching
- Throat: change in voice, trouble swallowing, drooling
- Heart: fainting, dizziness, loss of conscience
- Other: sense of impending doom, doesn’t feel right
Timing of symptoms is also key. Food allergy symptoms usually happen within two hours of ingesting the food. So a kid that wakes up the next day and complains of a bellyache is not having an allergic reaction.
Kids with food intolerances have trouble digesting food and may experience belly pain, gas and constipation. The most common intolerance is to lactose, which is a natural sugar in milk.
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How Do Allergies Happen
An allergy happens when the immune system& overreacts to an allergen, treating it as an invader and trying to fight it off. This causes symptoms that can range from annoying to serious or even life-threatening.
In an attempt to protect the body, the immune system makes antibodies called immunoglobulin E . These antibodies then cause certain cells to release chemicals into the bloodstream to defend against the allergen “invader.”
It’s the release of these chemicals that causes allergic reactions. Reactions can affect the eyes, nose, throat, lungs, skin, and gastrointestinal tract. Future exposure to that same allergen will trigger this allergic response again.
Some allergies are seasonal and happen only at certain times of the year ; others can happen anytime someone comes in contact with an allergen. So, when a person with a food allergy eats that particular food or someone who’s allergic to dust mites is exposed to them, they will have an allergic reaction.
Food Allergies On The Rise Determining The Prevalence Of Food Allergies And How Quickly It Is Increasing Is The First Step In Tackling The Problem
Food is an integral part of life; however, for some, it can also be deadly. Sufferers of food allergies must avoid, for example, certain cereals, nuts or fish at all costs, and scrutinize the list of ingredients of every food item to make sure that it is safe. The consequences of accidentally eating just a tiny morsel of the wrong food can be serious: breathing difficulties, swelling of the lips and throat, abdominal cramps and vomiting, and possibly death. Although food allergies are believed to be on the rise, a paucity of data on their prevalenceand just how quickly it is increasingmakes it difficult for governments and health services to react.
Assessing the incidence of food allergies is easier said than done. Societal and scientific definitions differ, and diagnosis can be problematic. Without firm figures on the number of people affected, it is difficult to track the changes in prevalence over time, and to trace the underlying causes of food allergy. More importantly, governments can be slow to implement policy changessuch as guidelines on food labellingwhen the extent of the problem is not clear.
In this era of globalization, it is not only populations that migrate but also foods, as people adopt foreign diets and import exotic products
Regional differences are clear from the varying number of allergens considered dangerous in each area
allergy rates might have as much to do with how and when the food is introduced as with the food itself
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Why Are Nut Allergies So Common
Asked by: Anthony Wyvill, Harrogate
Possibly because most people now eat far more nuts and peanuts than they used to. There is a genetic basis to many allergies, but some have to be primed before they have any real effect. One theory is that mothers in developed countries are now eating more nuts and peanuts when they are pregnant. This means their babies are primed for the allergy even before they are born.
Another suggestion is that with concerns over exposure to the Sun, parents are now applying far more moisturising creams and lotions to their babies. These often contain low-grade peanut oil which might then prime the allergy. It might explain the association between eczema and peanut allergy in children, because such lotions are applied to soothe the itching.
However, some research shows that early exposure to peanuts can prevent later allergic reactions. Children in countries where lots of nuts are eaten from infancy do not show the high levels of allergy common in Western countries.
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Does The Principles Of The Hygiene Hypothesis Lead To An Increase In Food Allergies
In the 1980s, Professor P. Strachan discovered children in larger households had less allergic rhinitis , an allergic disease of the nose, due to exposure to germs by older siblings . He created the Hygiene Hypothesis, arguing fundamental changes in lifestyle led to reductions in exposure to pathogens, important for the development of immunoregulatory mechanisms. Therefore, hygiene and a westernized, semi-sterile diet may facilitate atopy by influencing the stimulation of gut-associated lymphoid tissue. The US Food and Drug Association is of the opinion that a child must be exposed to germs so the immune system can develop and strengthen but this shall include an avoidance of serious infections. Changes in industrialised countries may have had a part to play and include decontamination of water supplies, pasteurisation and sterilisation of milk, vaccinations, and wide use of antibiotics .
In the 1990s, Dr Erika von Mutius compared rates of allergies in Germany, finding East Germanys children, who lived in dirtier cities, had lower allergic reactions than children in the West . More infections in the East may promote normal development of the immune system, with a bias for non-allergic Th1 cells rather than allergic inflammatory Th2 cells , reducing the risk of allergy.
Table 1 Per Capita Consumption of Soaps and Detergents.
The effect of common behavioural changes and practices in the developed world on food allergy prevalence
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Exposure To Peanuts: Timing Is Everything
While there is a genetic aspect to allergies, some experts argue that an allergy can be primed if a subject is exposed to large amounts of that particular food before a certain age. For example, if the body has such a strong negative reaction, it may learn to always negatively react to that substance in the future.
Twenty years ago, shortly after the rapid rise of peanut allergies in the population, experts recommended waiting until after three years of age before exposing children to peanuts, and even recommending that women reduce their peanut or tree nut consumption during pregnancy to minimize the risk of the infant having the allergy. A little more than a decade later, more research had been done on the dietary patterns and;peanut allergy frequency of children in other countries, where peanut exposure is made when;kids are very young, even as young as four months. It was found that the likelihood of peanut allergies in those settings was very low.
In short, there isnt a definitive reason as to why peanut allergies are suddenly wreaking havoc across Westernized countries, denying an entire generation of PB&J joy. However, it is likely a combination of slightly weakened immune systems as a result of hygiene-obsessed behavior, a shift in our overall diet towards high-sugar and low-fiber diets, and a change in how we are exposing our children to different foods and other substances in the world.
The Vitamin D Deficiency Theory
Vitamin D is extremely important to the body. Its essential for bone growth, calcium absorption, immune system development, and a lot more. Deficiencies have been linked to weight gain, depression, heart disease, some forms of cancer, and you guessed it food allergies.
Vitamin D is so important, in fact, that the human body produces it itself. The thing is, the skin needs to be exposed to sunlight in order to do so. And this where a possible answer to why is there an increase in food allergies comes in. Studies have shown that people with Vitamin D deficiencies are much more sensitive to common food allergens.
Also, it is believed that in this technological age, children spend a lot less time outdoors compared to previous generations. This means their bodies are producing a lot less Vitamin D naturally.
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What Are Adult Onset Allergies
Adult-onset allergies are those allergy symptoms that manifest later in life. This could be anywhere from younger adulthood, such as in a persons 20s, to a persons senior years, when they are 70 or 80 years old. Typically, if you lived through your 20s and your 30s without any new allergies, the chances of getting adult-onset allergies diminishes.
The strangest part about adult-onset allergies is that you can wake up today irritated by an allergen that didnt bother you yesterday. You could have been in contact with said allergen every single day for years with no adverse effects. Now, you have a runny nose, itching eyes and uncontrollable sneezing around that allergen.
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No Smoke Without Fire
One study found that mothers who ate more tree nuts during pregnancy were less likely to have a child with a nut allergy. Yet, the research into the relationship between a mothers diet and allergies is inconclusive. It can only suggest a relationship between the two factors, rather than causality. You should always talk to your GP before taking supplements and changing your diet during pregnancy.
Some suggest that the increased prevalence of allergies in the UK is a result of increased exposure to allergens. This contradicts the idea that increased exposure to allergens could reduce sensitivity. However, it supports the idea that increased atmospheric pollution could cause more asthma. Two-thirds of people in the UK report that poor air quality worsens their asthma. Also, research shows that children living in more polluted areas have a higher chance of developing asthma.
Despite each having research to support them, these ideas surrounding the causes of allergies in the UK are still theoretical. The evidence that does exist remains inconclusive. There could be some truth to them all but what the evidence does highlight, is a need for further research.
If you think you are suffering from an allergy and would like to get tested, you can book an appointment with us online or by phone or request an allergy test.
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How To Get Tested
A food allergy will usually cause some sort of reaction every time the trigger food is eaten. Symptoms can vary from person to person, and you may not always experience the same symptoms during every reaction. Allergic reactions to food can affect the skin, respiratory tract, gastrointestinal tract and cardiovascular system. It is impossible to predict how severe the next reaction might be, and all patients with food allergies should be carefully counseled about the risk of anaphylaxis, a potentially fatal reaction that is treated with epinephrine .
While food allergies may develop at any age, most appear in early childhood. If you suspect a food allergy, see an allergist, who will take your family and medical history, decide which tests to perform and use this information to determine if a food allergy exists.
To make a diagnosis, allergists ask detailed questions about your medical history and your symptoms. Be prepared to answer questions about:
- What and how much you ate
- How long it took for symptoms to develop
- What symptoms you experienced and how long they lasted.
After taking your history, your allergist may order skin tests and/or blood tests, which indicate whether food-specific immunoglobulin E antibodies are present in your body:
Your allergist will use the results of these tests in making a diagnosis. A positive result does not necessarily indicate that there is an allergy, though a negative result is useful in ruling one out.
Immunity Is More Than Antibodies
When we say immunity, we have to be clear that we are talking about cellular immunity and immune memory, not only antibodies. This is a key point. Neutralizing antibodies, which prevent the virus from entering our cells, are generated by the vaccines. But those antibodies will necessarily wane over time since we cannot keep antibodies from every infection and vaccine we have ever seen in the bloodstream . Vaccines with shorter intervals between doses are likely to have their antibodies wane sooner than vaccines with longer intervals between doses , making mild symptomatic breakthroughs less likely with the Moderna vaccine than the Pfizer during our Delta surge, as a recent Mayo Clinic study showed.
Luckily, the vaccines generate B cells that get relegated to our memory banks and these memory B cells are able to produce high levels of antibodies to fight the virus if they see it again. Amazingly, these memory B cells will actually produce antibodies adapted against the COVID variants if they see a variant in the future, rather than the original antibodies directed against the ancestral strain. This is because memory B cells serve as a blueprint to make antibodies, like the blueprint of a house. If a house needs an extra column , the blueprint will oblige just as memory B cells will!
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