SEARCH

Entries in Allergic Reaction (5)

Thursday
Nov082012

Spices Hard to Avoid for Those with Allergies

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ANAHEIM, Calif.) -- You may only think of spices as being ingredients in foods.  But they are commonly found in other products -- such as cosmetics, fragrances and toothpastes -- according to allergists at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI).  

And for the 2 to 3 percent of people worldwide who are allergic to spices, that could make them almost impossible to avoid.

Spice allergy is responsible for about 2 percent of food allergies and is often under-diagnosed due to a lack of reliable allergy testing for particular spices or unawareness of exposure.

“While spice allergy seems to be rare, with the constantly increasing use of spices in the American diet and a variety of cosmetics, we anticipate more and more Americans will develop this allergy,” allergist Sami Bahna, M.D., the former president of the ACAAI, said Thursday at the college's Annual Scientific Meeting.  “Patients with spice allergy often have to go through extreme measures to avoid the allergen.  This can lead to strict dietary avoidance, low quality of life and sometimes malnutrition.”

The most common spice allergy triggers include cinnamon and garlic, according to the ACAAI, but can range from black pepper to vanilla.

“Because of this allergy’s complexity, allergists often recommend a treatment plan that includes strict avoidance which can be a major task,” Dr. Bahna said.

Allergic reactions can range from sneezing to a rash, upset stomach, and sometimes even a life-threatening condition called anaphylaxis, where the throat closes, making it difficult to breathe.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not regulate spices, meaning that they are often not on labels -- making them impossible to detect and avoid.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr202012

Allergic to Money? New UK Coins May Irritate Some

Hemera/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Who doesn’t love money? A little jingle in your pocket usually brings a smile to the face, but two new coins in the United Kingdom might leave some people literally itching to get away from them.

The UK has decided to coat their 5p and 10p coins with nickel, a material that causes a skin reaction similar to that seen with poison ivy in some people.

Specifically, people who have a skin allergy to nickel may develop an allergic contact dermatitis when they come in contact with the metal. This means that handing the new coins could lead to a skin rash consisting of redness, swelling and itching for those unfortunate enough to have this allergy.

According to two dermatology experts in the U.K. who wrote a report appearing in BMJ online on Thursday, these people may even be at increased risk for hand eczema, a condition in which the palms become inflamed and covered in itchy, potentially painful blisters.

The coins’ composition is being changed as a cost-cutting measure, but the authors say the cost to treat those affected by allergic reactions might be steep. They contacted Britain’s HM Treasury asking for data on the amount of nickel that is released from the new coins onto the hands.

According to Dr. Danielle Greenblatt, co-author of the letter and specialist registrar in dermatology at the Guy’s and St. Thomas’s MHS Trust in London, the treasury admitted it did not have answers to her questions.

“There hasn’t been any research that I’m aware of on these new coins to show what effect they may have,” says Greenblatt.

Nickel is one of the most common skin irritants in the world. Five percent of men and 27 percent of women had a reaction to nickel in a skin patch allergy test performed in a 2007 Norwegian study of more than 1,200 people.

Nevertheless, nickel is currently used in coins around the world.  Typically it’s part of a mixture of metals, called an alloy, with nickel representing 5 to 25 percent. According to the U.S. Mint, the American nickel, dime and quarter are all composed of a copper-nickel alloy.

These new British coins are different since they would be coated in pure nickel rather than having the metal simply mixed in. This actually reduces the total amount of nickel in the coin, down to 2 or 3 percent, but it means that the entire surface of the coin -- the part that comes into contact with the skin -- would be made of nickel.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan052012

Allergic Girl's Death Raises Questions About School's Responsibility

Getty Images/Photo Researchers RM(RICHMOND, Va.) -- The death of a Virginia first grader has raised questions about how schools should handle severe allergies.

Ammaria Johnson, 7, died Monday after suffering an allergic reaction during recess at her Chesterfield County elementary school, Hopkins Elementary.

"She came to the school clinic after feeling she had hives and shortness of breath," Lt. Jason Elmore, a spokesman for the Chesterfield County Fire Department, told ABC News. It's unclear how long Johnson was in the clinic before school officials called 911 at 2:26 p.m.

"When emergency crews arrived, she was already in cardiac arrest in the clinic," said Elmore.

Johnson was rushed to a local hospital where she was pronounced dead.

What caused the reaction is still under investigation, but Johnson's mother, Laura Pendleton, told local reporters the girl had a peanut allergy.

"We can only assume that at this time," said Elmore. "We have EMS protocols in place for allergic reactions and we performed those in hopes of saving her life, but unfortunately this time we could not."

Calls to Pendleton were not immediately returned. She arrived at the hospital after Johnson had died, Elmore said.

The death is still under investigation by the Chesterfield County Police Department, according to a spokeswoman, but the state medical examiner will not be involved.

Experts say Johnson could have been saved by an EpiPen -- a device that injects epinephrine, currently available only by prescription.

"The epinephrine reverses severe symptoms, giving time to get the person to an emergency room for monitoring and more care," said Dr. Scott Sicherer of the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.

But Hopkins Elementary had no such device on hand for Johnson.

Chesterfield County school policy states that parents are responsible for providing the school "with all daily and emergency medications prescribed by the student's health-care provider," and keeping medications up to date.

"For any medication, the school would have to be in possession of that medication to provide it," said Shawn Smith, a spokesman for Chesterfield County Public Schools. Even if the school had an EpiPen prescribed for another student, they would not be able to use it.

"The medication we receive, or should receive, has to be specific to that child, whether it's over-the-counter or prescription," Smith said.

Smith declined to comment on Johnson's case specifically, but said managing severe allergies starts at home.

"At the beginning of the school year, we sent information to parents outlining the different responsibilities for the family and the child, the principal, the teacher, the doctor and the nurse," he said. "First and foremost, is does begin at home. Working with their doctor, the family would outline a health care plan that deals with those severe allergies."

Pendleton told local reporters her daughter did have a plan, but said the school refused to take Johnson's EpiPen and failed to give her Benadryl -- an over-the-counter antihistamine also listed in her plan -- at the first sign of a reaction.

Because severe allergies can develop without warning, some experts say schools should stock EpiPens like bandages and other first-aid supplies.

A school EpiPen stash could soon be a reality with a proposed bill that would encourage states to adopt laws requiring schools to have EpiPens on hand. The School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act, proposed in December 2011, would mean EpiPens could be used for any student or staff member in an anaphylactic emergency.

The bill would include liability protection for school officials who give epinephrine in good faith, according to Maria Acebal, chief executive officer of the Fairfax, Va.-based Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network, which championed the bill.

"No one in this country has ever been sued for giving epinephrine, to my knowledge," said Acebal. "All the lawsuits come about because school officials don't give it when it's needed."

In a healthy child, epinephrine can cause a rapid heart rate, nausea and light-headedness -- mild symptoms that wear off in 15 minutes. It would only be dangerous in children born with a congenital heart condition, which school officials would be aware of.

Acebal, whose eldest daughter has a food allergy, said her other children learned how to inject epinephrine by age 6.

"If I can teach a 6-year-old to do it, we can teach school staff," she said.

Acebal said having epinephrine on hand in school would give students, staff and parents added peace of mind.

"My heart breaks for Ammaria's family because any parent who has a child with a food allergy knows what it's like to fear that phone call from the school," she said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct112011

Study Finds Way to Stave off Peanut Allergies by Tricking Body

Medioimages/Photodisc/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- If you're one of the many Americans who suffer from peanut allergies, relief may be on the way.

Researchers at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine have discovered a way to trick the immune system into thinking peanut proteins don't pose a threat to the body.

By attaching the proteins onto white blood cells and putting them back into the body, they found they could eliminate the allergic response to the nut.  The researchers proved this in mice, who after two treatments were fed a peanut extract and had no life-threatening allergic reaction.

“Their immune system saw the peanut protein as perfectly normal because it was already presented on the white blood cells,” said Paul Bryce, an assistant professor of medicine in the division of allergy-immunology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.  “Without the treatment, these animals would have gone into anaphylactic shock.”

Bryce, one of the co-authors of the study published in the Journal of Immunology, thinks this approach may be able to target multiple food allergies at once, since its possible more than one protein could be attached to the cells.

“This is an exciting new way in which we can regulate specific allergic diseases and may eventually be used in a clinical setting for patients,” said Stephen Miller, professor of microbiology-immunology at Feinberg and co-author of the study.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun302011

Health Officials Investigating Temporary Tattoo Additive

Digital Vision/Photodisc(MINNEAPOLIS) -- They’re a hit with children and common at birthday parties, carnivals, and summer fairs. But now the Minnesota Department of Health says that an additive found in some temporary tattoos could put children at risk.

Of particular concern is the additive para-phenylenediamine (PPD), an agent used in ink known as “black henna.” Though it’s been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in hair dye, PPD has not been approved for direct application to the skin and has been known to trigger allergic reactions including intense itching, blistering and even permanent scarring in some cases.

Minnesota health officials say they’re investigating the potentially harmful effects of temporary tattoos after about half of a group of 35 Twin Cities-area eighth graders reported skin reactions.

“In most cases, the lesions appeared within 20 days of getting the tattoo, and half occurred within 7 days,” the Minnesota Health Department said Thursday in announcing the warning.

“The children were treated with creams, including steroid containing creams, and three children were given oral antibiotics. Although the material used for the tattoos was described as black in color, MDH has not determined as yet whether it contained PPD or other additives,” officials said, adding that the case “underscores the need for caution before getting a henna tattoo.”

Pure henna has not been approved by the FDA, but is commonly used to create temporary tattoos.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

They’re a hit with children and common at birthday parties, carnivals and summer fairs. But now the Minnesota Department of Health says that an additive found in some temporary tattoos could put children at risk.

 

Of particular concern is the additive para-phenylenediamine (PPD), an agent used in ink known as “black henna.” Though it’s been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in hair dye, PPD has not been approved for direct application to the skin and has been known to trigger allergic reactions including intense itching, blistering and even permanent scarring in some cases.

 

Minnesota health officials say they’re investigating the potentially harmful effects of temporary tattoos after about half of a group of 35 Twin Cities-area eighth graders reported skin reactions.

 

“In most cases, the lesions appeared within 20 days of getting the tattoo, and half occurred within 7 days,” the Minnesota Health Department said Thursday in announcing the warning.

“The children were treated with creams, including steroid containing creams, and three children were given oral antibiotics. Although the material used for the tattoos was described as black in color, MDH has not determined as yet whether it contained PPD or other additives,” officials said, adding that the case “underscores the need for caution before getting a henna tattoo.”

Pure henna has not been approved by the FDA, but is commonly used to create temporary tattoos.







ABC News Radio