Allergy History

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allergy-historyHistorians believe that the Egyptians, Chinese, Jews, Greeks and Romans of antiquity were aware of allergies and as Lucretius observed over 2,100 years ago, “One man’s meat is another man’s poison.” In fact, it is believed that the earliest known report of a allergic reaction occurred around 3500 B.C. when King Menses of Egypt died from an an anaphylactic reaction after being stung by a wasp.

Some biblical scholars believe the Old Testament’s dietary restrictions reflected, in many cases, an awareness that certain foods caused severe symptoms in some people. Many of these same scholars have considered the 13th chapter of Leviticus to a passage of scripture which is clearly referring to allergies of the skin. Others have noted that the wheat they consumed during biblical days was “un-processed” and prepared much differently than modern days which could explain partly why allergies have been called the epidemic of the 20th century and continues today into the 21st century.

It is believed that in the early 1800s, a few scientists were already studying the effects of allergies on humans with one of the first official scientist John Bostock coming forth in 1819 with his studies termed “hayfever”.  Even though allergies aren’t directly related to hay or fever, the term is commonly used today to describe respiratory allergies. The American physician Morrill Wyman published a report in 1872 identifying ragweed as a cause of what was then known as the “autumn catarrh.” The well-known scientist Charles Blackley published his findings regarding that hayfever was actually created by a grass pollen reaction in 1873.

New findings and breakthroughs in allergy related studies continued throughout the 1900s by other known scientists such as Paul Portier and Charles Richet that first used the word “anaphylaxis” to describe a severe allergic response to a known allergen.

Fast forwarding to Jauary 1, 1996, the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA), required food manufacturers to start disclosing the top eight food allergen catagories;

  1. milk
  2. eggs
  3. fish
  4. shellfish
  5. peanuts
  6. tree nuts
  7. wheat
  8. soy

Today, approximately 1/3 of the population suffers from some type of allergies.  Could it be that allergies are more of a modern-day problem than a distant one because of the way we process, cook and prepare our food? Only time will tell!

Source: The AllergyReliefExpert staff

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Allergic Reactions

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allergic-reactionMechanisms of Allergic Reactions

The most common hypersensitivity reaction is the allergic reaction. In susceptible people, IgE antibodies are induced when an individual is exposed to such antigens as airborne pollen of grasses, trees or weeds; animal dander, urine or saliva; mold spores; various insect-derived dusts and airborne organic dust; the venom of a certain stinging insect; or specific foods or drugs.

Allergens are antigens that produce allergic reactions. As encountered in nature, most allergic substances contain many different antigens or molecules capable of inducing an immune response. Most of the time, however, only a few of the antigens in these substances act as allergens. In recent years, allergens from a few pollen and animal sources have been identified, characterized and in many cases, isolated in pure form. In most cases the allergens clearly identified have proven to be proteins in a specific weight range of 10,000 to 40,000 daltons or in other words, they are microscopic in size.

The Single Allergy Gene Theory

We do not yet know what it is that leads to the spontaneous production of large amounts of IgE antibodies in some people. Recent evidence suggest that a person’s total IgE level is genetically determined by a single gene. In allergic individuals, the IgE levels are often two to four times above normal and is presumed to be from a result of the person’s  previous responses to environmental allergens. Exposure to small doses of antigens tend to favor IgE antibody production that is regulated by both helper and suppressor T cells.

Scientist now know that the level of IgE antibodies for ragweed-pollen antigens rises dramatically during and immediate after the annual ragweed season. The level then falls slowly until the next pollen season starts, when it rises quickly again.  Apparantly, T cells cause an influx of mast cells and basophils into an area such as the nose lining when exposed to ragweed pollen. As a result, symptoms of ragweed allergies can occur weeks after the official ragweed season has ended.

Allergy researchers have concluded that to understand and control allergic diseases, we must understand how the immune system functions. Recent knowledge has been harnessed allowing scientist to better control allergic reactions by controlling how the immune system reacts to a given allergen.

Source: The Allergy Encyclopedia

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Avoiding Asthma Attacks

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avoiding-asthma-attacksThe task of continuously avoiding stimulants such as airborne allergens and other specific irritants which pervade the environment is often difficult if not impossible. While certain food allergens can cause asthma attacks, we will focus on the more difficult asthma irritants to prevent and control throughout your daily routine. The irritants I am referring to and we will be discussing in this article are all the non-food asthma causing allergens.

There are other less-known contributing factors asthmatics should be aware of such as drastic changes in barometric pressure, temperature/ humidity or airborne pollutants. These factors may be avoided by:

  • Not sitting near or in front of air conditioner vents or fans
  • Cover the mouth and nose with a scarf or special mask before going out in very cold air
  • Not entering certain areas of a retail store which have concentrated allergens such as the pesticide aisle in an home improvement store
  • Taking control measure to control airborne dust and dust-mites in your home by using true-HEPA vacuums and air purifiers

People who work or live in areas are forced to avoid areas and indoor environments where pollutants are more concentrated. A person who knows he or she is allergic should try to remove irritating factors from the indoor environment they spend the most time in such as their home or work area. An easy example would be; people suffering from asthma unquestionably not smoke or be around people who smoke indoors; as ongoing exposure to smoke can lead to the development of chronic bronchitis or emphysema in asthma sufferers.

However, airborne particles are the primary asthma causing irritant which can cause an acute attack when exposed to. Unfortunately, these airborne particles are microscopic and cannot be seen by the human eye, yet when they are breathed into the lungs an asthma sufferer does not exhale them. They are referred to as sub-micron (microscopic) “respirable particles.” Most all airborne pollutants which cause asthma attacks in the indoor environment fall into the category of “respirable” which can include but are not limited to:

  • Dust mites
  • Dust mite feces
  • Mold spores
  • Broken-down pesticide dust
  • Broken-down dead insects
  • Bacteria from vacuum cleaner bags
  • Broken down tree and grass pollen
  • and more

People with chronic asthma or other respiratory problems probably have some level of a hypersensitivity (allergic response) to one or more of these respirable allergens found in household dust particles. In fact, it is a protein cell found within these irritants that causes the asthma attack itself. In effect, the asthma sufferer is actually allergic to that particular protein.  In some cases, the concentrations of asthma causing dust particles are even worse in some work environments.

The bottom line to controlling and avoiding asthma attacks directly caused by these airborne dust particles is by limiting the amount of these sub-micron dust particles floating in the air of your home or work. Without doubt the most valuable tool to removing and controlling these asthma causing dust particles is the regular use of a HEPA (High Efficient Particulate Air) vacuum cleaner. I have had clients who virtually eliminated the asthma attack frequencies in their own home just by using my suggested protocol for vacuuming a home with a True-HEPA vacuum.

With the correct knowledge and equipment, it is possible to drastically reduce asthma attacks in your home and work environment. I encourage everyone asthma sufferer reading this to continue to learn more about the methods available for fighting asthma attacks.

About the author: Stan K. Hall a.k.a. The Sick House Doctor is a recognized specialist in Indoor Air Pollution as well as Health & Safety in the home. He has performed over 400 indoor environmental evaluations over the past 26 years and has helped hundreds of homeowners make their homes a haven. He is widely known as the originator of T.E.A.M., the scientifically proven approach to controlling and resolving indoor air pollution.

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Allergy Medications

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allergy-medicationsAntihistamine and nose sprays are a multimillion dollar industry in the U.S. alone. Many of these products are purchased every year by allergy sufferers without fully understanding whether or not they will even work for their specific symptoms. It is important to understand how these products will assist in the treatment of allergies.

Antihistamine Decongestant Compounds

The many over-the-counter drugs for treatment of minor allergic symptoms are similar to cold compounds but they normally contain less of aspirin acetaminophen. Usually these drug compounds contain an antihistamine and a decongestant agent, which can be identified on the label. If you tolerate one of these drugs well and get good relief, it may be continued for several weeks (for example, through a hay fever season) without seeing a physician. The same sort of drug taken as nose drops or a nasal spray should be used more sparingly and only for short periods, as detailed below.

Reading the labels: The decongestant is often phenylephrine, ephedrine or phenylpropanolamine. If the compound name is not familiar, the suffix “-ephrine” or “-edrine” will usually identify this component of the compound. The antihistamine is often chlorpheniramine or pyrilamine. If not, the antihistamine is sometimes (but not always) identified on the label by the suffix “-amine.”

Dosage: Per product directions. Reduce dose if side effects are noted or try another compound.

Side effects: These are usually minor and disappear after the drug is stopped or decreased in dose. Agitation and insomnia usually indicate too much of the decongestant component. Drowsiness usually indicates too much antihistamine. If you can avoid the substance to which you are allergic, it is far superior to taking drugs which, to a certain degree may impair your functioning.

Nose Drops and Sprays

A runny nose is often the worst symptom of a cold or allergy. Because this complaint is so common, remedies are big business and there are many advertised claims to decrease nasal secretions.  The active ingredient in these compounds is the decongestant drug ephedrine or phenylpropanolamine. When used, you can immediately feel the membranes shrinking down or “drawing,” and you will note a decrease in the amount of secretion.

The major drawback is that the relief is temporary. Usually the symptoms return in a couple of hours and you will need to repeat the dose. This is fine for a while, but these drugs work by causing the muscles in the walls of the blood vessels to constrict, decreasing blood flow. After many applications, these small muscles become fatigued and fail to respond. Finally, they are so fatigued that they relax entirely and the situation becomes worse than it was in the beginning. This reaction of over-use can cause a rebound effect thus prompting people to take more nasal medication leading to an increasing worse situation. Therefore, it is recommended to use nose sprays or drops for only a few days at a time.

Dosage: These drugs are almost always used in the wrong way. For example, if you don’t bathe the swollen membranes of the inner nose, you won’t get the desired effect. It is better to apply small amounts to one nostril while lying down on that side for a few minutes, then repeat for the other side if necessary. Treat up to four times a day if needed, but do not continue for more than three days without interrupting the therapy.

Side effects: The rebound effect from prolonged use is the most common problem. If you apply these agents incorrectly and swallow a large amount of the drug, you may experience the a rapid heart rate and an uneasy, agitated feeling. The drying effect of the drug can result in nosebleeds. Try to avoid  the substances you are allergic to rather than treating the consequences of exposure.

Source: The staff

MADtv Allergy Medication