AchooAllergy.com Blog

News


Posted by kevvyg on Wednesday, August 27, 2014
In the last two years, there has been an incredible amount of research into what is called the human microbiome - the wide variety of microorganisms that live on and in us. It is still a difficult concept for many of us to wrap our heads around, but research has shown that the cells of all the microbes on and inside of us actually outnumber the total cells that make up the human body and by a pretty wide margin. Only recently have we started to consider the larger roles these tiny cohabitants play in our lives and in our health. Last year I wrote a piece about fungi in the lungs and how the types and numbers of them found in those with asthma vs. control patients varied. More recently, a research piece published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) highlights the link between bacteria in the gut and food allergies.

Mice, Peanut Allergies & Gut Bacteria - Probiotic Solution to Food Sensitivities?Researchers started by examining the role gut bacteria play in food sensitivities and food allergies in two groups of mice. Playing on the "hygiene hypothesis" researchers put together one group of mice that were raised in a sterile environment. In the other group, the mice were given a large dose of antibiotics at just two weeks of age. After being given peanut extract, both groups were observed, and from here researchers began introduction specific groups of bacteria to see if they had any effect on the allergic response. Specifically, Bacteroides and Clostridia bacteria groups were the focus, two types that are commonly found in wild mice.

The results were very interesting. First, mice that were given antibiotics showed a high sensitivity to the peanut extract. Antibiotics given early in life have recently been shown to be linked to a myriad Clostridia Bacteria Introduced Into Gut Reduced Peanut Sensitivityof problems later on, including things like the development of allergies and asthma. Of the second group, the reaction to the peanut allergen was even more severe with some showing signs of anaphylaxis. While the introducing Bacteroides into the gut of mice had little effect, Clostridia was another story.

In both groups of mice, the introduction of Clostridia bacteria into the mice resulted in reduced allergic responses to the peanut allergen. This is extremely important for two reasons. First, it shows a link between specific gut bacteria and the development of allergies, again highlighting the link between the microbiome and the health of the animal. Second, these results point toward the potential of treating food allergies with the use of probiotics.

This study also refines the "hygiene theory" somewhat. While traditionally, it was suggested that a lack of exposure to germs and microbes early on could lead to the immune system overreacting to innocuous substances like dust mites, peanuts, or pollen, these results would suggest that a more sterile environment or perhaps even an overuse of antibiotics could lead to less diverse and less numerous gut bacteria, which would in turn be setting the stage for allergen sensitivity.

While the notion of treating allergies or food sensitivities with probiotics are still many years away, this latest research solidifies the link between gut bacteria and allergies. More importantly, it opens the door for potentially novel, new treatments of allergies, asthma and possibly other allergic diseases.

To read the abstract of this study.

Author: KevvyG

Posted by kevvyg on Thursday, August 21, 2014
Tree nut and peanut allergies are some of the most common as well as some of the most commonly discussed food allergies. Without fail, every year we hear at least a handful of stories about those who are severely allergic coming in contact with and ultimately dying from food allergies. The standard way most deal with food allergies is with allergy shots (or another type of desensitization procedure) or strict avoidance. Yet neither is fullproof. A team of researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture are approaching this problem by not changing the person dealing with allergies but instead by changing the food.

Allergy-Free Cashews? Maybe!Allergy-free peanuts? While it may seem a bit farfetched, this is just what they are working on. Started with a cashew extract (oil), researchers are treating the proteins found in the oil with heat and sodium sulfite. You may recognize sodium sulfite, as it's a preservative commonly found in a variety of foods. What this process does is change the molecular look of reaction-causing protein in the cashew, making it more difficult for immunoglobin (IgE - the antibody that kicks off your body's response, aka, allergic reaction) to recognize and bind with the protein.

Test results showed that when mixing unmodified and modified cashew proteins with the IgE of a nut allergic person, 50% fewer of the IgE molecules bonded with the altered proteins. This is important for a few reasons. Even though this isn't the first experiment to attempt this, it is the first that uses a compound generally regarded as safe (GRAS) to disrupt the protein structure of the allergen. It is also important because unlike other treatments, it is aimed at treating the food, not the person. Lastly, its success shows the potential for reducing or possibly even eliminating the binding of IgE to food allergens, the root of the allergic response.

For now results show a allergy-reduced nut, which isn't as helpful a non-allergenic one. However, these results at least point towards the possibility of this as a solution. What's up next for researchers? Modifying whole cashews then ensuring the cashews still taste they way they should! Until then, avoidance remains the best option for most dealing with severe food allergies.

To read the full abstract of the research.

For more information on food allergies.

Author: K. Gilmore

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 R. Power on Friday, May 23, 2014
Once in a while our customer service department receives calls asking what we suggest for traveling with allergies, most often, peanut allergies. As of now there is not much we can say aside from informing your airline of your allergies, wearing a mask and asking your doctor for any additional medical advice. But now we can tell our curious callers to fly with Swiss! Swiss Airlines has proudly earned ECARF (European Centre for Allergy Research Foundation) quality seal of approval in becoming the first allergy-minded airline on the globe!

Switzerland has a history of being a very innovative and efficient country, so it doesn’t surprise me that they would make such an impression with the airline industry as they have done with chocolate, banks and pharmaceuticals.

Here’s what their allergy-minded airline includes to minimize the presence of allergens within the cabin and lounge areas:
  • High efficiency air conditioning to filter out pollen, pet hair and dander and any airborne particulates on board.
  • Removal of air fresheners for flyers with chemical sensitivities.
  • Selection and use of hypoallergenic fabric for upholstered items.
  • In the lavatories they provide soap friendly for those with sensitive skin.
  • Your meal, snack and drink selections are free of glucose, lactose and a variety of other common allergens.
  • Swiss Airline cabin crew members are trained to respond, and are equipped with the histamine tablets in the case of allergic reactions and emergencies.
I think this is a great idea for an airline to specialize a plane for allergy prone travelers. Perhaps this will start a trend for other airlines, especially here in the U.S. If not, well, then twist my arm, I guess I'll have to book a flight to Switzerland to fly allergy-free. On second thought, how would I bring back my precious Swiss chocolate covered cheese snacks?

Author: R. Power

Just a reminder for those local to the Atlanta area, if you have peanut allergies but want to catch a game at Turner field Saturday as part of your Memorial Day Weekend, they do have a Peanut Free Section. Check out the Braves site for more details, and Have a Happy Memorial Day!

Posted by kevvyg on Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Yesterday, a US Food and Drug Administration advisory panel voted not to recommend Primatene HFA for over-the-counter sale. This is the latest in the attempt to bring a bronchodilator back to the over-the-counter market. There were two additional votes on the drug, and the mixed results could be reason for hope in seeing a new bronchodilator on the market in the future.

Primatene Mist - OTC BronchodilatorMany of you may recall seeing Primatene Mist on drugstore and market shelves when you were younger. For me, it was a common occurrence as my cousin, who suffers from severe asthma, would often have this inhaler with him. After spending time in the backyard with my cousins and brothers playing football, he would pull out his inhaler, flip the top and use it if his asthma flared up.

In 2011 Primatene Mist was phased out and removed from store shelves. These pocket-sized inhalers used chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) to propel the epinephrine out and into the lungs of the asthma sufferer. As part of an overall move away from CFC-based propellants, the axe finally fell on Primatene Mist in December of that year. Since then, the manufacturer, Armstrong Pharmaceuticals, has been attempting to gain OTC status for a replacement inhaler, the short-acting beta2-agonist (SABA) bronchodilator, Primatene HFA. Currently, the only forms of this type of drug available are prescribed. If you have asthma, you might be familiar with their names, albuterol and levalbuterol. However, there is some need for an OTC alternative, particularly in case of emergencies or when people run out of their prescription at inopportune times.

In addition to ultimately voting no to OTC use, the 25 member advisory panel also voted on the efficacy and safety of the new inhaler. While there is still another ongoing clinical trial, the panel discussed the results of two other clinical trials that showed significant results. On a vote over the efficacy, 14 yes votes won out.

Lastly, the panel discussed and voted on the safety of the proposed drug. Like most drugs, Primatene HFA did show some side effects, though even with the most severe side effect being tremors, all cases were mild. Other side effects were infrequent. A larger safety issue was likely found in the correct use of the inhaler. While the new inhaler uses an ozone-friendly propellant, the new formula is a suspension that can settle. Consequently, the inhaler must be primed four times before the first use and twice after two weeks of nonuse. It must also be washed and dried each day, and both of these present significant hurdles when it comes to ease-of-use and proper use. With regard to labeling, some members felt that patients may be led to believe that it is for daily use when only actually intended for intermittent use. All of these things resulted in 17 panel members voting no, in terms of safety.

The end result, for now, is that the new Primatene HFA will not be in pharmacy and store shelves any time soon, but the drug does show promise. It does work, and there is a need for it. Undoubtedly, Armstrong will revisit the inhaler and attempt to address issues of misuse or mishandling.

Author: K. Gilmore

Posted by R. Power on Monday, February 10, 2014
Immunotheraphy Treatment Offers Hope for Peanut Allergy SufferersMothers with children who have peanut allergies can find hope for relief in recent allergy studies. In a study recently published in the Lancet, Dr. Andrew Clark and his team conducted clinical trials testing immunotherapy treatments for children with peanut allergies. A treatment group of children with this allergy were fed small yet increasing amounts of peanut flour for a 6 month period. After the treatment, over 80% of the children were able to safely eat the equivalent of 5 peanuts a day, which is at least 25 times the quantity of peanut protein they could tolerate before the experiment. "As kids take an increasing amount, their immune systems start to change," said Dr. Clark. "They can tolerate peanuts more robustly."

Immunotherapy has been a successful form of allergy relief for wasp-sting allergies and grass pollen. At its core, immunotherapy is a long, slow process of reintroducing tiny amounts of a particular allergen to patients. Over time, the amounts of the substance patients ingest or are exposed to increases with that hope of leading to a higher, long term tolerance of the allergen. With regard to peanut allergies, this has been the most successful study so far, and gives hope to parents who are constantly on the lookout for even trace amounts of peanuts that can send the severely allergic into anaphylactic shock. In the future this type of treatment could relieve much of the worry associated with trace amounts of allergens causing severe reactions and help lift many of the precautionary diet restrictions those with food allergies often have to impose.

While we wait for more research, long term test results, and potential FDA approval for this treatment, avoidance remains one of the best options for those dealing with food allergies. Though peanut butter might not be one the menu just yet, here are some Peanut/ nut substitute suggestions without the risk of allergic reactions.
  • Sunflower seed butter
  • Soy nut butter
  • Hummus
All of these substitutes are easily found in local grocery stores, generally near the peanut butters. If any of you readers have suggestions on sunflower seed butter or soy nut butter brands, let me know, I’d love to try!

Author: R. Power

Posted by kevvyg on Tuesday, February 04, 2014
Circassia LTD - SPIRE Treatment - Cat AllergiesThis is a topic we've mentioned before throughout the years and originally back in 2011, a novel treatment for cat allergies that is less invasive, less time consuming and as effective as more traditional allergy shots. British drug maker, Circassia LTD, is currently accepting patients for a phase-three clinical trial with this new treatment. What does this mean for those with cat allergies? Potentially - a lot.

Like traditional allergy shots, the idea behind the treatment is to desensitize people who are allergic to cats. The big difference between this and traditional shots is two-fold. First, the shots are not subcutaneous, meaning they are more shallow and do not go beneath the skin. Second, the length of the proposed treatment would be significantly shorter, four to eight months as opposed to the more traditional three to five years worth of shots. This can not only make the process more convenient but hopefully less costly and invasive.

The current trial is accepting people who have had cat allergies for at least two years, have a cat living at home with them, and are between the ages of 12 and 65. As the largest clinical study of this treatment to date, the CATALYST (Cat Allergy Study) is accepting over 1100 volunteers from seven countries.

For people coping with cat allergies, this could be a dramatic step forward in treatment. Often times allergists recommend removing your cat from the household, and as one of the most common household pets, those with cat allergies often have allergic reactions outside of their own homes. One of the Most Common Household Allergens - Cat DanderCat dander is one of the smallest of common household allergens, and to make matters worse, it's "sticky". This means that in places where cats have been, it's often extremely difficult to remove cat dander since it adheres to walls, furnishings, and flooring, nearly everything in a room. Nearly one in three households have cats. In addition to allergies, there is also a link to asthma reactions and cats, with one study showing over a quarter of asthma attacks being triggered by cat allergen. So, the potential that a shorter, less invasive and successful treatment holds a great deal of hope for the millions with allergies or asthma.

The basis of the treatment is the proprietary ToleroMune technology. Molecules called SPIRES (Synthetic Peptide Immuno-Regulatory Epitopes) generate regulatory T cells. These T cells control the allergic response and stimulate tolerance of specific allergens.

Circassia is also working on a similar treatment for dust mite allergies, and back in September of 2013 they announced results of their phase-two trials. In this study, patients who had received four doses of the treatment over 12 weeks showed significant improvement one year after the start of the trial. This smaller phase-two study will likely in the steps of the cat allergy trials. With success, they will move on to larger, clinical, phase-three trials. In addition dust mites, Circassia has also finished phase-two trials of the same treatment for ragweed and grass allergies.

While we continue to patiently wait and hope, avoidance and more traditional measures, like the use of a high quality HEPA air purifier or antihistamines remain some of the best way to reduce allergic reactions to cat.

For more information on these phase-three clinical trials, contact your local certified allergist or visit the clinicaltrials.gov website

Author: K. Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Monday, January 20, 2014
Wet Conditions Early, Making Cedar Pollen Season Miserable NowIt's winter time, and while many of us are struggling with bouts of bitter cold and snow, for some this is prime allergy season. It may seem counterintuitive for allergies, especially any type of pollen allergies, to be worse during the winter months, but one type in particular causes problems for many through the winter months. Making matters worse is that many mistake their allergies for a cold or the flu. (Like something out of an old comic strip, "Is it a cold? Is it the flu? No, it's cedar allergies!") So what's aggravating your allergies? If you live in the Southwest, it could very likely be cedar.

Cedar or mountain cedar pollen is actually a type of Juniper. These trees often soak up summer and fall rains then in December and January begin releasing pollen. With rains being heavier than usual throughout much of the South, the cedar pollen levels are higher than usual in places like North and Central Texas.

Like many allergies, cedar pollen can produce symptoms that are often mistaken for the cold or flu. Runny nose, headache, and sneezing are all common with cedar pollen allergies. While these often typify the common cold, check with your allergist or physician if these symptoms are persistent. For those thinking they have a touch of the flu, do you notice a fever or severe body aches? If neither of these are present, then you're likely dealing with a cold or allergies, not the flu.

Coping with cedar allergies can be a tough task, particularly with higher than usual pollen counts and winds spreading the allergen far and wide. One avoidance measure you can take is using an allergy mask. Thiscan help to block the pollen, and all masks do retain some heat, so during the colder winter months, they can also help cut down on cold weather induced asthma. Not many people have their windows open this time of year but think about replacing your HVAC filter. This can help to keep dust and pollen levels down in the home. Check with your allergist or doctor. If you've skipped by some preventative measures and find yourself feeling miserable, your doctor can help. From allergy shots to antihistamines, there are a variety of treatments available to help get you feeling better sooner.

For more information of juniper pollen.

Author: K. Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Monday, December 30, 2013
WellaPets - Kids Games About AsthmaAre you the parent of a child with asthma? Would you be interested in trying a new app/game that is not only entertaining for your child but also teaches them about asthma triggers, treatment and how to better manage asthma? In development by LifeGuard Games, there is a fun, new app that needs your input - WellaPets.

You start by creating a virtual pet, and in this case, a tiny fire-breathing dragon. But here's the catch. Your little dragon has asthma and can't breathe fire like the other dragons, at least, not initially. The game takes you through a series of challenges and a variety of mini-games that teach your child not only some tips for controlling your pet's asthma, like through the use of an inhaler, but also points out triggers throughout the home that can aggravate your dragon's asthma. So with the virtual pet, your child can learn, explore, and interact, all while managing a pet with the player's chronic condition - asthma.

Screen Shot of WellaPetsThough game is fun and interactive, the educational aspects are blended in and help reinforce general knowledge about asthma but also focus on themes like self-efficacy (taking control of and managing your condition) and communication with parents.

There is science behind this, and research about similar games for children and young adults coping with diabetes and even cancer have shown positive results.

So if you have a young child dealing with asthma and would like to help by trying the game and giving some feedback, there's just three easy steps.
  1. Sign up here
  2. After you've signed up, use the mobile device that you want to play on (ie. iPad) and visit TestFlight to complete the process
  3. Play the game for two weeks and fill out the survey when you're finished!
This week you can complete steps 1 and 2. The game and survey questions will be sent out very soon (first week in January).

For more information about WellaPets.

Author: KevvyG

Tags: Asthma
Posted by kevvyg on Thursday, November 21, 2013
Link Between Asthma and Fertility?There are a variety of connections between allergic disease. Asthma linked allergies, eczema linked to asthma, etc. but one interesting relationship that has not been studied too much is the link between asthma and infertility. It has long been noted that women who suffer from asthma often have a more difficult time conceiving, but there has been little research to study this connection. Researchers in Denmark recently published a study focused specifically on women with asthma which more clearly demonstrates this association.

Using a group of 15,000 twins, Danish researchers looked at things like time to pregnancy, the outcomes of those pregnancies in wide range of the participants, including those with asthma, allergies and people that lacked both of these. Even when researchers adjusted for differences in things like socioeconomic status, body mass index, and other factors, an association between asthma, how well the asthma was being treated and time to pregnancy emerged.

The shortest time to pregnancy, TTP, was demonstrated in women without asthma. The longest TTP was for women over 30, with asthma that wasn't being treated. These two variables, treatment of asthma and age, also played a role in the association. Asthmatic women who were over 30 generally tended to see a longer TTP than those who were under the age of 30. And, women who's asthma was untreated, also tended to see longer TTP than those who were treating their condition.

While not definitive, this study highlights a few things. First, if you're a woman with asthma, treat it. Not only can effectively treating your asthma improve your quality of life, but it make lessen the effect that asthma has on fertility. Second, age matters. The older you get, the greater impact allergic disease, like asthma, can have. Lastly, the study broadly indicates that a systematic disease that can create systematic inflammation (like asthma) can have an effect on a seemingly unrelated process like reproduction.

To read the abstract of this study.

Author: K. Gilmore

Tags: Asthma
Page: 1 of 27

* Sign Up For Monthly Newsletter to Receive Special Discount *


Air Pollution Masks Allergies Asthma Allergy Bedding Allergy Armor Peanut Allergy Bedbugs Dust Mites Seasonal Allergy Steam Cleaners Humidity Control Mold Mold Prevention Pet Allergies Allergy Pillows Austin Air Neti Pot Nasal Irrigation Soy Allergy Allergy Research Allergy Study Tree Nut Allergy Food Allergies Eczema Mattresses Organic Blanket Miele Vacuums Pet Dander Dyson Pet Hair Humidifiers Dehumidifiers IQAir Ladybug Danby VOC's IAQ Blueair Smog Wildfires Electrolux SEBO AllerAir Cigarette Smoke Sinusitis Achoo Newsletter Vacuum Cleaners Air Purifiers Valentine's Day Reliable Steam Mop Aprilaire Dri-Eaz Air-O-Swiss Humidity Pollen Count HEPA Filter Allergy Relief Anaphylaxis Auto Injector Winter Allergies Allergy Friendly Allergy Mask Pollen Mattress Pad Memory Foam New Product Fleas Atlanta How To FAQ Video Nebulizer Formaldehyde Toulene Achoo Promotion Ozone FDA Furnace Filter Ogallala Bedding MCS Hypoallergenic Down Tobacco Smoke Whirlpool ragweed Asthma Drug RZ Mask Organic Bedding Respro Better Sleep Immunotherapy Genetically Modified Environmental Control Sunscreen Vanicream BPA Phthalates Feminine Health Ask An Allergist Stadler Form Crane Humidifiers Antimicrobial COPD Recipes EcoDiscoveries Baby Allergy Products Santa Fe Dehumidifiers Vaping SLIT Vogmask Holidays
Shop Items On Sale At AchooAllergy.com