AchooAllergy.com Blog
Posted by kevvyg on Thursday, July 31, 2014
Since my last blog on the topic of e-cigarettes, a lot has happened with developing research and regulations (state and federal), as well as the addition of U.S. tobacco companies into this rapidly expanding market. As the sales of vaporizers and flavored nicotine rapidly spread, research regarding health effects and regulation of this product are struggling to keep up. So where do we stand now, and how are regulation and research efforts changing the growth of this product? Before we delve into that, let's recap what we covered last time.

E-Cigarettes Look Like They're Here to StayAround 2007, e-cigarettes hit the US market as a smoking trend that was quickly billed as an alternative method for traditional cigarette smokers to wean themselves off of cigarettes, in an effort to quit altogether. With this stated purpose, they were even favored by former American Lung Association CEO Charles D. Connor as a smoking-cessation tool, as well as pathologist and Editor at Large of Medscape Medical News, who stated, "But many tightly hooked addicts need replacement drugs. E-cigarettes provide that replacement nicotine on the way to tobacco abstinence, or at least to far fewer inhalations of burned tobacco. That is undeniably a good thing."

Fairly quickly though, non-smokers began taking to this new, safer alternative to traditional cigarettes, but with no federal or state regulations, minors also had easy access to them through gas stations and e-cig salons that beganpopping up all over major cities in the US.

Research on electronic cigarettes is giving us more clarity on potential risks and will help answer some of the questions regarding their health effects of benefits, relative to regular cigarettes. As of now, there are a few factors that highlight potential risks. We know these products are predominantly shipped from China, where regulation and quality can be uncertain. We also know there are potential risks with inhaling nicotine, battery and propylene glycol vapors in liquid nicotine, aka "e-juice". There have been numerous instances of tobacco poisoning that have occurred from absorbing or ingesting e juice. The American Association of Poison Control has reported a 219% increase in nicotine poisoning cases, from e-cigarette devices and liquid nicotine, between 2012 and 2013. Sadly, more than half of Some of the More Standard E-Cig Flavorsthese incidents have involved children under six years old, theoretically because of the sweet flavors and vibrant colors of e-juice. Kids either, open the bottle and eat it, or the cap comes off and leaks, or the holding chamber leaks the liquid nicotine. When absorbed through the skin it can cause nausea, vomiting and headaches.

Since June of 2014, the FDA has been hustling to create regulations for "electronic cigarettes and other non-combustible tobacco products, pathways to market for proposed deemed tobacco products and compliance dates for certain provisions". They are encouraging public participation and allowing the public to submit comments and regulating suggestions on http://www.regulations.gov (Federal Register Number 2014-14562/ RIN: 0910-AG38) , until August 8th 2014.

While FDA regulations are underway, U.S. tobacco companies are positioning themselves to take advantage of this predicted $1.7 billion annual market. In the same month the FDA began framing out e-cig regulations, R.J. Reynolds started its campaign as the first U.S. made e-cigarette manufacturer. Although stability and quality control are benefits to having the products made here in the U.S., there is still concern over the marketing of these products. From what we already know about traditional tobacco marketing strategies, they tend to focus on the youth (candy cigarettes, now banned flavored cigarettes, cartoonish characters, sweet/candy-like flavors of smokeless tobacco etc.), the plethora of liquid nicotine flavors now available would seem to make it much easier to attract younger customers. It's worth noting that smoking trends in the U.S. have been consistently falling for years, and the primary driver of growth for tobacco companies has been through market consolidation and overseas markets.

While research and regulation continue to evolve, this new market expands. Where do we go from here? Regulation is almost certainly coming down the pipe, but solid research on the efficacy of e-cigarettes as a safe alternative to smoking may be years away, as are long term studies on health effects. Dubious marketing practices, a relatively unknown product and uncertain long term health consequences complicate an already thorny issue.

Author: R. Power

Posted by kevvyg on Thursday, July 24, 2014
Vaccines have often been the subject of potential treatments for allergies, and as we've discussed before, a UK firm, Circassia, has been through several stages of testing a vaccine for cat allergies. Research recently released by a team working at the University of Iowa's College of Pharmacy takes the idea of an allergy vaccine and puts a new twist on it. It's this novel approach that is not only showing positive results but providing new hope for the tens of millions that cope with the dust mite allergy on a daily basis.

New Dust Mite Vaccine on the Horizon?Similar to the mechanism used with successful cancer vaccines, the new dust mite vaccine uses an adjuvant (an agent that enhances the body's immune response) in addition to the antigen (the substance that actually induces the immune system to produce antibodies). The way this works is a package (of the adjuvant and antigen) is introduced to a patient. The adjuvant essentially raises the alarm, calling the immune system forward to what it perceives as an "all hands on deck" situation. The immune system absorbs and disposes of the package, but the tangible result of this is speeding up the adsorption process and increasing the rate of absorption of the vaccine.

In this instance, the adjuvant (CpG) was packaged with the vaccine and given to mice. Not only was the package absorbed 90% of the time but subsequent daily exposure to the dust mite allergen Dust Mites Under a Microscope - The Most Common Allergy & Asthma showed higher production of antibodies and lower rates of lung inflammation. While more research is needed, this outcome is one of the very best that researchers could have hoped for.

With nearly 10% of the population allergic to dust mites, they are easily among the most common allergens on the planet. Often found in mattresses, carpet, upholstered furniture and bedding, dust mites are microscopic pests that feed on dead skin cells. They are one reason why your mattress can double in weight after ten years of use. Millions of these tiny creatures call your mattress home, and it is their tiny decomposing body parts and feces that cause the sneezing, wheezing, congestion, and coughing that are commonly associated with dust mite allergies.

The most common methods of coping with dust mite allergies often include a mix of several things, including allergen avoidance (the use of quality allergy bedding covers or a HEPA air purifier, more frequent cleaning and removal of carpet from the home), medication to the treat the symptoms (most commonly antihistamines), and allergy shots (to increase the tolerance of the allergen). Each of these tackle different aspects of the allergy, and even with promising research such as this, a vaccine or simpler longterm solution is still likely several years away.

Building Blocks - MoleculesFor more information, see the official University of Iowa press release.

Author: K. Gilmore

P.S. Just in case you were wondering what CpG stands for... the "C" is for cytosine triphospate deoxynucleotide. The "G" is for guanine triphosphate deoxynucleotide, and the "p" is for the phosphodiester that links the two nucleotides. You may recognize cytosine and guanine. They are two of the four bases of DNA (along with adenine and thymine), and that concludes today's biology lesson!

Posted by kevvyg on Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Reliable Enviromate Premium Steam Cleaners $100 Discount
Reliable Enviromate EV1 Tandem Steam Cleaner Now $100 Off with Free EMC2 System UpgradeApparently Reliable thinks that this summer is the year you finally make the decision for a healthier home and a greener way to clean by purchasing a Reliable steam cleaner. As if the $100 discount on Reliable Enviromate premium steam cleaners wasn't enough incentive, they are now adding in their patented EMC2 system for free with Tandem and E40 steam cleaner models.

Reliable manufacturers a wide range of steam cleaners, from the economical to some of the most versatile steam cleaners available. Steam cleaning is a relatively newer way to clean here in the U.S., but its benefits are hard to overstate, particularly for those who have allergies, asthma, MCS or are sensitive to the harsh odors and residues left from traditional chlorine or ammonia-based Reliable EV1 Steam Cleaner Sale - Steam Cleaner & HEPA Vacuum All-in-One home cleaners. Unlike traditional cleaning methods, steam cleaners offer you the ability to completely rethink the way you clean. No longer do you simply clean so your home appears clean, Reliable steam cleaners give you the ability actually improve the health of your home, safely, effectively and without the problems associated with introducing more and more chemicals into your home environment.

Using simple tap water that has been heated under pressure to create powerful, clean vapor steam, steam cleaners use the process of heat transfer to deep clean and sanitize surfaces, killing germs, viruses and bacteria while loosening heavy solid and ground in debris. Steam cleaners can also unlock trapped odors molecules and chemical residue that fill the pores of even hard surfaces. Reliable steam cleaners to do all this without the use of harsh chemicals.

Two of the three models now on sale will also come equipped with the Reliable EMC2 system for free. This patented system softens hard tap water without the use of sodium, which over time can damage the water tanks and heating elements of a steam cleaner. Instead, this process breaks apart and crystallizes mineral Reliable Enviromate E40 Steam Cleaners Sale - Now $100 Off with Free EMC2 System Upgradecontent into smaller pieces that won't settle in the bottom of the tank or form scale inside the steam creating system. This means no residue in your tank or on the surfaces you clean!

Clean better. Clean and sanitize for a home that not only looks clean but truly is cleaner and healthy. Take advantage of this limited time offer and purchase the premium Reliable E40 GO steam cleaner or the dual use, steam cleaner and HEPA vacuum in one, Reliable EV1 Tandem.

Author: Kevin Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Thursday, July 17, 2014
Back in 2012, I highlighted a study that was presented at the European Respiratory Society conference that focused on the link between the use of common asthma treatments and a child's height. In this study, researchers examined the use of budesonide, a corticosteroid that is the active ingredient in Pulmicort, a commonly prescribed asthma medication. This morning, two new studies were released that further the correlation between lower growth velocity and the use of corticosteroids.

Inhaled Corticosteroids - Dosage Effects Child GrowthCorticosteroids are commonly prescribed for persistent, moderate to severe asthma. Often inhaled, this type of drug is used to prevent asthma attacks. While the previous study focused on one particular corticosteroid, these latest studies expanded that to include six and five, respectively, different types of inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) drugs.

In the first study, six ICS and 25 trials involving nearly 8500 children were reviewed. Over the course of a year, there was about a .5 cm difference in growth between children who used ICS and those who used placebos or non-steroidal drugs. This review suggests much the same as the one mentioned in 2012, that though small, there is some reduction in growth velocity and overall height associated with the use of ICS. And again now, as then, the lead author of this most recent review suggests that the benefits of using ICS to control moderate to severe asthma outweighs this minimal, but significant, reduction in growth velocity.Inhaled Corticosteroids Effect Child's Height

In the second study, 22 trials were reviewed, with the main focus being the effect of low to medium doses on ICS on growth velocity. While the information collected was incomplete in the majority of the trails examined, a correlation between growth velocity and the amount of ICS administered was observed. Simply put, those with low dose ICS treatments experienced a smaller reduction in growth velocity than those who were treated with larger doses of ICS.

Overall, both studies highlight two points and further refine previous research. First, inhaled corticosteroids do have an impact on height/growth velocity. This is not limited to a particular type of corticosteroid and appears with many of the most common ones. Second, higher doses of ICS correlate with less growth. The smaller the dose, the less the effect on a child's height. Again though, it's worth repeating that they're not talking a major reduction in height, fractions of a centimeter annually. Most professionals who have either conducted these studies or have read them still agree that the benefits of ICS in controlling moderate to severe asthma outweigh this small reduction in height.

Studies like these are important for a few reasons. They highlight a potential side effect that has been previously not known or often discussed. It is also good to remember that these studies show results that effect more than just those who are coping with asthma. Some of the drugs used in the studies were beclomethasone dipropionate, budesonide, ciclesonide, flunisolide, fluticasone propionate and mometasone fumarate. These are the active ingredients used in common asthma AND allergy medications like
  • Symbicort
  • Pulmicort
  • Elocon
  • Flonase
  • Veramyst
  • Alvesco
  • Omnaris
  • Omnair
They also highlight the importance of what we do here at AchooAllergy. If blocking dust mites in your bedding or replacing carpet with hard flooring or using a high quality, HEPA air purifier reduces irritants in the home, the net benefit may likely be less reliance on medication and a lower risk of having to deal with the side effects. If your child has been diagnosed with moderate to severe asthma and inhaled corticosteroids are recommended, you should have a discussion with your doctor, and as is often the case with medication, the lowest dose that provides relief is the best dose.

To read more about the larger study of ICS on growth rates or the study of ICS doses and growth rates.

Author: Kevin Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Wednesday, July 16, 2014
A recently published case report in the journal Pediatrics takes aim at some of our most commonly used devices as a potential source for skin problems. While it can be argued that a lot of us spend too much time with our faces and hands firmly affixed to laptops, tablet and smart devices, the case of an 11-year-old San Diego boy highlights the potential for allergic reactions to these same devices. How can my iPad make me itch? One word, nickel.

Nickel allergies are not entirely uncommon, and for those who deal with them, jewelry, belts, and even piercings can cause allergic reactions. This latest case means you can now add electronic devices to that list. Electronics, like the iPad contain some amount of nickel in the metal case the encloses the back of the device, and exposure, as was the case with the boy in San Diego, can cause problems that are easily misidentified.

For nearly six months, the child struggled with a persistent, generalized rash (contact dermatitis). Despite using the same allergy creams he had in the past, there was no positive results. After being admitted to UC San Diego's Rady Children's Hospital, a skin patch test showed a nickel allergy, and further sleuth work by the attending physicians discovered the link to a 2010 model iPad the child was using at home.

What does this all mean? Well, if you don't have a nickel allergy, not much. If you do have a nickel allergy, you shouldn't toss your favorite electronics. There is one really easy way avoid exposure while still using nickel containing electronics - cover them. With the iPad, a protective cover that encloses the back of the device not only shields you from the nickel in the metal housing, but it also protects the device from drops and spills. The same is true for smart phones that may contain nickel. There are a variety of protective covers that can not only prevent you from having to deal with problems related to nickel exposure but also protect what is often no small investment. So much like any item containing nickel, avoidance is key, but that doesn't mean you have to give them up.

For more information of nickel allergies.

Author: K. Gilmore

Tags: Allergies
Posted by R. Power on Friday, July 11, 2014
Sadly, My Vision of WineMaking and Reality Are NOT the SameAt the end of a stressful day, I like to go out on my porch with a glass of wine and enjoy the relative peace. It is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day pace of things and fail to set aside a little time to simply unwind or decompress. Recently, I came across an article that discussed the use "fining agents" that caused me to rethink my evening glass of wine.

Eggs are used in wine production? All along I thought my glass of wine was made from grapes in a barrel sprinkled with some yeast. After doing some research, I discovered that not just eggs, but other fining agents are used to remove suspended proteins and solids from wine. These substances clarify the wine before being bottled. So while looking at my Riesling, I wonder if people with egg allergies are able to enjoy a little wine without fear of reactions.

So what are some of the fining agents used in the winemaking process? Here are a few of the most common things you might have never expected to be used in wine production.
  • Egg Whites - The albumen found in egg whites is used to clarify red wines during barrel aging. This is the oldest fining method in winemaking.
  • A Nice Port WineChitosan - Composed of exoskeletons of crustaceans (shrimp, crab, shellfish), is a very common agent for finishing white wines.
  • Gelatine (gelatin) - Derived from animal protein, it is recommended for red wines to help reduce excessive tannins and astringency.
  • Isinglass - Made from collagen, a protein extracted from the swim bladders of fish. It's a very gentle fining agent, as it does not strip the flavor of the whites and blushes.
  • Casein - Not necessarily used for fining, but used to clarify white wines.
Technically, after racking (separating the fining agents and collected solids from the wine), there should be no fining agents in the wine. This means that by the time the wine reaches the bottling stage, any additional substances should be removed. However, due to the potential risk of allergic reactions from fined wines, the European Union requires all foods with potential allergens to be labeled accordingly. As of now, labeling potential allergens in the United States is voluntary but there has been current debate on whether it will be obligatory in the future.

For those who are highly allergic to lactose/dairy, eggs, or shellfish or for vegetarians and vegans, the best way to enjoy a bottle of wine without compromising your health is to check the labels, and try to stick with Old World wines (European). Cheers!

Author: R. Power

Posted by R. Power on Wednesday, July 02, 2014
With the 4th of July upon us, for many people, it's time to get out and enjoy some fresh air. From time with family to extended vacations, millions of us will be heading outside and enjoying the local park, greenway and hiking trails. Spending time out and about isn't without some risk though. Aside keeping your pets free of ticks and you free of mosquitoes, one of the most common things you will come across outdoors is poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac. Here are some tips on how to spot these rash-inducing plants and avoid itching, swelling and annoyances they can cause.

These plants are all in the genus Toxicodendron (Greek for "poison tree") and contain a resin called urushiol. Urushiol is found in the resin canals of leaves, stems, vines, berries and roots of the plants. When parts of these plants are damaged (stepped on, torn, bruised, etc.) the resin is released. Poison Ivy - The Most Common of the Three It is this resin that causes varying degrees of contact dermatitis for many of us.

Although the resin in these plants is consistent all year round, the probability of coming into contact with your skin is higher in the summer. Why? Summer weather is when we tend to spend more time outdoors in shorts and t-shirts. Plus, it's more difficult to damage a plant when it's buried under a foot of snow.

Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans)

"Leaves of three, let it be."
  • Groups of three green leaves that change to yellow and red in the fall.
  • As a deciduous woody perennial (can have woody stems and grow back annually) it can grow in the form of low lying plants, shrubs or as a vine. So no tree hugging!
  • Poison Oak - Looks Like White Oak Leaves, Only MUCH ItchierThey can grow anywhere, and are found in woodlands, wetlands, on road sides, and seemingly just about anywhere.
Poison Oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum)
  • Basically the same as poison ivy, but with a set of three leaves that look like the round, white oak leaves.
  • The urushiol causes a delayed allergic reaction with the body's immune system, so the worst symptoms won't appear until days or weeks later. Unfortunately this gives more time for the skin to absorb the resin.
Poison Sumac (Toxicodendron Toxicodendron vernix)
  • Can grow as a shrub to a small tree (small being approximately 30 feet high).
  • Leaves have 7-13 leaflets, and are two to four inches long, with a similar shape as the poison ivy.
  • Tend to grow in very wet soils, such as swamps and peat bogs along the east coast and into Canada.
  • Poison Sumac - Least Common But Most HarmfulAlthough not as widely distributed as poison ivy and poison oak, it's much more potent than the other two.
For preventative measures, wear high wool socks and pants (if the weather isn't too unbearable), long sleeves and disposable gloves while outdoors to avoid any low lying toxicodendron species. Learn how to identify these plants so when you're trailblazing you won't have your outdoor adventures hampered by these itchy plants. If you notice that you've come in contact with these, try to wash the affected area with cool water and a mild soap as quickly as possible. The oil can sit on your skin and continue to create problems over larger areas for up to two days. In general, if you've been outdoors, it never hurts to wash your hands, arms and legs when you come in (besides it literally only takes a few minutes).

If you already find yourself itching or blistering, take comfort in calamine lotions or hydrocortisone creams. Take a few minutes to clean your nail beds in case you've gotten any of the resin underneath your nails. Some people will develop large, sensitive blisters. While the fluid in the blisters cannot spread the itch, popping them can lead to more severe problems, like infection or even blood poisoning. Blisters are the body’s natural way of healing certain types of wounds, so let your body's natural healing mechanism do its job. If you experience severe reactions or massively large rashes, you should take a trip to a doctor.

Just remember, "leaves of three, let it be", wear the right clothing when outdoors, and wash exposed areas when you can. If you want to completely avoid any of these pesky plants just stay by the pool side, on the golf/tennis courts, or at Six Flags. Enjoy your summer eveyone!

Author: R. Power

Posted by kevvyg on Tuesday, July 01, 2014
Miele FreshAir Allergy Vacuum CleanersHere at AchooAllergy, we have long touted the filtration of Miele vacuums and how they are particularly helpful for those dealing with allergies, asthma, COPD or other respiratory issues. Others know Miele as a durable luxury vacuum brand with products that display the latest in innovation and style. The two new FreshAir Miele vacuums are the perfect blend of both of these realities.

The Miele FreshAir vacuum cleaners share many common features. They both feature the Miele AirClean System of filtration. This 12-stage system quietly and efficiently removes all visible dirt and dust that the vacuum sucks up and has been independently tested to remove 99.99% of particles 0.1 microns and larger. Both also feature the workhouse, Miele Vortex motor that provides more suction Miele S8 Fresh Air Allergy Vacuum Cleanerwith less noise than comparable motors in uprights or canisters. Three mini-accessories that tuck away neatly into the body of each vac are also included as is Miele's super-quiet operation, self-sealing filterbags, durable ABS construction, and superior warranty. Lastly, both are Arctic White, which is only fitting for a pair of HEPA vacuums as hygienic as these.

The main difference between these two vacuums is mainly in that one is an upright while the other, a canister vacuum. This also means the cleaning head of each is different, as the upright is geared specifically for those with carpet while the canister is targeted for mainly smooth floors.

The independently-driven brushroll of the Miele S7 Fresh Air upright deep cleans while automatic height adjustment raises and lowers the cleaning head depending on the Miele S7 Fresh Air Allergy Vacuum Cleaner surface. Flip the brushroll off and you can use suction only to clean smooth floors with this versatile upright. With the canister, the STB 205-3 powerhead uses Miele's suction to power the brushroll and clean low pile carpet and rugs while the included combination AllTeQ tool performs well on smooth surfaces of all types. The bag capacity will be higher with the upright, but the Miele FreshAir S8 canister has the auto-rewind feature for the power cord and foot operated suction control.

In all, both showcase the core features that make most Miele vacuum cleaners not only luxury home appliances but vacuums built specifically for those who want a cleaner, healthier home. Both are priced at $599 and are delivered the next day for free!

To see our full line of Miele premium vacuum cleaners.

Author: Kevin Gilmore

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