Tuesday March 11, 2014
Food allergies are becoming increasingly common around the world, with approximately 8% of all children and 5% of all adults having at least one food allergy. The most common food allergies in children include milk, egg, soy, wheat, peanut, tree nuts and seafood. In adults, the most common food allergies include seafood, fruits and vegetables (often as a result of the oral allergy syndrome).
Classically, there is no cure for food allergies. Avoidance of the culprit food is the best way to prevent symptoms. There have been many studies performed over the past 10 years that have attempted to cure food allergies - experimental treatments have included a variety of different forms of immunotherapy, meaning that the culprit food is given back to the allergic person in an attempt to force the immune system into tolerating the food, rather than reacting in an abnormal, allergic way.
Saturday March 8, 2014
If you've got a stuffy nose and your box of Kleenex is getting more use than your iPhone, you might have hay fever. But you're not alone -- tens of millions of Americans suffer from spring hay fever. With the warmer weather, longer days and greener plants, you can expect lots of sneezing, itchy eyes, and a runny nose. What can you do to combat spring allergies this year? You have a wide range of strategies to choose from in order to get your spring allergies under control. See some of these strategies on this great slide show, and then check out the following articles to learn more:
Sunday March 2, 2014
Primatene Mist CFC Inhaler was an over-the-counter (OTC) inhaler used for the treatment of immediate asthma symptoms, but was removed from the market in late 2011 because the harmful effects of its propellant on the environment. Since that time, the only available OTC asthma medications were Primatene in tablet form and Asthmanefrin in nebulized solution form. All prescription asthma inhalers were required to switch to a different propellant, called hydrofluoroalkane (HFA), which doesn't have harmful effects on the environment.
Primatene Mist HFA OTC was recently submitted for FDA approval, but subcommittees on OTC Products and Allergy/Pulmonary Drugs rejected this proposal. The reasons cited for the rejection included the lack of a dose counter, frequent clogging of the inhaler, and the fact that inhaled epinephrine is not routinely recommended for the treatment of acute asthma symptoms.
While physician groups are happy with the FDA's decision to reject the approval of Primatene Mist, this decision may make it harder for people with asthma to obtain OTC medications for the treatment of their symptoms. This may lead to more visits to urgent care centers and emergency rooms, as well as hospitalizations for asthma. On the other hand, given the better availability of healthcare as a result of Obamacare, asthmatics should be able to see a healthcare provider for the purpose of asthma treatment, which for most asthmatics includes the use of an asthma controller therapy -- none of which are currently available OTC without a prescription.
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Urticaria, the medical term for hives, is caused by the release of histamine into the skin by allergic cells such as mast cells. Chronic urticaria is often due to unknown causes or due to autoimmune disease. While antihistamines are the mainstay of treatment for chronic urticaria, many people find that there symptoms are not controlled with routine dosages of antihistamines. Xolair, an injectable medication for the treatment of asthma, targets IgE before it has the chance to bind to mast cells and cause the release of histamine into the skin. Xolair has been shown to reduce, and in some cases eliminate, symptoms in people with chronic hives. It will be interesting to see if Xolair is eventually approved for the treatment of chronic hives.