AchooAllergy.com Blog
Posted by kevvyg on Wednesday, November 26, 2014
It's finally here, our annual AchooAllergy.com Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale! This year we are offering 15% off your order, AND each order enters you into a drawing for a $500 prepaid VISA gift card.*

Black Friday Savings at AchooAllergy.com - 15% Off Your Order PLUS Chance to Win $500 Prepaid VISA

Shop now until middnight on December 4th, 2014 to take advantage of savings on air purifiers, allergy bedding, HEPA vacuum cleaners, humidifiers and more! Whether you've been putting off a purchase in the hopes of getting the best deal or are simply looking to treat yourself to the best this holiday season, you can now save and earn the chance to make your holiday shopping even sweeter.

Enter the promo code SHOP14 at checkout to take 15% off your order. If you have any problems with applying the code to your specific purchase or have any questions, contact us toll free at 1-800-339-7123 or email cs@achooallergy.com.

*Some exclusions apply. Promotion is over December 5th, 2014 with VISA gift card drawing the following week. Visit our AchooAllergy.com Coupon Page for full more details.

Author: K. Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Alcohol and Food AllergiesAs the season of family get togethers and office parties draws nearer, now is a great time to go over a few things regarding foods allergies and two things that commonly appear at these types of gatherings - alcohol and nuts. For people with food allergies, gatherings and meals can often be a hassle, and the frequency of holiday gatherings can greatly increase this. Nut allergies tend to be some of the most problematic, and with nuts in everything from Thanksgiving stuffing and pies to cookies and alcohol, some anxiety isn't without merit. Even though bowls of nuts sitting on a bar are largely a thing of the past, they can still make appearances at dinner parties. For adults though, what alcohols pose the most problems and which are safe?

This question can be a very difficult one to answer. Alcohol, though consumed like juice, food, or soda (though your liver hopes not with the same frequency!), isn't governed by the same regulations or even the same agency as these others. While foods and most beverages fall under the domain of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), alcohol falls under the guidance and regulations of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, a subdivision of the Department of Treasury. This INCLUDES labeling rules and regulations. I TOTALLY Begged My Graphic Designer for a Graphic of 'Mega-Jumbo-Can-O-Caffeinated-Monkey-Juice' But THIS Is What I Got So while your mega-jumbo-can-o-caffeinated-monkey-juice will most certainly have a label listing the nutritional value and all the ingredients, alcohol is almost always devoid of the former (and often the latter as well). Though it is often easier to determine how many calories are in your alcoholic beverage of choice, finding the actual ingredients that make up that drink is another story entirely.

Many producers do list ingredients on their website or have at least become savvy enough to list some of the common allergens that are NOT in their products, particularly nuts or nut derivatives. Beyond visiting websites and doing your own investigative research, many people are left with only anecdotal evidence as to whether a type of drink can cause a reaction or not.

Distilled spirits (think whiskey, rum, etc.) have a list of standard requirements when it comes to labeling. These include
  • Name
  • Alcohol Content
  • Address of Distiller
  • Country of Origin
  • Net Contents (a metric measurement of volume)
  • Coloring Agents (colored with caramel, annatto, etc.)
  • Wood Treatment ("beechwood aged" ring a bell?)
  • Other Ingredients like Dyes, (Yellow #5), Saccharin, or Sulfites
  • Specific Type of Commodity (redistilled, blended, compounded, etc.)
  • Statement of Age
  • Distillation/Production Location
  • A Health Warning
Seems like a lot, right? Notice what's missing? Nutrition information and ingredients.

Nut Allergy & AlcoholAs of right now, major food allergens can voluntarily be listed for wines, distilled spirits, and malt beverages, but again, this is only voluntary. There has been a proposal to make this mandatory, and since 2006, nothing has been finalized... eight years later.

And, even if you do find a list of ingredients, this still may not cover a statement regarding the processing. Though some can tell you that there are no nuts in their products, many can't ensure their products were produced in a facility that is also nut-free. This touches on another problem, cross-contamination.

Any Type of Alcohol Can Potentially Contain Allergens and Finding What's In the Drink Is No Easy TaskBartenders and those mixing drinks work in fast paced environments and worrying about cross contaminating a drink is likely not high on the priority list when there are half a dozen orders rolling in at a time. A good general tip is to skip the garnish. One garnish in particular that can be troublesome for those with nut allergies is maraschino cherries. These are often processed or flavored with almond extract. If you know a favorite mix or type of drink that is safe for you and you order it with no garnish, you can dramatically reduce any risk. At that point ingredients should be coming straight from the bottle to your glass.

For reference purposes, here's a quick list of some common alcoholic beverages that contain nuts or nut extracts. Keep in mind, things can and do change, so contacting the producer is still your best bet.
  • Amaretto
  • Creme de noyaux
  • Creme de noix
  • Frangelico
  • Galliano
  • Kahana Royale
  • Nocello
  • Beefeater
  • Bombay Sapphire
  • Harp Lager
  • Phillips Dirty Squirrel
  • Southern Comfort
  • Eblana
  • Nocino

This list is by no means comprehensive, and there are MANY varieties of wines, beers, champagnes and other types of alcohol I excluded because they to be rather obvious choices to avoid (many had things like "Nut", "Cashew", or "Almond" in the actual name).

Be Safe This Holiday Season - Cheers!In general, I advise people to stick with what they know. For people with severe nut allergies being adventurous around the holidays can likely lead to some not-so-festive memories. Check producers websites whenever possible, and if you don't see the information you need listed, call or email them. Most producers would much prefer you contact them and err on the side of safety when consuming their products. Lastly, make sure you keep your auto injector (and a backup!) handy at all times.

Unfortunately, all we've covered today is nuts. If you are one of the rare people who has a wheat or gluten allergy, that's a whole other ball of wax. Be safe and enjoy the holidays responsibly!

Author: K. Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Tuesday, November 18, 2014
If you spend any amount of time outdoors, particularly during the winter when the temperatures and dip to around or below freezing, you may notice your nose changes. Normally our noses range in function (or dysfunction!) from an odd looking feature that sits squarely When It's Cold, My Nose Doesn't Get Red?!? in the middle of our face, doing little beyond taking up space or generally getting in the way to smelling all manners of things, acting as the doorway to our respiratory system, filtering air, and holding up our glasses. During the winter, you may notice two changes that your nose undergoes. Let's take a closer look at why your nose get red in cold weather, and why your nose turns into a faucet of clear mucus.

First, let's take a look at why your nose is so festive when it's cold out. We all can't be body doubles for Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, but if you're standing at the bus stop on a cold day, it may appear that we're all headed to the same audition. As the temperature dips, the body's natural response is to warm things back up. The initial response from your body is to send extra blood to the extremities that are cold. This extra blood fills the tiny blood vessels in your nose and gives it that red hue. The same is true for your hands, at least initially.

If the internal temperature in your hands and feet dips too much, the body literally goes into survival mode and begins to cut its losses. Retaining its core temperature becomes priority number one and the process of vasoconstriction begins. ...And You Think Water is Pouring Out of YOUR Nose! Vasoconstriction is when the body begins to decrease blood flow to the extremities in an effort to reduce heat loss at the extremities and retain heat in the core. Before we get too far off track, lets circle back again to the nose.

The other common change your nose undergoes in cold weather is that it may begin to mimic a leaky faucet. Like the steady drip of poor plumbing, your nose will start dripping clear fluid. Yes Virginia, it's mucus. Normally, mucus serves two purposes. First, it humidifies the air you breathe, adding much needed moisture to air before it reaches the lungs. Second, it filters the air. In moderate temperatures mucus is constantly being produced and constantly moving, but when the mercury falls, it thickens and moves very slowly or ceases movement at all. While your river of mucus may have stopped moving, the body keeps producing it, and with nowhere to go, it begins to drip out of your nose.

You can take some solace with both of these things. First, you hardly notice a red nose. If you're outside in the cold with others, you'll all be freezing your noses off, and there's nothing like sharing when it comes to misery! As far as your runny nose goes, many times you don't notice this either, as the cold numbs the nose, deadening out the ability for you to even feel that inevitable drip, drip, drip.

So, you've decided a red nose or dripping nose isn't for you, eh? Cold Weather Mask - Warms and Conveniently Hides Cold, Red, and Drippy Noses Last time I checked, I'm not a polar bear, and while some of us may have issues with excessive body hair, we simply can't compete with cold weather. There are a couple things you can do to help with this, and the easiest is to get out of the cold. If you have to be outside, get a mask. A cold weather mask can be a great way to trap moisture and warmth around your face and nose, not only reducing the potential of cold weather induced asthma but making the frigid air you're breathing much more manageable. Frequent breaks and warm liquids are also good ideas.

This.... Is Probably NOT My Best IdeaAt this point, I would suggest a ski mask, but there might be at least one drawback to this. Unless you're on the slopes, you may give your neighbors the wrong impression. With daylight savings time pushing sunset back earlier and earlier, nothing says "Hello, neighbor!" like jogging around the neighborhood, at night in a nice, warm ski mask! (To Mr. Phelps and his Yorkie - I'm sorry!!) For people who regularly work out in cold temperatures, there is an upside. After repeated exposure to colder temperatures, the body will acclimate through the process of habituation (though don't think that drippy and red nose is going anywhere).

In conclusion, it is likely time we accept that we're not penguins with hands or woolly mammoths sans trunks and tusks. No, we're humans, who get cold, red, runny noses. Go inside, have some hot coco and read another one of my blog posts! Or look at cat pictures... because at this point, I'm too cold to care.

Author: K. Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Monday, November 17, 2014
As research continues to point to the links between some of the tiniest organisms on the planet and our health, we learn more and more regarding the vital role microbes play in the immune response. From allergies to skin conditions (like eczema) to gastrointestinal dysfunction, and now tuberculosis (TB), the absence (or presence) of microbes like bacteria can play a critical roles in the development, and increasingly, the cure for these problems.

Old Poster, Solid AdviceAs the latest example of the role bacteria can play in overcoming these diseases, Spanish scientists presented clinical trial results to the 45th Conference on Lung Health in Barcelona. Though this conference or much of the information presented hardly registered a blip in the news, there were many items of importance that surfaced. As previously demonstrated on mice and now hundreds of volunteers, a probiotic derived from a specific bacteria has been shown to moderate the immune response to tuberculosis. When used for two weeks the probiotic essentially teaches the body how to tolerate the mycobacterium tuberculosis preventing the resulting lung infection that is the hallmark of TB.

While the immune system fights disease, in the case of TB, it can actually aid in the progression of the infection. Microphages, a type of white blood cell, engulf and digest debris and microbes within our body. Once the immune system identifies the TB bacteria as a threat, microphages set out to engulf and digest them. Often though, the bacteria isn't destroyed and instead replicates and ultimately kills off the microphage. The probiotic, by encouraging the immune system to ignore the bacteria, reduces its ability to become an active infection and tamps down the inflammation response that is key to this.

While TB was nearly eradicated during the 1950s, thanks to antibiotics, the bacteria has resurfaced in a more virulent active form that is resistant to many of the common antibiotics that have worked in the past. TB affects tens of millions annually and currently requires extensive and often expensive treatments. Culture of TuberculosisThis makes the Nyaditum resae (name of the new probiotic) even more newsworthy since use requires weeks, not months or years, and the projected cost is about $5 (Yup, FIVE BUCKS!). Here in the U.S., the cost to treat TB can range from as low as $17,000 to as high as $430,000 (for the most drug resistant strains). Instances of TB in the U.S. is relatively low, just over 9500 cases in 2013.

Nyaditum resae is to be first available in India where nearly 1.5 million incidences of TB surface annually. While the initial article I came across used the "c" word, as in cure, that is not quite the case. However, if the probiotic can manage to successfully retrain the immune response to the bacteria, it could theoretically prevent the active, contagious form of the disease, and for most, that's just as good as eradicating it.

A full list of abstracts from the 45th World Conference on Lung Health. Probiotics and TB Treatment

More Posts on the Link Between Microbes and Our Health:
Positive Link Between Absence of Gut Bacteria and Allergy Development
Fungi Diversity In Lungs Link to Asthma
Bacteria Triggers Allergic Response?
Hygiene Hypothesis and Stomach Bacteria

Author: K. Gilmore

Figures courtesy of CDC.gov and TBFacts.org

Posted by R. Power on Thursday, November 13, 2014
For about a week now, my cough has escalated to the point where I feel as if I'm about to cough up a lung on my desk. And while I want to run outside and enjoy the crisp late fall air, I simply can't until this cough is gone. I like to stay as natural as possible, so before grabbing the cough syrup, here is what I've been doing to seek relief for my coughing spell.

More Natural Remedies for Your Winter Cough
Good ole Ricola -Their trademark "Magic 10 herbs"(Lemon Balm, Horehound, Elder, Peppermint, Mallow, Sage, Thyme, Lime Flowers, Hyssop & Wild Thyme) all happen to be within the mint (lamiaceae) or mallow (malvaceae) families, with the exception of the Elder. All of these plants seem to have antimicrobial and antioxidant properties to help fight bacterial infections. In my opinion, Ricola's are also delicious so they're not really a burden and taste much better than other cough drops.

Echinacea tea - This was a pleasant surprise! I was recently given a box of tea of what I thought was just peppermint tea (a natural decongestant), but when I opened the box I saw that it was also filled with Echinacea tea! Echinacea is great for your immune system, and has been used by Native Americans for over 400 years as a "cure-all" plant. It contains flavonoids, alkamides, and glyoprotiens, all chemical components that contribute to this aster's therapeutic role in herbal remedies. The combination of these two teas have definitely made my cough easier to deal with.

Local Honey - Honey is a natural cough suppressant. I have many memories of my mom making me and my cousins eat a spoonful of honey, lime juice, and a slice of a beet. I used to whine more than all the rest about this, but now that I'm older the trio isn't bad at all... though I still don't know why the beet was ever added to this mix.

Morning showers - I feel like a completely different person after a hot shower! It helps me loosen up the congestion that's collected in my body throughout the night and lets me drain it all out without feeling dirty or gross afterwards. If I'm feeling really ambitious in the morning, I'll put a few drops of Silk Swan eucalyptus essential oil in a dish and set it in the corner of my shower to aid the decongestion process.

Stadler Form Anton - Cool Mist HumidifierStadler Form Anton humidifier - this compact humidifier has been doing wonders for me this week! As the temperature drops, so does the amount of moisture air can hold, and putting much needed moisture back into the air is where a humidifier can make all the difference. As soon as I started to notice a drop in humidity, I pulled it out of the closet and plugged it in. Already I can feel a difference. Stadler Form humidifiers are nice because some models allow you to use essential oils in the tank, which I love.

Hopefully, with all of this natural relief paired up with plenty of sleep and water, I will be completley cough-free by next week. I think the most helpful tools that I'm using to fight this cough are my Stadler humidifier and the herbal teas. If you are trying to go on a natural path for decongestion and sore throat relief, I highly suggest the humidifier, herbal teas with honey, and plenty of beauty rest!

Author: R. Power

Posted by kevvyg on Friday, November 07, 2014
New and Improved Allergy Armor Polartec Fleece BlanketJust in time for winter, we're rolling out the new and improved Allergy Armor fleece blankets. You may remember the original microfleece blankets. While both the original and the our latest versions were both Polartec fleece, there are several differences between them, not the least of which is the our new blankets are less expensive than before!

Why are they less expensive? There are two main reasons for this. First, the fabric itself is a big reason why we dropped the price. Polartec was finally able to supply us with fabric that was wide enough to eliminate any seams in our blankets. This means they not only look better, but they are quicker and easier for us to sew for you. The other reason is that we simply purchased more raw materials. Larger volume = lower price.

So what are the other differences between these blankets? Aside from the fact that king and queen sizes no longer have seams, there is now an additional color to choose from, so currently your choices are Ivory, Navy, and Light Blue. All are available in Twin, Queen and King sizes. The fabric itself is actually thicker than before. Polartec has long been the leader in American made fleece and textiles built for warmth, and the Polartec 200 fleece is no different. Allergy Armor Polartec Fleece Blanket Now Available in Navy, Ivory, and Light BlueWhile it is still super lightweight, the slightly thicker fleece feels more plush, even after several washes. The way we sew them has also changed. Now each blanket features a hemmed edge for extra durability. So overall, you're getting a better product, with several upgrades, for less money.

There are a few features that have remained the same. First, we use only Polartec fleece, made right here in the U.S.A. Check the tag on the fleece you see in your big box store, and I will almost guarantee you won't see "Made in the USA" on it. Second, each blanket is handcrafted and packaged here in our Atlanta location then shipped to you. Next, all of our Polartec blankets are machine wash and dry. This is important for people with allergies or asthma, as washing your bedding more frequently and in hot water is key to reducing dust mites. Lastly, each blanket won't pill, water resistant, and 6" longer than comparable fleece blankets. So warm up this winter with our new and improved Allergy Armor Polartec blanket!

To see all of our Exclusive Allergy Armor bedding.

Author: KevvyG

Posted by kevvyg on Thursday, November 06, 2014

A comedian I greatly enjoy once described fall like this,

...the weather is completely nonsense. You don’t even have a proper Fall coat. Nothing you wear is right. You wake up, it’s sunny out, you put a coat on, you go out, you’re sweating like a pig, you take it off, then it’s cold. [...] The sun’s out, you’re sweating, but there’s a breeze, so you’re freezing - it’s not weather it’s malaria!"*

Fall Can Bring Some Beautiful Scenery But Make You Feel Like You're on a Rollercoaster... Or Like You're About To Fall Off This CliffIt can certainly feel that way at times! One morning you get up, and it is freezing cold, but that afternoon the temperature can stretch into the mid 70s. The next day you can be greeted by a cool breeze and 22% relative humidity, while two days later can start a week of rain and mild temperatures. It's enough to make you throw up your hands and just go back to bed.

There are two things that make this time of year so frustrating for some. Temperature swings are what we most often feel. Cold in the morning but afternoons can still be very warm. You can find yourself turning the heat off in your home before you leave for work but running the air conditioner in your car on the drive home.

Fall:  All Seasons Wrapped Into One!In addition to temperature being completely neurotic, humidity levels can vary widely. On one hand, it is quickly becoming drier, inside and out. Fall is often punctuated with dry conditions and cooler temperatures that many will first notice from the dry patches of skin appearing on your elbows or chapped lips. On the other hand, days upon days of rain and milder temperatures can make you feel as if you're living inside a refrigerator where it rains every day.

So what do you do? Carry a coat and a jacket? Use your humidifier and dehumidifier? Until we can dial up on-demand weather, it appears this is just the way it's going to be until temperatures finally fall to their usual winter levels. Unlike years past, we're seeing this same dynamic play out later and later in the year.

Interest in products like crawlspace dehumidifiers has remained high, even now, less than two months away from Christmas. With so much rain throughout the Midwest, it's not difficult to understand why people are concerned with mold and insects (which as the temperature drops, begin to make their annual pilgrimage into your home). Dry Air? A Humidifier Can Help!By the same token, home humidifiers have also seen their usual level of interest as people look for ways to combat dry skin, eczema, and sore throats, as well as the flu and other seasonal illness that increase as the humidity and temperature drops.

Regardless of the seasons have in store for us, it's important to remember that we have a great deal of control how we feel during this time of year. Simple things like washing your hands more frequently and getting a good night's sleep can help prevent you from catching the cold or flu while using moisturizers and drinking plenty of water can help keep your skin healthy and resilient. More intensive solutions like using a humidifier can restore comfort to dry indoor air, while a crawlspace or basement dehumidifier can help to make these spaces unfriendly to ants, cockroaches, and other insects. With humidifiers or dehumidifiers, there's a wide variety that ranges in price, size, and even color. Stay healthy, stay warm, and take control!

Want to learn more about how humidity affects the human body?

Author: K. Gilmore

*Thank you Lewis Black!

Posted by kevvyg on Monday, October 20, 2014
Oskar Cool Mist Humidifiers Now in ColorSo maybe they're not quite as colorful as technicolor, but you do now have a wider selection when it comes to choosing the Oskar top-fill humidifier that is right for your home.

Last season, the Oskar humidifiers quickly took their place as some of the most popular humidifiers we offer. From a unique modern design and quiet operation to an easy, top-fill feature and the ability to use nearly any type of water, it's fairly easy to see why the Oskars have been a strong choice amongst those looking to restore moisture and comfort to their homes during the cooler, drier fall and winter months.

Initially, the Oskar was available in white or black with the Oskar Big only being available in black. In addition to those colors, the smaller Oskar (the Economist) is available in Berry and Metal, while the Oskar Big now also comes in white. If you want to learn more about the Oskar Humidifier by Stadler Form for to see the Oskar humidifier in action.

Author: KevvyG

Posted by R. Power on Saturday, October 18, 2014
Allerdent by Allovent ­ImmunotherapyWhile immunotherapy is the most effective method for allergy management, it's more difficult to make it as much of a habit as say, brushing your teeth.... until now? You soon may be able to do just that immunotherapy WHILE brushing your teeth! Allergy patients at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City are currently brushing with Allerdent, a specially formulated immunotherapy toothpaste delevoped by Dr. William Reisacher and Allovate, LLC. Allovate, LLC. is a start up pharmaceutical company, specializing in innovative and improved approaches to allergy immunotherapy. Using Allerdent as their product platform this could be the next big thing to replace our traditional immunotherapy treatments that are currently in use.

Brushing Your Way to Allergy Relief"If you can contact those extracts with the lining of the mouth then you can desensitize patients to those allergens and essentially cure them of their allergies" explains Dr. Reisacher. Allerdent will be customized to each person's needs, containing the specific allergen(s) that the patient is allergic to. Dereck Lacarubba is a patient who currently participates in this Allerdent experiment, and is allergic to cats, dogs, tree pollen and dust. He claims that it works and tastes just like regular fluoride toothpaste. Further, he says it's been helping him with his environmental allergies day after day.

The current options for allergy immunotherapy (IT) are Subcutaneous Immunotherapy (SCIT), better known as allergy shots, or daily Sublingual Immunotherapy Treatment (SLIT), drops under the tongue. However, there are many obstacles that contribute to less than 5% of allergy rhinitis patients actually receiving either of these types of immunotherapy.

Allergy shots are costly, time consuming, weekly visits for three to five years (and we know how long doctor visits take), and the presence of needles is a problem some, both adults and children alike. SLIT drops are to be taken everyday, and placed under you tongue for two minutes. Like birth control or acid reflux medicine, you can't skip a day or else it will not be as effective as it should be. For many, this stringent routine is difficult to maintain. SLIT is also a method that is currently NOT endorsed by the FDA. That lack of endorsement adds some measure of skepticism to this method allergy immunotherapy.

One Habit, Two Positive Benefits?Allerdent is a very innovative yet simple idea, that takes your existing routine, brushing your teeth, and adds in the practice of receiving immunotherapy. This simple yet novel approach is what makes Allerdent so promising. I would love to kill two birds with one stone, keeping my oral hygiene up while having the ability to snuggle up to a cat without the tidal wave of congestion and itchy, watery eyes that currently accompanies it. I'm sure others are also excited to cross off biweekly doctor's visits from their agendas or cease taking medications that aren't currently FDA approved. Either way, novel approaches like this, regardless of outcome, present a new twist to traditional treatment and pavethe way for the better treatments of the future.

For more information about Allovate or Allerdent.

Author: R. Power

Posted by R. Power on Friday, October 17, 2014
After watching the second episode of American Horror Story: Freak Show, Halloween Is the Perfect Time to Discuss How Clowns Creep Many of Us Out!I found a study in this month's Allergy Journal about using "medical clowns" to help entertain and distract children while receiving skin prick tests (SPT) and allergy shots. With Halloween nearly upon us, this blog could not have provided a more opportune time to discuss the fear that clowns instill into both children and adults. Before I get to this though, let's take a look at the study.

Medical Clowns for Allergies - He Seems Like a Happy-Go-Lucky Chap!The Sackler School of Medicine of Tel-Aviv University and the Allergy and Clinical Immunology Unit, Meir Hospital, Kfar-Saba used medical clowns to accompany children during various tests and medical procedures. Researchers concluded in the abstract of their research that "Medical Clowns significantly decrease the level of anxiety perceived by both children undergoing SPT and their parents, as well as pain perceived by young children (Goldberg et al., 2014)".

I'm not sure what kind of clowns they have in Israel, but when I think about clowns, I don't visualize clowns to have a calming presence in any medical situation! Have you been watching American Horror Story?? If you haven't, the scariest character on the show is Twisty the Clown who debuted as a serial killer. Probably NOT the Clown You Want to See for Your Child's Doctor VisitEven prior to Twisty, who wasn't creeped-out by Pennywise the Dancing Clown from Stephen King's IT or Captain Spaulding from the Rob Zombie movies? That's just to name a few.

Even Ronald McDonald and birthday party clowns have been making children and adults uncomfortable for quite some time now. Clowns have enjoyed a long history in this country, but the perception of clowns has dramatically changed for significant portion of the American public. In fact, 20-30% of the US population are fairly uncomfortable with clowns, and ≈2% of the adult population have coulrophobia (fear of clowns).

Yup, Seems Like Nightmare Material to Me!Veteran psychologist, Dr. Brenda Wiederhold who runs a phobia anxiety treatment center in San Diego, CA, explains that coulrophobia starts in early childhood as a pediatric phobia of costumed characters (clowns, the Easter Bunny, etc.) but most people grow out of this fear as they begin to develop the ability to separate fantasy from reality. But even as adults, many are often unsettled by the presence of clowns, particularly from the inability to read genuine emotion and facial expressions that are concealed by face-paint. Of course, Hollywood and media also bear some responsibility for shaping the perception of clowns today, which tend to be manic, a tad bit demonic and unpredictable. That's putting it kindly in many cases.

Not the Clown President, But He Gives Clowns a Good NameCurrently the President of Clowns of America International (Oh dear Lord, they're organized!), Glenn Kohlberg, has expressed his disapproval for American Horror Story's Twisty the Clown character. He does not have a high opinion of Hollywood profiting from the "sensationalism of evil clowns," as stated in The Hollywood Reporter.

Hopefully medical clowns can help rehabilitate the image of clowns, bringing back their original roles as "ambassadors of joy", and weaning the public eye away from their reputation as a character that keeps some of us awake at night. How about you? Are clowns creepy or fun? Would you welcome a clown as a distraction while your child was being administered a skin prick test or allergy shots? Or are you just as disturbed as I am that clowns have an international organization?

For an overview of the medical clown study.

Author: R. Power

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