Tuesday June 18, 2013
Insect allergies are a major problem during the summer months. People are more likely to participate in outdoor activities, such as swimming, hiking and yard work, and therefore are likely to come into contact with various insects. These insects, which are enjoying the warm weather as well, can sting people. Most people experience some type of reaction after being stung by a bee or bitten by a mosquito. Usually, these reactions include pain and swelling around the sting. Allergic reactions can also occur as a result of a sting, and can even be life-threatening. Find out more about insect sting and bite allergy, who should undergo testing, and the treatments that are available.
Wednesday June 12, 2013
Summer vacation brings to mind all sorts of great outdoor activities - from camping at the lake or trips to the beach, the warm summer months lead to water activities, such as swimming in the lake, surfing in the ocean or waterskiing in the river. Unfortunately, many people will experience an itchy skin rash after aquatic sports. There are many causes of itchy rashes after swimming, including insect bites, cold urticaria and many causes of sun allergy after a day in the sun. Microscopic organisms cause two special types of itchy rashes after swimming, one from exposure to freshwater (lakes, ponds, rivers and streams), the other from saltwater (the ocean).
Learn more about the causes of a rash after swimming.
Tuesday June 11, 2013
It's quite common for people with asthma to feel much better during the summer months, and therefore take a break from their asthma controller medications. Kids are out of school, possibly less active, have fewer respiratory tract infections, and therefore often have less asthma symptoms. It would be reasonable to think that people don't need their asthma controller medications during the summer months. Unfortunately, this common practice is one of the reasons why asthmatic children get so sick in the autumn months when they get a viral respiratory tract infection. In fact, our office gets inundated with sick asthmatics in September -- a few weeks after school starts and kids start spreading around the common cold virus. Children often wind up in the emergency room or hospitalized for their asthma as a result.
The most common reason for asthma attacks in children isn't allergies or exercise -- but respiratory tract infections. This is why the fall and winter months tend to be the worst for asthmatics -- this is cold and flu season. Most asthmatics who require a daily controller therapy should stay on this medicine year-round, because even missing a few weeks or months of the medicine leads to untreated inflammation in the lungs -- just waiting for a respiratory tract infection to make things worse. Therefore, taking a summer break from asthma controller medicines isn't the best idea. The first day of school -- and the first cold of the season -- is just around the corner.
Tuesday June 4, 2013
Food allergies are becoming increasingly common in the United States (U.S.), particularly in children. The rate of peanut allergy, in particular, has doubled in the U.S. and other Westernized countries over the last 10 years - and now affects 1 to 2% of the population. It is not clear why other countries in the world have lower rates of peanut allergy than in the U.S., but it is thought that the type of food processing method used might play a major role. In the U.S. and U.K., peanuts are generally dry roasted, compared to other countries in the world, where peanuts are more commonly boiled, fried or even pickled. A recent study looked at how processing peanuts changed how people with peanut allergy reacted to them - rather, how IgE antibodies in a blood sample reacted to peanut allergens in a blood test for allergies.
If how peanuts are processed affects the ability of the food to result in a food allergy, it begs the question: Does eating processed foods, in general, influence the chance of developing food allergies? Since we as a society frequently eat more processed foods, and less "raw" (unprocessed) foods, this could be one explanation as to why there has been an increase in the rate of food allergies over the past few decades. Food processing could change the characteristic of the food allergen, making it more likely to cause symptoms of food allergy. We may find that certain types of processing causes more allergies, while other processing methods don't affect the risk of food allergy -- or even reduce the chance of developing food allergies.