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Allergies Articles, Tips and Information

Gluten Allergy

News about the harmful effects caused by gluten allergy has caused many people to completely remove gluten (wheat) from their diet.  However, much of the alarm over gluten allergy and gluten intolerance is unnecessary, not to mention unfounded, since a lot of aspects of these two conditions remain largely misunderstood.

But take note that gluten is only one of the many proteins contained in wheat, rye, and barley.

First, what is gluten?


Gluten is an elastic, rubbery protein commonly found in wheat and wheat products. It can also be found in rye, barley, and, to a lesser degree, oats. But gluten can’t be found in rice or maize.

Have you noticed how breads and other baked goods are doughy before they are subjected to heat? The substance that causes that “doughy” characteristic is actually gluten. Gluten also contributes to spongy consistency.


What types of adverse reactions are possible?


Gluten could cause several adverse reactions besides gluten allergy. It is often blamed for intolerance (in this case, wheat intolerance, gluten intolerance, and Coeliac disease). But keep in mind that different mechanisms cause different adverse reactions.


Often, the cause of the confusion is in the similarities of the symptoms. But while gluten intolerance often causes painful symptoms, it rarely is life-threatening. The worst that could happen with gluten intolerance is migraines and bloating or skin rashes.


On the other hand, gluten allergy is largely immunological and, in extreme cases, could lead to death or a condition called anaphylaxis. The symptoms of gluten allergy include swelling of the lips and tongue, red rash, asthma, and urthicaria or hives.


How does gluten allergy occur?


The allergy occurs after the immune system produces large quantities of the antibody immunoglobulin E (IgE) which binds themselves with mast and basil cells, producing inflammation-causing histamine.


The first time your body encounters gluten, it doesn’t yet react adversely to it, but the immune system tags it as a “bad” substance and keeps track of its codes for its own records, in a process called sensitization. The next time gluten is introduced in the body, your sensitized immune system goes on overdrive and starts mass producing IgE, which again bind themselves with mast cells, prompting the release of histamine.


Clinical experience suggests that this type of allergy is relatively uncommon. However, there are no accurate figures for prevalence. The symptoms could occur within minutes or a few hours after eating or inhaling gluten-containing foods. The more common symptoms include the skin: hives, eczema, angioedema or swelling. It could also affect the gastrointestinal tract, causing abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, and oral allergy syndromes, and the respiratory tract (asthma or allergic rhinitis).


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As always, before you attempt to self medicate or try a new health regimen or program we suggest you retain the services of a qualified health care professional.


Child asthma and allergy

Children are extremely sensitive to allergies and asthma.  They have little lungs that may not be yet strong enough to fight off certain allergies and this can cause a reaction.  Also, little children, under the age of three should only be eating certain foods so that they are not introduced to something that could cause an attack.  An example of this is strawberries.  Myth has that you shouldn't feed a child under three the fruit because they will develop an allergy to the food.


Your muscles will tighten and cause your airways to begin to narrow or close. 

Asthma is where your air passages to your lungs become narrow.  There are many reasons why you might have an asthma attack.  You may have an asthma attack because of an allergy or because of an activity you engage in. This can be extremely scary for a young child.  With a panicky child, the attack will get even worse.  It is best to calm your child down and administer the inhaler or remedy for the child. 

To protect your child from allergy related asthma attacks; you should clean the house thoroughly.  Every inch of your house should be dusted everyday, as well as your floors vacuumed or scrubbed. In the child's room, dust and dust mites need to be destroyed and nonexistent.  By ridding the child's most common play areas of dust and dirt; you will be protecting your child from harmful spores or particles that can cause an allergy attack.  You may also be interested in purchasing an air purifier.  This will take out of the harmful spores that are in the air, as well as, let less dust land on the furniture and such.

You should seek your doctor's opinion about medication for your child.  They are many different types of medication for asthma and allergies that are safe for your child to take.  You should also ask your doctor if you can mix allergy and asthma medication together. You need to watch what medicines you take while under the influence of another.  It could be just as harmful as an attack.  Your doctor should be able to answer any questions that you might have. 


Allergy Symptoms


You known you’re allergic when you react to certain substances you’ve been exposed to before. For instance, you may have eaten shellfish before but the next time you eat foods containing shellfish, you develop rashes.

An allergy occurs when your body overreacts to things that don’t normally cause problems for most people.

These things are called allergens and your body’s overreaction to them are what causes allergy symptoms.


Common Allergy Symptoms


What Causes these Allergy Symptoms?


No one really knows why someone develops allergy. Studies have shown that allergy may be hereditary or genetic. Others say that allergy is just something that develops over time and disappears, also over time. But one thing is certain, there are certain specific factors found in the environment that can trigger the body to develop allergy symptoms.


The most common allergen is pollen from trees, grass, and weeds. Allergy symptoms caused by these allergens often occur in the spring (late April and May) and may also occur late in the summer (late May to mid-July). Ragweed allergens may also cause allergy symptoms in the fall (late August to the first frost).


In direct contrast to pollen, which is airborne, molds are contracted by contact through the skin. Mold is common where water tends to collect, such as shower curtains, window moldings and damp basements. It can also be found in rotting logs, hay, mulches, commercial peat moss, compost piles, and leaf litter. Allergy symptoms caused by molds become worse during humid and rainy weather.


Another common type of allergen is animal dander. These are proteins found in the skin, saliva, and urine of furry pets, such as cats and dogs. You can develop allergy symptoms from handling an animal or from coming into contact with house dust, containing dander.


Various more allergens are contained in dust. One of them is dust mites, which are tiny living creatures found in bedding, mattresses, carpeting, and upholstered furniture. These mites live on dead skin cells and other things found in house dust, and coming into contact with them may result in allergy symptoms.


How to Control Allergy Symptoms?


Unless you live in a vacuum, it is extremely difficult to avoid allergens all together. But with a little management and control, you can reduce the occurrence of allergy symptoms caused by these allergens.


Keeping clean is always the first step in controlling allergy symptoms. Before bedtime, it is advisable to shower or bathe to wash off pollen and other allergens in your hair and skin. You can also reduce the amount of mold in your home by frequently cleaning those places where mold often accumulates.


Avoid going outside the home during dry, windy days. Keep windows and doors shut, and use an air conditioner at home and in your car. This is one way to keep yourself from developing allergy symptoms caused by pollen and other airborne allergens.


Comparing Asthma and Allergy

When you compare the difference between an asthma attack and an allergy attack, there is not much difference.  An allergy attack is when you are provoked into an attack because you eat, touch, or breathe something that is sensitive to you.  An asthma attack is when your muscles tighten and your air way begins to narrow.  They can go hand in hand.  An asthma attack can be caused from an allergy that upset your body.  Another way to think of it is that an asthma attack is somewhat what it feels like when you're taking an allergy attack.

The two are pretty much similar in symptoms.  Your chest will feel congested and your breathing will become shallow.  Allergy attacks are a little different because there are different types of attacks.  You may just have a reaction to something and a rash will appear.  You may not be able to stop sneezing or coughing as a result of an allergy attack.  You could also have a narrowing of your airways.  It depends on what allergen is affecting you and how your body will react.

When it comes to both asthma and allergy attacks, you should consult your doctor immediately, because he may be able to give you or your child comfort immediately.  By seeking medical attention quickly, your child will be able to understand why the attack happened and in ways to avoid the attacks.  Usually, with a change in diet or act ivies you should be able to avoid asthma attacks.  Allergy attacks are harder to avoid.  We breathe in allergy agents everyday of our lives.  There are constantly spores of mold in the air.  It's not as easy to avoid an allergy attack, as it is an asthma attack.

Both can be management with a little help from friends and family members and doctors.  Your friends and family members can help you clean your place up and make it less likely to give you an allergy or asthma attack.  By cleaning properly you should be able to lower your amount of attacks.  Also, when it comes to asthma attacks you can strengthen your lungs by becoming more active, but not to the point of strain.


Allergy Relief Medicine


There are many different types of medicine and treatment used to give you allergy relief. However, there are times when regular allergy relief medicines like antihistamines and decongestants are not enough to control allergic reactions. What you need then is additional treatment.


Like all other foods, these foods contain a number of other proteins, which could all cause adverse reactions, including allergies. In addition, many wheat products contain other ingredients and preservatives. Any of these could cause allergic reactions. So what you believe to be gluten allergy could well turn out to be a completely different reaction to substances other than gluten or wheat.


Allergy Shots: What are they?


Also known as immunotheraphy, allergy shots are a form of allergy relief medicine that works by changing the way your immune system recognizes an allergen. It’s a preventive treatment so the next time you are exposed to allergen substances, such as grass pollens, house dust mites, and wasp and bee venom, you’ll have a better chance at controlling your allergic reaction.

The allergy relief medicine that is immunotherapy involves giving gradually increasing doses of the substance, or allergen, to which the person is allergic. This allows your immune system to gradually get used to the substance. Although this allergic relief medicine can be very effective, it is far from a quick fix. It takes time, usually one to two years, to get your immune system to act normally every time an allergen is introduced into the body.


Before you start on allergy shots, you should first consult your doctor. That’s because not everyone is safe taking allergy shots. If you have severe asthma or heart problems or taking a beta blocker, allergy shots are not recommended.


When you consult a doctor about allergy shots, he will first do an allergy test on you to determine exactly what allergens are causing your allergies. After the specific allergens have been identified, you will start getting shots one to two times a week.


Oral Medication


If you find that you want faster-acting allergy relief medicines, then the best choice you have are oral antihistamines and decongestants. Histamine is the substance released by the body when the immune system produces too much antibodies as a reaction to allergen exposure. It is also the same substance that causes inflammation of the tissues. The allergy relief medicine antihistamines provide relief of symptoms, such as rash, hives, watery eyes, runny nose, itching eyes, and sneezing. Decongestants, on the other hand, relieve congestion, promote sinus draining and improve breathing.


Keep in mind that antihistamines and decongestants can have side effects. Some of the most noted ones are drowsiness, dizziness, headache, loss of appetite, stomach upset, blurred vision, restlessness, irritability and dry mouth and nose. However, these effects should subside as your body adjusts to the allergy relief medicine.


Alternative Allergy Relief Medicines


Besides allergy shots or immunotheraphy, there are also other allergy relief medicines and treatment methods that you can use. Among them are the following:


Chiropractic Care – not a treatment for allergies, however, it does permit the nervous system to function with less stress and the immune system to function more effectively


Here are some related articles on allergies


Allergic Response - A healthy home environment means that contaminants that are harmful to your health are removed or neutralized as much as possible. For allergy sufferers, it is vital to try to limit the free distribution of air-borne allergens that can trigger allergic symptoms.


Allergic Rhinitis - Food Labels Food labels usually list all the ingredients in any given food - that's why it's important to read the labels. If you see one of your food allergens listed, don't eat the food. The problem, though, is that a food protein can have more than one name.


Allergies Antihistamines - Allergies in pets(mostly dogs and cats) are diagnosed far more frequently these days than in the past. This is probably due to a combination of factors - more pets being taken to vets, better diagnostic tools, an increased allergen load in the environment, and probably indiscriminate breeding.


Allergy Control Products - When allergies strike, most allergy sufferers head to the drugstore where they purchase an antihistamine. They take it, and soon their symptoms begin to subside. They’re all set until the next outburst.

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