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What is Pollen?

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Image is from Everyday Health

If you’ve ever seen acorns scattered about a residential lawn – or countryside, for that matter – as the fall seasons approaches, then you intuitively know what pollen is. Much like trees cast off these acorns so that they can perhaps grow into trees later on down the line, many plants, weeds and grasses cast off pollen in order to reproduce. The grains are usually very small – microscopic, in fact – and so are carried great distances on a springtime breeze.

How Does Pollen Affect People?

The primary mechanism by which pollen in its natural state affects people is the size of the individual grains. Some trees cast off large grains of pollen that are sticky (usually, these are fruit-bearing trees), and these don’t generally cause allergic reactions. The large size restricts the ability of the wind to carry them far, and the stickiness tends to keep them rooted to the ground or other surface objects.

The microscopic grains of pollen are the troublemakers for many humans; the breeze can carry them quite some distance from the progenitor, and they can get inside your body through your mouth and nose. Once inside, your immune system treats the pollen as an invasion and marshals a response to it. This is precisely what most allergies are; the following are the resulting symptoms of your body’s defense:

  • Sneezing may be one of the most common causes to breathing in the fine powder that comprises pollen
  • Runny or stuffy nose – general nasal congestion
  • Watery eyes
  • An allergic response can trigger a decrease in your ability to taste and smell food
  • Sinus pressure
  • Asthmatic reactions
  • Hay fever
  • Allergic rhinitis

Allergies to pollen can’t be cured – and the reason why makes sense when you think about it. After all, your body is actually trying to protect you from an alien invasion of very fine pollen grains. The origin is the immune system, itself, and it is conducting what would ordinarily be its most useful service. It simply doesn’t recognize that pollen is generally harmless; it simply “knows” that it shouldn’t be in your body and so takes steps to defend against it.

How Can You Fight Pollen-Induced Allergies?

Most health professionals agree that avoidance is the best measure when feasible. Plants such as ragweed, oak pollen and grass pollen are trying fertilize at the same time every year – sometime around late spring and very early fall.

There are national broadcasts detailing days when you can expect high pollen counts; usually, the fine powder is in the air in the early to late morning hours. If you can avoid it, or protect your nose and mouth, then this will significantly reduce the chances that you trigger an immune response. Dry, windy days are when people who are susceptible to pollen allergies should try to stay indoors as much as possible. Invest in a dust mask if you must go outside, and make sure to close windows and doors to avoid letting in insects that carry pollen grains.

If you are beset by allergy symptoms, then you can always see a doctor. Most are well aware of the range of allergens, and can refer you to a specialist if needed. Over-the-counter antihistamines work adequately well for many people, as well as decongestants to provide relief for symptoms. There are home remedies to help you avoid pollen altogether, such as HEPA filters, dehumidifiers and air conditioning. An allergy shot is always an option as the season for plant fertilization nears; these tend to do a great job of dampening your immune response to pollen.

 

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Different Types of Pollen

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Image is from Pollen.com

As we roll into spring and then the summer months (they’ll be here before you know it), the presence of pollen in the air starts to become a concern for millions of Americans. In fact, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (the AAFA), about 18 million adults and 7 million kids will be affected each year by dust and pollen. It is helpful to know what kind of pollen is in the atmosphere, and the sources from which they derive.

Grass – Ryegrass Pollen

Even if you didn’t know the name before now, if you’ve ever been to a rural area where farmland is abundant and the vegetation is lush, then you’ve likely seen the tall green stalks of ryegrass. Although there are ryegrass extracts that are marketed to help with noncancerous enlarged prostate glands, the natural pollen can cause allergic reactions in those susceptible to it.

Grass – Timothy Grass Pollen

This pollen derives as the offshoot of a grass that grows up to four feet tall. The spores are especially small, and you may inhale them without knowing it – only to be beset by a mild to serious allergic reaction later in the day. Allergy season for Timothy grass pollen generally starts in June and ends a month later.

Tree Pollen

Tree Pollen is of a wide variety, and includes Willow, Hazelnut, Cedar, Hornbeam, Birch, Alder, Olive and more. Early spring is the harbinger, which is around very late March. Usually the dust is even smaller than grass pollen, and so can be carried very far on the wind. An interesting fact is that trees that bear flowers tend to have larger pollen grains, which don’t trigger allergies nearly as much since they can’t easily be carried on the wind.

The closer you live to tress such as Cottonwood or Elm, the more likely you could be subject to allergies caused by their airborne pollen. The good news is that there are alerts as when the pollen count is high, and all you have to do is avoid being outside unprotected during those times (as well as keeping your windows and doors shut). Also – avoid eating the fruits from such trees, as they can trigger your propensity to getting an allergic reaction from the pollen.

Weed Pollen

Weeds are plants that pollinate, too, and the some of the ones to watch out for are Ragweed, Sorrel, Mugwort, Goosefoot and Nettle weeds.

In particular, Mugwort weed releases very allergenic pollen that derives from a 6-foot tall plant in North America, Asia and Europe. You’ll find it in rural areas and places where the terrain is rough; where a hardy plant is required in order to survive. In North America, pollen season for Mugwort is from late summer to early fall – not very long. However, it is known to cause oral allergy syndrome and hay fever.

Nettle actually comes in a large variety of weeds; all of which generally possess small spikes. There’s the Stinging Nettle, Dwarf Nettle, California Nettle and Dog Nettle as examples. Strangely enough, nettle leaves can also be used to help relieve allergies when made as a tea – it has antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. In its pure form, however, the pollen it releases can cause you to sneeze all summer long.

For the most part, the types of pollen that exist are covered in the general categories of trees, grass and weed. They all have the potential to react negatively with your immune system, which treats it as a foreign object and engages an immune response.

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Understanding Allergic Conjunctivitis

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What is Allergic Conjunctivitis?

Most people suffer from allergic conjunctivitis when their eyes are exposed to foreign substances such as pollen or mold spores, their eyes become itchy, red and watery. These are the most common symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis.

The outer layer of your eyeballs and the inside of your eyelids have a membrane called conjunctiva which is susceptible to inflammation caused by allergens, especially during the hay fever season. This condition is quite common as it is your body’s natural reaction to foreign substances that may be potentially harmful.

What are the Types of Allergic Conjunctivitis?

There are basically two types of allergic conjunctivitis;

  • Acute allergic conjunctivitis- this is the more common of the two and is generally seasonal. Unique symptoms found in acute allergic conjunctivitis are runny nose, itchy eyes and/or swollen eyelids.
  • Chronic allergic conjunctivitis- this condition might be less common but occurs all year round and is triggered by things such as dust, food or animal dander. Symptoms of chronic allergic conjunctivitis are itchy eyes and burning while some people experience light sensitivity.

What are the Common Causes of Allergic Conjunctivitis?

Your body will naturally react to foreign and potentially harmful objects. The body releases histamine which is a chemical that is used to fight off any foreign substance. This reaction is what causes allergic conjunctivitis.

Some of the most common substances that cause this reaction are;

  • Mold spores
  • Chemical scents from detergents
  • Animal dander
  • Dust
  • Pollen from trees and flowers
  • Certain medication when it comes into eye contact

People who already suffer from other types of allergies are more prone to develop allergic conjunctivitis over time. However, this condition usually affects children and young adults. If you already have allergies, consider living in a location with low pollen count so as to reduce the risk of acquiring allergic conjunctivitis.

Diagnosis of Allergic Conjunctivitis

  • The first step is to always see a doctor. By examining your eyes and looking at your allergy history, they can easily diagnose the disease. Allergic conjunctivitis are characterized by redness in the white area of the eye and bumps on the inside of the eyelid. Some of these symptoms are invisible to the naked eye, but the doctor will use specialized tools to magnify the eyes.
  • There are additional tests that the doctor may be required to carry out to determine what your body is reacting to and this could mean exposure of the skin to specific allergens.
  • A blood test may also be necessary to determine whether your body is producing the appropriate anti-bodies to protect itself from specific allergens.
  • A scraping of your conjunctiva tissue so as to evaluate your white blood cells can also be done.

How is allergic conjunctivitis treated?

Treatment usually involves a combination of preventative measures to minimize exposure to allergens and activities to ease the symptoms;

  • Cleaning the house and ensuring it is dust free
  • Using an indoor air purifier
  • Closing the windows when the pollen count is high
  • Reducing exposure to harsh chemicals, perfumes and dyes

To ease the symptoms avoid rubbing your eyes as that makes it even itchier. A cool compress applied to the eyes helps in reducing the inflammation.

Medications

In more severe cases, the doctor may prescribe the following;

  • Anti-inflammation eye drops
  • Steroid eye drops
  • Eye drops that shrink congested blood vessels
  • Oral antihistamine to reduce the histamine that is responsible for the inflammation.
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Genetic Pathway to Allergies?

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Image is from CO Exist

An allergy is defined as a condition where the immune system reacts abnormally to a foreign substance. There are many different types of allergies. These include:

  • Medications
  • Food
  • Pollen
  • Latex
  • Animal Dander
  • Mold

The Genetic Risk

The tendency to develop allergies is genetic, therefore, they are hereditary, which means they are passed down from parent to child. However, this does not happen 100% of the time. Just because you or your spouse may have allergies doesn’t mean your child will definitely inherit them. For example, while approximately 17.6 million adults have been diagnosed with hay fever, less than half of that number of children, 6.6 million, have inherited the same allergy.

Additionally, children do not inherit a particular allergy, rather they inherit the tendency to develop them. For example, a parent may be allergic to pollen and develop hay fever, while their child may be allergic to chocolate and develop atopic eczema or dermatitis. Conversely, some children develop allergies when no known family member has them. Chances are if you are allergic to one substance, you are likely to be allergic to others.

Developing allergies because of your genetic links is known as atopic. While over half the children from atopic families will develop allergies, only one in five from unaffected families will be diagnosed. In families where both parents have allergies, this risk of their children inheriting them is slightly higher. If only one parent has been diagnosed, that risk decreases, however, it is important to note that if the mother has allergies, there is a slightly greater chance her children will develop them than if the father does.

The Allergic March

An allergy often follows a particular pattern where it is diagnosed in infancy through the toddler stage and into childhood, sometimes persisting into adulthood when a lifelong condition is diagnosed. When one allergic disease subsides and another takes its place, it is called the Allergic March. A common pattern is when atopic eczema leads to a food allergy, then asthma, and finally rhinitis. Some children, instead of experiencing the Allergic March, will experience a cumulative effect, meaning that one allergy does not replace another; it just gets added onto what they already have. Keep in mind, however, that all children are different; some may simply develop one allergy for life, instead of experiencing the Allergic March or a cumulative effect.

Common Allergens

Unfortunately, there are many allergens out there. The most common types are airborne and food. Some airborne allergies include:

  • Pollen
  • Dust Mites
  • Mold
  • Pets
  • Cockroaches

Food allergies include:

  • Wheat
  • Soy
  • Peanuts and tree nuts
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Eggs
  • Cow’s milk.

Other common allergens include:

  • Insects, such as a bee sting
  • Chemicals
  • Medications

There are also cross-reactions and cross contamination. Cross-reactions happen when someone who has an allergy to one thing, has a reaction to another. For example, someone who is allergic to birch tree pollen might react to eating an apple if it contains a protein similar to one in the pollen. Another example is that people who are allergic to latex often react to bananas, avocados, chestnuts, and kiwi.

Cross contamination happens when you come in contact with a substance you are not allergic to, but it was processed with something you are during production or packaging. It can also happen at restaurants or even at home when the same utensils or surfaces are used for more than one type of food.

While genetics is not the sole cause of allergies, it has been proven that many allergies are hereditary, so you should be evaluated if you have a family history.

 

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High Pollen Count This Year

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Image is from Pollen.com

Individuals with pollen allergies may face tough times this year as pollen count is said to heighten. Growth and development of trees as well their production of pollen will soon intensify since the tree season is historically known to begin in early to mid-March or April (latest). Chances are that the season might peak with high pollen counts. Additionally, the grass season (known for grass pollen) generally starts at around may, which in any case will worsen the situation. If you are usually allergic to pollen, this is to say misery and adversity awaits you. Apart from the usual allergic reaction of sneezing, coughing, itchy eyes, headaches, throat aches and a runny nose, a combination of high pollen counts could result in wheezing and a lot of trouble while breathing. Precaution is much needed especially because an inflamed airway from allergic triggers could eventually develop into asthma which is fatal. If you have developed pollen allergies in the past, it is only prudent to take medication early enough before the season hits.

Pollen Allergies

Outdoor allergens such as pollen are the leading causes of seasonal allergies. It’s possible for the wind to carry pollen for long distances since they are light, small and dry. The levels of pollen vary each day depending upon various factors such as the weather.

Common Pollen Allergies

The following types of pollen allergies are the most prevalent:

  • Grass pollen

Grasses usually release pollen as from late spring until fall. Out of over 1,200 species of grass, the major causative of allergies are Bermuda, Johnson, blue, Timothy, sweet vernal and orchard grasses.

  • Weed pollen

Ragweed is a weed pollen plant that has grown throughout the United States especially in pastures and dry fields and even at construction sites and by roadsides. This tall and branched plant produces a lot of pollen which makes it a major causative agent of hay fever in most areas. As a result of high weed pollen count this year, you may experience severe pollen allergy symptoms.

  • Tree pollen

Hardwood deciduous trees typically pollinate from late winter towards the end of spring, but this might depend on your geographical location. Watch out for pollen from the following trees:

  • hazel
  • ash
  • elm
  • oak
  • birch
  • alder
  • maple

Symptoms of Pollen Allergy

The most common symptoms of allergy include nasal congestion, runny nose, itchy watery eyes, and sneezing. An allergist can help you perform allergy testing so as to determine whether you are reacting to pollen or you’re allergic to another substance like dust mites, pet danger or mold.

Tips for Pollen Allergy Relief

The following are smart and simple tips to help relieve you when you have pollen allergy:

  • Cover up – put on a simple painter’s mask when performing outside chores or working in the garden.
  • Beat the clock – Since pollen production is at its peak early in the morning, try to plan outdoor activities for other times of the day
  • Seek for clean air always – when at home, you could achieve this by keeping windows closed and using an air conditioner as well as often changing filters. When driving, keep all windows up and set the car’s air conditioner on “recirculate.”
  • A change of clothes of clothes could do – When you get home, taking a quick bath and changing clothes can work effectively at eradicating pollen that may have collected on fabrics or hair while you were outside.
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5 Hacks to Keep Outdoor Allergies Symptoms Away

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Image is from Everyday Health

Millions of people have to deal with outdoor allergies on a daily basis. The problem becomes more rampant during the spring and the summer when flowers are in full bloom and there is too much pollen in the air. While keeping allergens away in the house is easy, you have little if not control over what happens when you are outdoors.

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, up to 30 percent of the world’s population suffers from hay fever. While medicine might be a great way to combat outdoor allergy, there are other non-medicinal approaches that will give you an upper hand over the condition.

Shower Before Going to Bed

Showering before going to bed will wash off that pollen from your skin and hair keeping it off the bed sheets and pillows. You won’t spend the whole night rolling in a sea of pollen only to wake up feeling soggy and awful in the morning. It will be a great idea to wash your bedding in hot water more often to get rid of any residual pollen.

Stay Indoors in the Morning

Pollen count will be at its highest early in the morning. This is between 5am and 10am. If possible, stay indoors and wait until this high activity period is over before stepping out. You, however, don’t have to worry it rains since the rain will wash away the pollen. You will have the hardest time on a dry, warm and windy day.

Irrigate Your Nasal Cavities

Nasal irrigation flushes out allergens and extra mucus from the sinuses and nostrils. Saline nasal rinses and neti pots are effective at cleaning dust, pollen and other irritating elements from your nostrils before they trigger a catastrophic allergic reaction.

Dress Appropriately When Visiting High Risk Areas

If you cannot stay indoors and avoid high risk areas like open fields or other places with heavy allergen concentrations, you will be better off covering your eyes and perhaps nostrils. A wide-brim hat and sunglasses will keep the allergen from your eyes. If the symptoms are severe, consider wearing a mast to protect your nose too.

Keep Off Some Foods

Raw and fresh fruit plucked straight from the tree will still have traces of the pollen or compounds that trigger your allergic reactions. Even though it is healthy, its impact on your health might be more terrifying. This will only apply to people who are allergic to specific pollen. People allergic to birch tree pollen might have trouble consuming fresh apples.

When Prevention Fails

Prevention might be the first line of defense against allergic reactions. However, the little control we have over the open environment makes it very hard to control what we breathe without looking paranoid. Covering your eyes, nose and mouth with a mast will work but it might be too extreme.

In such cases, it would be wise to keep your allergy medication nearby and use it when you get the first symptoms. If you’re very sensitive to outdoor allergens and can alter your schedule to stay indoors until safer times of the day, you will live a better life with less attacks.

Staying healthy and drinking lots of water will keep your body healthy and increase your endurance. It won’t necessarily better your immunity to the allergen but you will feel less awful when you get an attack and have to use medication to fight it off. Keep your home clean, well aerated and humidified to give you a safe resting place at the end of the day.

 

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Allergies Starting Early This Year

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Image is from ABC News

Mild Winters: The Agony And The Ecstasy

When the sun comes out and the snow melts away, many people are overjoyed by the decreased need for warmer clothes. It is ever so nice to enjoy a day outdoors in the middle of February! But then the sniffles come, followed by the sneezes, the coughs, and all the other things which develop as allergies manifest. It can actually become confusing, because those who have seasonal allergies begin to wonder whether they’ve contracted a cold, or are experiencing some allergic reaction.

A good way to tell is to ask yourself whether or not that feeling of “weakness” is present. When you have the common cold, or the flu, there is an achy, tingly sort of pain that makes moving difficult. When you’ve got an allergic reaction tainting your daily activities, you’re usually just stuffed up; or maybe your eyes are more easily irritated. The disconnect comes when such allergy symptoms hit in the middle of February. This year, many are experiencing confusion because allergy season has hit early, and the reason is the mild winters.

Flowering Foliage

Plants aren’t so much interested with the time of year, as they are with sunlight, warmth, and other factors that induce them to flower. More mild winters bring springtime bloom more quickly than in a conventional seasonal cycle. As a result, more plants flower more quickly, releasing more pollen into the air. Increased pollen leads to increased allergic reaction. When winters are mild, allergy season starts early; it’s as simple as that. Extensive rains in California and decreased quotients of snow in New York are afflicting both population centers with early-onset allergies, and it can be a real scourge if you are seasonally affected. But there are ways to guard yourself against such allergens.

Ways To Protect Yourself

The primary means allergies afflict us are through airborne pollen and other flora output. From ragweed to certain flowers and even trees, there are many allergens present when plants begin to flower. They’re going to flow on the breezes, and they’ll often enter your home through open windows and doors. When the weather is fine in February, oftentimes people have an instinct to open a window or use the screen door. These allow for easier access from airborne allergens. Your strategy should be to curtail such allergens.

  • Don’t Leave Doors Or Windows Open
  • Avoid Areas Of Heavy Foliage
  • Refrain From Touching Your Face
  • Take A Spoonful Of Locally Made Honey Daily

The most likely areas allergens gain entry to your home are doors and windows left open; especially if you’re in an area where there is a great deal of foliage. Avoid such areas where you can, and whether at home or outdoors, try to avoid touching your face as much as possible. This can be difficult, as we often wipe our noses, eyes, and mouth unconsciously; but our hands are very likely to come into contact with varying allergens, and so transfer them to areas more susceptible to causing allergic reaction. Lastly, honey is made by bees who collect pollen from a variety of sources locally. When you eat and digest this honey, it’s kind of like a gentle, natural form of vaccination. The difference being no viral components are involved. The only caveat here is that the honey must be sourced locally, and can’t come from a provider who has acquired it outside your area.

Early Allergies Require Concerted Preparation

The worst part about allergy season is that when it starts early, it doesn’t usually end early. If you’re susceptible, you want to prepare accordingly.

 

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Why Do We Have Allergies?

Image is from The Huffington Post

Allergies make thousands of people miserable in a day. We don’t even fully understand why our bodies bother to stir up such an uncomfortable reaction. Even though scientists and immunologists don’t have an exact explanation as to why we have allergies, the basics to this pertinent issues exist. The haze might still be there but scientists believe they have uncovered a molecular reason that could drive human allergic reactions.

What Are Allergies?

Allergies are otherwise immune reactions gone wrong. They will upset the stomach, activate sneezing, lead to skin rashes or even lead to catastrophic anaphylactic shock. The reaction occurs when your immune system detects a foreign body and activates a series of reactions meant to remove that foreign body from our system.

This is a normal reaction that occurs when the body detects germs and pathogens only that the allergen in this case would be relatively harmless to the body. It could be as simple as pollen, dust or egg protein.

How Does the Allergy Process Occur

When the allergen enters the body, your plasma cells release immunoglobulin E antibodies specific to that allergen. These antibodies make their way to mast cells located in areas like your skin and the mucous membranes. These cells are in charge of inflammatory responses that improve the way your body reacts to foreign objects.

The other time your body encounters the allergen, the Mast Cells will release histamines, prostaglandins and leukotrienes, cells that will in turn trigger a wide range of allergic reactions whose sole purpose is to get rid of the allergen before it gets deeper into your body.

This will lead to:

  • Constricted airways in the case of asthma
  • Sneezing and runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Dry cough
  • Increased phlegm or runny nose due to hypersecretion of mucus
  • Itchy or rashy skin

So far, the best way to fight an allergic reaction is by taking specific antihistamines that will cool down the rate at which the body reacts to the allergen. Scientists are yet to devise a fool-proof way of fighting allergens that will make you immune to that specific compound that gets your immune system tripping.

Drug Free Alternatives to Combat Allergies

Most people opt to keep of their triggers in order to avoid allergic reactions. Stocking a couple of reaction specific antihistamines also seems to be a great way to come prepared since most of the allergens are almost inevitable.

Apart from this abstinence and medical intervention, there are other medicine free approaches that help people with allergic reactions live an almost normal life.

If you are not allergic to honey, you can use it to accustom your body to pollen and reduce asthma or allergic reactions to pollen. Locally produced and unprocessed honey is the best. Use it sparingly until you are sure your body can tolerate it.

Acupuncture is a mythical treatment procedure that delivers results. Weekly acupuncture treatments can lead to fewer breathing problems and could be a great way out to people allergic to pollen.

A healthy diet and healthy living gives you more wiggle room. A research proved that junk food is directly related to allergies and asthma especially in kids.

Allergic reactions don’t have a perfect cure. The best you can do is mitigate the effects and be ready to appease the symptoms once they kick in. At least this will be our way around these unwanted and uncomfortable immune responses until doctors and scientists find a way to teach our bodies that allergens aren’t as harmful as it thinks they are.

 

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Understanding Milk Allergy

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Image is from Food Safety News

One of the most common food allergy in infants and young children is milk allergy. Common symptoms can vary from mild reactions such as hives to severe ones such as anaphylaxis.

It is approximated that around 2.5% of children below the age of three years are allergic to milk since most children who suffer from this condition do so in their first year. The allergy however, dissipates as children grow older depending on the milk antibodies in their blood. It therefore means, that it is possible for your physician to determine whether your child will outgrow the milk allergy by simply measuring these antibodies.

The sensitivity to these allergy varies from one person to the other. There are those who experience a severe reaction upon ingestion of a small amount of milk whereas there are those who experience a mild reaction after consuming a moderate amount. However, some reactions can be life-threatening and this is why this allergy can not be taken so lightly.

 

Differences between lactose intolerance and milk allergy

Lactose intolerance should not be confused with milk allergy. A food allergy has to do with the immune system, which overreacts upon the introduction of a specific food protein. When the food protein is consumed, it triggers an allergic reaction that ranges from hives, rashes, itching, swelling, wheezing, breathing difficulties and even loss of consciousness.

Food intolerance, on the other hand, does not involve the immune system. People who suffer from lactose intolerance simply lack an enzyme called lactase, that is responsible for breaking down a sugar found in dairy products called lactose. Consequently, a lactose-intolerant patient will be unable to digest any food that contains lactose and may experience symptoms such as diarrhea, gas, bloating, cramps and nausea. While this condition can be very uncomfortable, it is not life threatening.

 

Formula for infants with milk allergy

Infants who are allergic to milk are supposed to be fed with a formula that contains milk which has been hydrolyzed. This means that the protein contained in the milk has been extensively broken down which makes it different from the protein found in your normal milk and therefore causes no allergic reactions. Some doctors also recommend soy-based formula on condition that the child is not allergic to soy.

A milk-free formula is supposed to be used past the one year mark as it contains essential nutrients that are necessary for children who have a restricted diet due to food allergies. It is always recommended to consult with a doctor or nutritionist so as to ensure that you meet the nutritional requirements of your child.

 

Management and treatment

The only way to control a milk allergy is to avoid milk products altogether. It is therefore, crucial for parents of children who have milk allergy to read product labels very carefully. The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) dictates that all food products sold in the USA with mild products must be labeled with the word “Milk”.

There are two common types of milk proteins; whey and casein. Whey is found in the liquid part of milk and constitutes 20% of all the milk proteins while casein is found in the solid part of milk and contains the other 80% of the milk proteins. Milk proteins can be found in many products, some of which are unexpected. For example, sausage, canned tuna, meat and even some beverages such as energy and body building drinks. Therefore, if symptoms of milk allergy occur, track your diet for the culprit and report to your allergist.

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Understanding Allergy Diagnosis

Allergy-Testing

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Allergies are a very common problem. One in five Americans have symptoms of allergies or asthma, and over half of people tested for allergies test positive for one or more allergies. Despite the commonness of allergies, it can be difficult to understand your allergy diagnosis.

Medical History and Symptoms

Your allergy diagnosis will begin with your doctor taking a medical history and asking you about your symptoms. They will also perform a physical exam to check for any common allergy symptoms.

Allergic Rhinitis

If your allergy symptoms involve a runny or stuffy nose and itchy eyes, you are most likely suffering from allergic rhinitis. These can include pets, pollen, dust, and mold. Your doctor may choose to treat you with medication and forego further testing. Your doctor may be able to tell you what you are most likely to be allergic to based on your symptoms and when they occur.

Drug and Insect Allergies

Drug allergies and allergies to insect stings can cause itching, swelling, hives, and anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening condition that can cause nausea, a severe drop in blood pressure, severe breathing difficulty, unconsciousness, and death. These allergies are easily identified because you will develop symptoms after being exposed to your allergen. If you are diagnosed with one of these allergens, you will need to take great care to avoid them.

Allergy Testing

Allergy testing is needed when a medical history and exam isn’t enough to make a diagnosis. They can be performed to diagnose any type of allergy.

Skin Prick Test

A skin prick test is an accurate way to diagnose most allergies, including those caused by environmental allergens, food, and contact allergies. The doctor will place a small amount of the allergen on your skin and prick or scratch it. If you are allergic to the substance, you will develop swelling, redness, and itching at the site within fifteen minutes. A positive test result means that you are likely allergic to the substance.

Blood Tests

Blood tests can be useful when you are taking medications to manage your allergy symptoms or you have very sensitive skin. The doctor will draw your blood. Then the lab will expose your blood to your suspected allergens. They then measure the amount of antibodies your body produces in response to the allergen.

Patch Test

The patch test is generally used when your doctor suspects that you have contact dermatitis. The doctor will place the allergen on your skin and apply a bandage. After 24-48 hours, the doctor will remove the bandage and check for any reaction. Redness and itching at the site means that you are allergic to the substance. The patch test can also be used with trays. The tray has small compartments that contain different allergens. This is an effective way to test for multiple skin allergies at once.

 

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