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Allergies Articles, Tips and Information

Allergies - Food Allergies

In this article we're going to focus on one of the most annoying types of allergies, especially to people who love to eat.


You go out to the local pizza parlor, order two slices with extra cheese, sit down at the booth with your pizza in one hand and coke in the other and chow down. A few hours later after you've arrived back home just in time to watch your favorite TV show, suddenly your stomach feels like it's about to erupt like a volcano. You run like a madman to the bathroom just in time to experience what seems to be the complete emptying of your insides.

Before we go any further let's define exactly what a food allergy is.

Welcome to the world of food allergies and intolerances. In the case of the runs after eating a couple of slices of pizza most likely you're lactose intolerant which is just one type of food allergy. Technically, you can be allergic to just about any kind of food but there are some that seem to be more common that others.


The second category is food intolerance. This is actually caused by the food itself and is not a function of the immune system itself overreacting to the food or food additive. The symptoms of an intolerance may be very similar to those of an actual immune symptom reaction but the causes are quite different.

Of the two, actual immune system reactions are the more common, though it does appear that a trend to intolerances, such as lactose intolerance, is on the rise.


What actually happens with food allergies is that people with allergies produce IgE antibodies to specific epitopes in the food allergen. These antibodies bind to IgE receptors on the mast cells of tissue that are on the skin, digestive tract and respiratory system. The exposure of these antigens causes the release of histamines. This ultimately results in mucus secretion and muscle contraction which then leads to a wide range of symptoms which can range from unpleasant to serious or even severe. How severe?


Allergic reactions to food can be fatal almost immediately following the ingestion of food. Probably one of the most prevalent and dangerous of these food allergies are people who are allergic to peanuts. Just recently, as of this writing, a girl died simply from kissing someone who had recently eaten peanuts. That is how dangerous these allergies can be.


Less severe reactions to food allergies are oropharyngeal pruritus, angioedema, stridor, cough, dyspnea, wheezing, and dysphonia.


Aside from peanuts, the most common foods that people are allergic to are tree nuts, and shellfish.

Unfortunately the best way to avoid food allergies is to have a food allergy test done and then to avoid the foods that show positive on the test.


Michael Russell
Your Independent guide to Allergies


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Allergies - Quality Of Life


In this article we're going to discuss how allergies affect our quality of life and how different allergies affect different parts of our life.

Having allergies isn't simply a matter of sneezing once in a while during the day. If it was then nobody would make too big a deal about them. But the truth is, allergies can greatly affect our quality of life depending on what type of allergy we have and how severe the symptoms.


This is the poor guy who's maybe a landscaper or gardener.


Let's start with the most common allergy, hay fever. Millions of people suffer from hay fever but few really understand how terrible this allergy can be. Going outside and breathing in pollen that starts us sneezing and wheezing is only part of the problem. In itself, that's bad enough. But what about the person who doesn't have a nice comfortable job inside an air conditioned office? These people work outdoors for a living. What are they supposed to do? If their symptoms are severe enough where medication brings little or no relief they have two options. Continue to suffer and possibly miss many days of work or find a new line of work. If this sounds drastic, it isn't. Sadly, many people lose their jobs because of medical problems, allergies being among the more common.


For the person who works indoors, they are not always so lucky either. Many people have allergies to indoor mold which is very common in old buildings, especially old schools. There was a recent documented case in Irvington, NJ where the mold situation in the high school was so bad that one teacher became ill enough that she had to leave her job until the situation was rectified.


This is even worse for people with allergies to mold who live in old homes. Many times when the problem gets out of control the person has to sell his home or move out of his apartment. Mold is not an easy thing to get rid of if it has spread far enough and if it does get out of control many times people are forced from their homes. This isn't just a minor quality of life change.


It isn't just people with indoor and outdoor allergies who have their quality of life affected. People with food allergies or sensitivities have their lives sometimes drastically altered. Many people suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome because of allergies to certain foods and because of this either miss time from work or spend a good part of the day at work in the bathroom. In either case these people are forced to give up their jobs because they can't do them dependably.


But it isn't just work that gets the worst of it with allergies. Many fathers with young sons are unable to go outside and play ball with their kid because of hay fever. Others can't go on that vacation with the rest of the family because they have to be close to a bathroom at all times because of food allergies.


The sad fact is, people with allergies suffer greatly. And it's not just a little sneezing during the day.


Michael Russell
Your Independent guide to Allergies


Allergies - Diagnosis


In this article we're going to discuss how allergies are commonly diagnosed using a variety of methods.

The first thing that is important as far as getting your allergies diagnosed is to know, or at least suspect if you might have allergies. This isn't always easy because in many cases, depending on the type of allergies you have, they may very well have the same symptoms as the common cold.

Normally, the difference between the two is that with a cold, symptoms include fever, coughing, post nasal drip with a bad smell and or taste, yellow or green mucus from the nose or throat, sore throat, headache, and finally most colds clear up in 7 to 10 days.

With allergies, symptoms include sneezing, itchy eyes, ears, nose and throat, nasal congestion, runny nose, and clear mucus from the nose and throat. Then there are other conditions that can be present such as asthma, eczema and food allergies. For some people, the symptoms are seasonal, meaning that they may be perfectly okay in the winter and fall but feel like garbage come spring and summer depending on what they're allergic to. Then there are some people who are allergic all year round because their allergies are mostly of the indoor variety.


Based on the above symptoms for both colds and allergies you can pretty much get an idea of what you are suffering from, especially if your symptoms seem to be persisting for more than a couple of weeks or have been going off and on for several weeks.

The next question is simply, once we suspect that we do suffer from allergies, how do we determine what kinds of allergies we are suffering from?


The easiest way to get your allergies diagnosed is to go to an allergist and have him give you an allergy test. Actually, to be more accurate, they are a series of tests.


Allergy tests can be given in a variety of ways but the most common and most effective is the progressive series.

In these tests what the doctor does is set up a number of vials. Each vial contains a specific allergen. There are outdoor allergy vials and indoor allergy vials. The outdoor vials are trees, grass, weeds, plants, pollen, and outdoor mold. The indoor vials are indoor mold, dust, pet hair, feathers, and cockroaches.


The procedure is simple. The doctor, or assistant takes each vial and injects a small amount of serum from each vial into the patient, starting with the smallest amount possible. If there is no reaction from any of the vials then the doctor increases the dosage by a small percentage. Once a reaction occurs, that vial is marked at the dosage that caused the reaction. This process is continued until the max dosage is given for each vial or a reaction occurs for each vial, whichever comes first.


After it is determined what allergens, if any, the patient is allergic to, the doctor then makes a serum based on the test results should the patient decide to proceed with allergy shots to treat the allergies. Otherwise, the doctor will prescribe a medication to take based on the allergies the patient has.


Michael Russell
Your Independent guide to Allergies


Allergies - Reducing Bedroom Dust Mites

In this article we're going to discuss simple steps for reducing the dust mite allergens in your bedroom.


Dust mites. You can't see them but they're there. And they do most of their attacking at night while you're asleep. Why? Because dust mites generally live in your bed; on the mattress, the pillows, your blanket, just about anywhere you can think of. Enough of these little creatures can make your life a living nightmare.


But there are simple steps you can take to help reduce the number of dust mites you have to share your bed with and hopefully make your sleeping experience a little more enjoyable.


First, a little bit about what dust mites are. They are actually microscopic spider-like creatures that feed on the flakes of your skin. They reside anywhere that is considered to be a "dust trap" which include the things already mentioned plus your draperies, carpets and upholstery. And since dust is just about anywhere, dust mites are just about anywhere as well. Dust mite exposure is a significant cause of indoor allergies, which are much different from outdoor allergies. These allergies can lead to asthma and hay fever. Studies show that over 45% of homes in the United States have concentrations of dust mites that are considered to be dangerous enough to cause asthmatic conditions.


So just how do we reduce the number of dust mites in our homes?

For starters we can cover our beds with dust proof covers. These are covers that are specially made to go over our mattresses and pillows. These covers are not cheap but the good that they do far outweighs the cost. These covers can be purchased in a department store that sells bedding supplies.


Another thing that can be done is to vacuum regularly, most preferably with a vacuum that has a hepa filter so that the allergens don't end up just going back into the air when the vacuum is emptied. A hepa filter and bagless vacuum is your best bet for keeping the allergens out of your home after you have picked them up off the floor.


Another thing that is very effective for getting rid of the dust mites in your home is to steam clean as many items as possible. Some articles can't be steam cleaned so you have to use caution when doing this so as not to ruin any of your items. The reason steam cleaning works is because dust mites need a dry environment to live in. The moisture from the steaming is what helps kill them.

It should be noted that while these procedures do reduce the level of dust mite concentrations below severe symptom levels, they do not reduce them to the point where people do not still have sensitivity to the allergens, such as sneezing and coughing. Unfortunately it is impossible to completely reduce the level of dust mite allergens to absolute zero unless you are living inside a bubble and the technology for such an environment is not quite yet with us.


Michael Russell
Your Independent guide to Allergies


Types of Allergies


People who suffer from allergies of a specific type are usually prone to allergies from various other substances. These substances, called allergens, range from common indoor household substances like dust particles, mold and mildew, pet dander, chemical emissions from cleaning agents, to biological organisms found in carpeting and furnishings. Outdoor allergens can be pollen, dust and smog from pollution and noxious vapors, insect stings. Common foods which cause allergies are milk, fish, eggs and nuts. Although most allergic reactions are not life threatening, some can cause the patient’s blood pressure to plummet or a severe inability to breathe and thus can be fatal. Allergies cannot be cured but they can be treated. There are various types of allergies, some of which have been explained below.


Respiratory Allergies: Common symptoms of hay fever include itchy eyes, nose and throat, along with nasal congestions, coughing bouts and sneezing fits. Hay fever can be caused by a number of allergens including a variety of pollens, all spread by the wind, molds, dust, animal dander. Allergies caused by mold can be from spores in the air, especially found in warm climate or in damp environments like bathrooms and basements. These offending agents like pollen, spores, dust mites, irritating fibers from upholstery and carpets are carried by the air which we inhale.


Skin allergies: These can arise from a reaction to foods, pollen, drugs, insect stings, cold, heat, light and even emotional stress. Symptoms include eruption of hives or urticaria, where the skin erupts into red, itchy, swollen welts that can last from a few minutes to a few days. One may also develop Angioedema, in which there is a deeper swelling around the eyes and lips and sometimes in the hands and feet as well.


Food allergies: Commonly found in infants under two, it is sometimes hard to tell the exact substance that sets off the allergic reaction, as the reaction may be delayed, caused by food additives or maybe due to eating habits. Common offenders are cow’s milk, egg whites, peanuts, wheat, soybeans, berries, shellfish, corn and beans. Symptoms manifest themselves as stomach cramps, diarrhea, and nausea. There may be vomiting, swelling of the face and tongue, and respiratory congestion, as well as dizziness, sweating, and faintness.


Asthma: An allergy is one of the most common causes for asthma. Asthma can be caused by respiratory viruses, pollen allergies, mold, animal dander and dust. An allergy can cause the irritation, swelling and inflammation of the air passages, which causes asthma.


Drug allergies: If you’re allergic to some drug, it’s likely to be from antibiotics of the penicillin family. Antibiotics are the cause of most drug allergies, especially those containing sulfa drugs.


Insect sting allergies: Poison found in the stings of bees, wasps, hornets, yellow jackets, and fire ants is a common allergen.


Jack Smith writes about various allergy topics. This article is free to re-print as long as nothing is changed, all links remained intact, the bio remains in full and the rel="nofollow" tag is not added to any of the links. Thank-you - Please visit

Discover Your Food Allergies and Accelerate Weight Loss

Some nutritionists estimate that up to 75% of all people have undiagnosed food allergies. They may not be allergies in the way that we commonly think of them – that is, we may not sneeze or get a rash, or go into anaphylactic shock. But they are allergies all the same, if these foods provoke a negative immune response in the body. A good example is lactose intolerance – sometimes called a ‘milk allergy’. People with lactose intolerance cannot digest one of the sugars that milk contains, and milk is harmful to their bodies. They might get a stomach ache, or they might develop a problem with phlegm in the lungs, windpipe or throat. Many people have a similar allergy to wheat or other grains, or to certain vegetables.


Food allergies can be broken down into 2 categories. The first one is hypersensitivity. This is an adverse reaction of the immune system itself and is unrelated to any actual physical effect of the food or food additive. These reactions are caused by immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies.


But what does this have to do with weight loss? Studies show that food allergies are a leading cause of weight gain. When you eat foods that you are allergic to, they aren’t metabolized properly, and your body will hold onto the calories in these foods for longer, according to one theory. Also, some nutritionists feel that there is a correlation between your food allergies and the foods that you crave or binge on. Often, they are the same foods. In fact, if you eat the foods that you are allergic to, you can develop an addiction to them. Apparently, this is often the case with wheat and other carbohydrates. Apparently, there are some people who are addicted to carbohydrates and sugar – if they eat just a little bit of these foods, they will lose control, and start to eat more and more. To make matters worse, these foods are not metabolized properly by those people, so the natural result is weight gain.


In most cases like this, the underlying cause may be an allergy to wheat and other grains. If you decide to eliminate these foods entirely, it will initially be difficult – just as it’s difficult for a smoker to stop smoking, or for an alcoholic to stop drinking. Once you do it, though, you will be able to reap the benefits. You will lose your urge to binge on these and other foods, and the weight will come off much faster.


If you are trying to lose weight, therefore, it is well worth your while to find out what your food allergies are, if indeed you have any. A naturopath will be able to help you discover this information, often using a process called ‘vega testing’. This may be a little costly, but as more people are doing it, the cost is coming down. At the end of the the visit, the naturopath will give you a printout of the foods you should avoid. You may be dismayed to find that some of your ‘favorites’ are on the list – but if you are committed to your health and weight loss, give it a try. You may be surprised by how little you actually miss the foods you are allergic to once they are gone from your diet altogether.


Some people are skeptical about this process and about the whole notion that so many people are allergic to common foods. Why would so many people have this disorder? It may seem strange – even counter-intuitive. Think about the great variety of foods we eat today, though. In the past, people generally stayed in the same part of the world in which they were born, and they ate the food that was indigenous to that region. Nowadays, that’s all but impossible. For one thing, people move around a lot more. Also, food doesn’t come from the region you live in - it comes from everywhere. Every food is available to everyone all the time, and that’s very different from what it was like in the past. Therefore, there’s a much greater potential for food allergies, because there are probably foods that you eat that your ancestors never would have seen. As a result, you may not have the necessary enzymes to digest them.


You could, of course, try to eat as your ancestors did. For many of us, though our ancestors came from a variety of places, and there’s no telling which set of genetics were passed on to us. Allergy testing, on the other hand, is individual, and may well give you the answers you need.


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