May 7, 2020

How Can You Reduce and Prevent Mold Allergy?
Mold is a type of multicellular organism found throughout nature and in our own homes. People are said to have a mold allergy when their immune system overreacts to breathing in mold spores.

February 3, 2017

Sinusitis is an inflammation or infection of the sinuses, the air-filled chambers in the skull that are located around the nose. Symptoms of sinusitis include thick nasal discharge, facial pain or pressure, fever, and reduced sense of smell. Depending on how long these symptoms last, sinusitis is classified as acute, subacute, chronic, or recurrent. Viruses are the most common cause of acute sinusitis, but bacteria are responsible for most of the serious cases.

Sinusitis, also called rhinosinusitis, affects about 1 in 8 adults annually and generally occurs when viruses or bacteria infect the sinuses (often during a cold) and begin to multiply. Part of the body’s reaction to the infection causes the sinus lining to swell, blocking the channels that drain the sinuses. This causes mucus and pus to fill up the nose and sinus cavities.

What are Sinuses?

Sinuses are hollow spaces in the bones around the nose that connect to the nose through small, narrow channels. The sinuses stay healthy when the channels are open, which allows air from the nose to enter the sinuses and mucus made in the sinuses to drain into the nose.

Four pairs of sinuses, known as the paranasal air sinuses, connect to the nasal passages (the two airways running through the nose):

  • Frontal sinuses (behind the forehead)
  • Maxillary sinuses (behind the cheekbones)
  • Ethmoid sinuses (behind the nose)
  • Sphenoid sinuses (behind the eyes)

Sinusitis occurs if obstruction or congestion cause the paranasal sinus openings to become blocked. When the sinus openings become blocked or too much mucus builds up in the chambers, bacteria and other germs can grow more easily, leading to infection and inflammation.

Types of Sinusitis

  • Acute sinusitis gives rise to severe symptoms but is usually short-lived. Acute sinusitis usually occurs following a cold. Typically a green-yellow nasal discharge occurs a week or more after the onset of the cold and this is associated with severe pain around the cheeks, eyes and/or forehead. This may be associated with swelling and a high fever along with toothache.


  • Chronic sinusitis is sinusitis that continues for many weeks. Chronic sinusitis may be caused by an acute sinus infection which fails to resolve or as a result of an underlying allergy affecting the lining membranes of the nose and sinuses. Common symptoms include nasal obstruction, headache, nasal discharge, low grade fever, reduced sense of smell, facial pain and halitosis.



Infections – Most adults will get colds and upper respiratory tract infections up to three times a year. Children get them more frequently. Bacterial infections often follow the common cold. When the mucus changes from clear to yellow or green it usually means a bacterial infection has developed. Both viral and bacterial infections cause swelling of the tissues inside the nose and thickening of the normal mucus. This slows down or even stops proper sinus drainage and infection in the sinus may ensue.

Irritants – Air pollution, smoke and chemical irritants, for example some sprays containing pesticides, disinfectants and household detergents, may cause swelling and blockage of the lining of the nose causing a narrowing of the drainage opening from the sinuses. This can once again lead to impairment of sinus drainage and consequent infection.

Allergies – Allergies can cause inflammation inside the nose. Common symptoms of an allergic reaction include nasal stuffiness, runny nose, sneezing and itchy watery eyes. Chronic sinusitis is sometimes associated with asthma. Allergies are responsible for asthma in some patients and may also cause nasal stuffiness making the asthma more difficult to control.

Structural problems – Occasionally structural problems within the nasal cavity can cause a narrowing. Some of these can be caused as a result of trauma while others may develop during the growth period. Occasionally the structural narrowing can be so severe that mucus builds up behind these areas of blockage giving rise to sinus infection.

Risk Factors

  • Certain factors increase a person’s susceptibility to sinusitis, including:
  • Frequent colds (especially for young children)
  • Cigarette smoking (active or passive)
  • Regular use of nasal decongestant sprays (for more than two to three days)
  • Untreated hay fever or other allergies
  • Structural abnormalities of the nose
  • Nasal polyps (swellings in the linings of the nose or sinuses)
  • Dental disease, such as untreated tooth abscess.


Common symptoms of sinusitis include

  • Postnasal drip
  • Discolored nasal discharge (greenish in color)
  • Nasal stuffiness or congestion
  • Tenderness of the face (particularly under the eyes or at the bridge of the nose)
  • Frontal headaches
  • Pain in the teeth
  • Coughing
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Bad breath

Sinus disease is often confused with rhinitis, a medical term used to describe the symptoms that accompany nasal inflammation and irritation. Rhinitis only involves the nasal passages. It could be caused by a cold or allergies.

Allergies can play an important role in chronic (long-lasting) or seasonal rhinitis episodes. Nasal and sinus passages become swollen, congested, and inflamed in an attempt to flush out offending inhaled particles that trigger allergies. Pollen are seasonal allergens. Molds, dust mites and pet dander can cause symptoms year-round.

Asthma also has been linked to chronic sinus disease. Some people with a chronic nasal inflammation and irritation and/or asthma can develop a type of chronic sinus disease that is not caused by infection. Appropriate treatment of sinus disease often improves asthma symptoms.


Asthma flare-ups – Chronic sinusitis can trigger an asthma attack.

Meningitis – This infection causes inflammation of the membranes and fluid surrounding your brain and spinal cord.

Vision problems – If infection spreads to your eye socket, it can cause reduced vision or even blindness that can be permanent.

Aneurysms or blood clots – Infection can cause problems in the veins surrounding the sinuses, interfering with blood supply to your brain and putting you at risk of a stroke.

Osteomyelitis – Adolescent males with acute frontal sinusitis are at particular risk for severe problem. n such cases, the patient usually experiences headache, fever, and a soft swelling over the bone known as Pott’s puffy tumor.


Antibiotics – Antibiotics are standard treatments for bacterial sinusitis. Antibiotics are usually taken from 3 to 28 days, depending on the type of antibiotic. Because the sinuses are deep-seated in the bones, and blood supply is limited, longer treatments may be prescribed for people with longer lasting or severe cases. Antibiotics help eliminate sinus disease by attacking the bacteria that cause it, but until the drugs take effect, they do not do much to alleviate symptoms. Some over-the-counter medications can help provide relief.

Nasal decongestant sprays – Topical nasal decongestants can be helpful if used for no more than three to four days. These medications shrink swollen nasal passages, facilitating the flow of drainage from the sinuses. Overuse of topical nasal decongestants can result in a dependent condition in which the nasal passages swell shut, called rebound phenomenon.

Antihistamines – Antihistamines block inflammation caused by an allergic reaction so they can help to fight symptoms of allergies that can lead to swollen nasal and sinus passages.

Nasal decongestants and antihistamines – Over-the-counter combination drugs should be used with caution. Some of these drugs contain drying agents that can thicken mucus. Only use them when prescribed by your doctor.

Topical nasal corticosteroids – These prescription nasal sprays prevent and reverse inflammation and swelling in the nasal passages and sinus openings, addressing the biggest problem associated with sinusitis. Topical nasal corticosteroid sprays are also effective in shrinking and preventing the return of nasal polyps. These sprays at the normal dose are not absorbed into the blood stream and could be used over long periods of time without developing “addiction.”

Nasal saline washes – Nasal rinses can help clear thickened secretions from the nasal passages.

Surgery – If drug therapies have failed, surgery may be recommended as a last resort. It is usually performed by an otolaryngologist. Anatomical defects are the most common target of surgery.

Alternative Treatment

Bromelain – Several studies suggest that bromelain, an enzyme derived from pineapples, may help reduce inflammation and swelling and relieve symptoms of sinusitis.

Quercetin – Quercetin is a flavonoid, a plant pigment responsible for the colors found in fruits and vegetables.

Probiotics – Probiotics, or “friendly” bacteria, may be helpful if you are taking antibiotics for sinusitis. They may also reduce your chances of developing allergies. Probiotics may not be appropriate for certain people who are extremely immunocompromised or who take immunosuppresent drugs.

N-acetylcysteine – NAC is a modified form of a dietary amino acid that works as an antioxidant in the body. It also helps thin mucus.

Sinupret – The herbs it contains may work by thinning mucus and helping the sinuses drain, and they may also help strengthen the immune system.

Chiropractic – Although no studies have examined using chiropractic to treat sinusitis, some practitioners suggest it may decrease pain and improve sinus drainage for some people.

February 3, 2017

Migraines are a type of recurring severe headache that can cause you to have time off work and need to rest in bed. They are often accompanied by feeling sick, vomiting or an increased sensitivity to light.

It’s estimated that about 36 million Americans suffer from migraine, but only 1 of every 3 people talk with a doctor about their headaches. Of those, only half get the right diagnosis.

Women are roughly three times more likely to get migraines than men. About four in every 20 women get migraines, while only about one in every 20 men do. You can get migraines for the first time at any age, but they commonly start during the teenage years.

In general, a migraine is a very bad headache that tends to come back. It may occur as often as several times a week or only once every few years. It can last anywhere from a few hours to 3 days. The pain usually begins in the morning, on one side of the head. (In fact, the word migraine is derived from a Greek word that means “half-head.”) Less frequently, the entire head is swallowed up by pain.

The amount of pain can vary. Some migraines can be fairly mild, while others seem almost unbearable. Obviously, the worse the pain, the more trouble you have carrying out daily activities, whether it’s going to work or simply getting out of bed. Of course, different people have different abilities to put up with pain. For some people, even a mild migraine can force them to lie down; others are able to work through a more severe migraine.

Two types of migraines

While there are many variations, there are two main types of migraines –

Migraine without aura (previously called common migraine) – Almost 80 percent of migraine sufferers have this type of migraine.

Migraine with aura (previously called classic migraine) – This type of migraine announces itself about a half-hour before the onset of head pain with an aura.

Aura is a term used to describe the visual or sensory symptoms that some people get when their migraine is starting. The following are less common types of migraine –

  • Retinal migraines are headaches associated with visual changes in one eye only.
  • Abdominal migraines are associated with stomach pains, and happen more often in children.
  • Menstrual migraines can happen in women two days before their period starts or finishes.
  • Status migrainosus are migraines that can last for a few weeks.

Migraine is a medical condition that can have a big effect on your life and others caring for you. It can affect your daily life and can mean taking time off work or school.




There are many theories that discuss the causes of migraine. The cortical spreading depression (CSD) theory suggests that migraine is a disease of the brain such as angina is a disease of the heart. Disruption of normal brain functioning is believed to be the underlying cause of the migraine pain and aura. Another theory is the vascular theory which suggests that migraines result from the widening of blood vessels surrounding the brain. The chemical serotonin is also thought to play an important role in migraine development. While the precise cause of migraines remains unknown, a number of potential migraine triggers (habits or conditions associated with the onset of a migraine) have been identified.

Some people who suffer from migraines can clearly identify triggers or factors that cause the headaches, but many cannot. Potential migraine triggers include –

  • Allergies and allergic reactions
  • Bright lights, loud noises, flickering lights, smoky rooms, temperature changes, strong smells and certain odors or perfumes
  • Physical or emotional stress, tension, anxiety, depression, excitement
  • Physical triggers such as tiredness, jet lag, exercise
  • Changes in sleep patterns or irregular sleep
  • Smoking or exposure to smoke
  • Skipping meals or fasting causing low blood sugar
  • Dehydration
  • Alcohol
  • Hormonal triggers such as menstrual cycle fluctuations, birth control pills, menopause
  • Tension headaches
  • Foods containing tyramine (red wine, aged cheese, smoked fish, chicken livers, figs, and some beans), monosodium glutamate (MSG), or nitrates (like bacon, hot dogs and salami)
  • Other foods such as chocolate, nuts, peanut butter, avocado, banana, citrus, onions, dairy products and fermented or pickled foods
  • Medication such as sleeping tablets, the contraceptive pill, hormone replacement therapy.
  • A higher percentage of obese people have episodic (occasional) migraines compared to individuals with a healthy body weight.
  • Sudden weather changes, including a drop in barometric pressure or changes in temperature, humidity, or wind
  • Loud noises
  • Perfumes or fumes
  • Secondhand smoke
  • Exposure to glare or flickering lights




Migraine symptoms may begin one to two days before the headache itself. This is known as the migraine’s prodrome stage. Symptoms include –

  • Food cravings
  • Depression
  • Fatigue or low energy
  • Frequent yawning
  • Hyperactivity
  • Irritability
  • Neck stiffness

Some people may also experience an aura after the prodrome stage. An aura causes visual, motor, and/or speech disturbances, such as –

  • Difficulty speaking clearly
  • Feeling a prickling or tingling sensation in the arms and legs
  • Flashes of light
  • Seeing shapes, light flashes or bright spots
  • Transient vision loss

The next phase is known as the attack phase. This is the most acute or severe of the phases when the actual migraine occurs. Attack phase symptoms can last anywhere from four hours to three days. Symptoms of a migraine can vary from person to person. Some symptoms may include –

  • Feeling dizzy or faint
  • Increased sensitivity to light and sound
  • Nausea
  • Pain on one side of the head
  • Pulsing and/or throbbing pain
  • Vomiting

Risk Factors

Family history – You are much more likely to have migraines if one or both of your parents had migraines.

Sex – Women are more likely than men to have migraines.

Age – Most people have their first migraine during adolescence, but migraines can start at any age, usually before age 40.





Analgesia – Over-the-counter medications such as naproxen, ibuprofen, acetaminophen (paracetamol), and other analgesics like Excedrin (aspirin with caffeine) are often the first abortive therapies to eliminate the headache or substantially reduce pain.

Anti-emetics – Metoclopramide may also be used to control symptoms such as nausea and vomiting.

Serotonin agonists – Sumatriptan may also be prescribed for severe migraines or for migraines that are not responding to the over-the-counter medications. Antidepressants such as tricyclics – are prescribed to reduce migraine symptoms although they are not approved in all countries for this purpose.

Ergots – Another class of abortive treatments is called ergots, which are usually effective if administered at the first sign of a migraine.

Alternative Treatment

5-hydroxytryptophan – Body makes the amino acid 5-HTP and converts it into serotonin, an important brain chemical. Researchers think abnormal serotonin function in blood vessels may be related to migraines, and some of the drugs used to treat migraines work by affecting serotonin.

Magnesium – People with migraines often have lower levels of magnesium than people who do not have migraines, and several studies suggest that magnesium may reduce the frequency of migraine attacks in people with low levels of magnesium.

Vitamin B2 – A few studies indicate that riboflavin may reduce the frequency and duration of migraines. In one study, people who took riboflavin had more than a 50% decrease in the number of attacks.

Coenzyme Q10 – CoQ10 can interact with several medications including blood thinners such as warfarin (Coumadin), some cancer medications, and medications for high blood pressure.

Melatonin – Melatonin can interact with a number of medications, so ask your doctor before taking it.

Butterbur – A few studies suggest that butterbur may help reduce both the frequency and duration of migraine attacks when taken on a regular basis for up to 4 months. More research is needed to see whether butterbur is really effective at preventing migraines.

Feverfew – Feverfew has been used traditionally to treat headaches, and several well-designed studies have found that it may help prevent and treat migraines.

Acupuncture has been studied as a treatment for migraine headache for more than 20 years. While not all studies have shown it helps, researchers agree that acupuncture appears safe, and may work for some people.

Chiropractic – In another study, people with migraine headaches were randomly assigned to receive spinal manipulation, a daily medication (Elavil), or a combination of both. Spinal manipulation worked as well as Elavil in reducing migraines and had fewer side effects. Combining the 2 therapies didn’t work any better.

Reflexology is a technique that places pressure on specific “reflex points” on the hands and feet that are believed to correspond to areas throughout the body. Some early studies suggest it may relieve pain and allow people with migraines to take less pain medication.

Reference –

February 3, 2017

Leaky Gut also known as ‘Intestinal Permeability’ is a condition in which the lining of the small intestine becomes damaged, in turn causing undigested food particles, toxic waste products and bacteria to leak through the intestines and flood the bloodstream. The foreign substances entering the blood can cause an autoimmune response in the body including inflammatory and allergic reactions such as migraines, irritable bowel, eczema, chronic fatigue, food allergies, rheumatoid arthritis and more.

With a leaky gut, damaged cells in the intestine are unable to produce the enzymes needed for proper digestion. Hence, it5 becomes difficult for the body to absorb essential nutrients, causing hormonal imbalance and a weakened immune system.

In more scientific language, an increase in permeability of the intestinal mucosa to luminal macromolecules, antigens and toxins associated with inflammatory degenerative and/or atrophic mucosal damage. Once in the blood stream the immune system is the last line of defense to deal with these substances and it will eventually get overwhelmed if a Leaky Gut is not rectified.

Leaky Gut Syndrome is a very common condition in this day and age. It is the cause of much or our modern autoimmune illness: IBS, Chrons disease, allergies, asthma, food sensitivities, chemical sensitivities, arthritic conditions, chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple sclerosis, addison’s disease, lupus, fibromyalgia, thyroiditis. It is an illness that depicts our modern times.


In most cases, leaky gut is caused by the diet. Certain foods, like gluten, soy and dairy, act as foreign invaders of the gut. When these foods are consumed, the body goes into war, i.e, producing antibodies, as a result of a triggered immune response that includes diarrhea, headaches, fatigue and joint pain.

Leaky gut can also be caused by medications including antibiotics, steroids or over-the-counter pain relievers like aspirin and acetaminophen, which can irritate the intestinal lining and damage protective mucus layers. This irritation can start or continue the inflammation cycle that leads to intestinal permeability.Alcohol and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen are well-known irritants of the bowel lining.

The key and most common cause of Leaky Gut is Candida. Candida is a yeast-fungal organism that grows roots like a plant. These roots grow into and through the intestinal tract looking for food. These roots break through the intestinal lining and cause the leaky gut.

Our intestinal lining replaces itself approximately every 24 hours. This means that every cell that the lining is composed of is digested, and a new one grows to take its place. All this activity means the gut uses more blood when it is resting than any other organ but it is also the first to lose its blood supply when in a fight or flight situation, which is what stress is. If you have a lot of stress then your gut will always be starved for blood and the lining will be impaired.

Zinc is a critical piece of maintaining a strong intestinal lining. A deficiency of the vitamin can lead to the mucosal lining losing strength and becoming more permeable. There are studies that show that supplementing with Zinc when it is deficient can dramatically improve intestinal lining integrity

Certain conditions and treatments

The following conditions and treatments can also damage the seals in the bowel lining:

  • Inflammatory bowel diseases – such as Crohn’s disease
  • Infections of the intestines – such as salmonella, norovirus and giardiasis
  • Coeliac disease
  • Chemotherapy medicines
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Radiotherapy to the abdomen (tummy)
  • Immunosuppressants (medicines that weaken the immune system)
  • Tystic Fibrosis
  • Type 1 Diabetes
  • Sepsis
  • Complicated Surgery

Factors that worsen Leaky Gut –

  • Alcohol and caffeine, which irritate the gut wall, this includes cokes (diet and regular), chocolate, coffee, and cocoa.
  • Contaminated foods, E. coli and other bacteria’s can develop due to poor food handling.
  • Chemicals found in processed and fermented foods (dyes and preservatives), wine, vinegar, soy sauce, tofu, etc.
  • A diet high in refined sugars and other carbohydrates (e.g. candy, cookies, sodas, processed foods and white bread).
  • Foods contaminated by parasites (pork, chicken, fresh water and hatchery fish).
  • Antibiotic use-this causes an overgrowth of fungi (yeast) in the gut due to the immune suppression that occurs.
  • Ingestion of animal products that have been given hormonal and antibiotic treatments.
  • NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).


  • The long-term net result of the leaky gut is the likely development of autoimmune disease where the body attacks its own tissues. There are some 80 recognized autoimmune diseases. These include:
  • Lupus
  • Alopecia areata
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Polymyalgia
  • Multiple sclerosis rheumatica
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Celiac disease
  • Vitiligo syndrome
  • Thyroiditis
  • Vasculitis
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Urticaria (hives)
  • Diabetes
  • Psoriasis

Physicians are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of the GI tract in the development of autoimmune diseases. In fact, researchers now estimate that more than two-thirds of all immune activity occurs in the gut. Allergies can develop when the body produces antibodies to the undigested proteins derived from previously harmless foods. These antibodies can get into any tissue and trigger an inflammatory reaction when that food is eaten. Depending on where this inflammation occurs in the body—in the joints, brain, lungs, blood vessels or gut—a variety of chronic illnesses can develop as a result.

Other disorders that are associated with leaky gut include eczema, psoriasis, pancreatic insufficiency, candidiasis, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), multiple chemical sensitivities and even heart disease. Leaky gut can aggravate existing conditions as well, for it can give rise to such symptoms as:

  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle pain
  • Fever
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Diarrhea
  • Skin rashes
  • Memory deficit
  • Shortness of breath

Leaky gut syndrome can also cause malabsorption andthus deficiencies of many important nutrients—vitamins, minerals and amino acids—due to inflammation and thepresence of potent toxins. This malabsorption can alsocause gas, bloating and cramps, and can eventually lead to such complaints as fatigue, headaches, memory loss, poor concentration and irritability.


Medications – Band-aid treatment with corticosteroids, prescription broad-spectrum antibiotics, and immunosuppressive drugs may be prescribed for acute episodes of pain, bleeding or severe inflammation of the gut. However, there is no conventional treatment that resolves a leaky gut.

Alternative treatment

Probiotics – Probiotics are the most important supplement to take because it helps replenish good bacteria and crowds out bad bacteria. They play essential roles that not only fight off the bad bacteria, but also reduce inflammation in the gut.

Digestive Enzymes– Digestive enzymes are critical to properly breaking down the foods we eat. They are found naturally in the raw form of foods to help break them down. The plant based enzymes will break down food into very small particles before it leaves the stomach, preventing large undigested molecules from irritating the intestinal lining and increasing nutritional uptake. They also work through the intestines acting as garbage collectors by removing toxins, bacteria, and damaged cells of the mucosal lining. The whole process gives the gut a clean slate of healthy cells to rebuild with. While the leaky gut permeability remains, they do the same garbage collecting in the bloodstream if they are passed through the intestinal lining. The bromelain and papain enzymes or pancreatic animal tissues (porcine, bovine, lamb) and aloe vera juice are shown to reduce inflammation in the gut lining and throughout other tissues in the body, allowing the immune system and the liver some reprieve.

Nutritional Supplementing – The conditions that lead to leaky gut can also cause mal-absorption and improper digestion, both of which are going to leave you with nutritional deficiencies. First and foremost: supplementing with a good multi-vitamin, large amounts of vitamin D, and Zinc will help the intestinal lining return to normal

L-Glutamineis critical for any program designed to heal leaky gut. Glutamine is an essential amino acid that is anti-inflammatory and necessary for the growth and repair of your intestinal lining. L-glutamine benefits include acting as a protector: coating your cell walls and acting as a repellent to irritants.

Licorice Root (DGL)is an adaptogenic herb that helps balance cortisol levels and improves acid production in the stomach. DGL supports the body’s natural processes for maintaining the mucosal lining of the stomach and duodenum. This herb is especially beneficial if someone’s leaky gut is being caused by emotional stress.

Quercetin has also been shown to improve gut barrier function by sealing the gut because it supports creation of tight junction proteins. It also stabilizes mast cells and reduces the release of histamine, which is common in food intolerance. New studies have also shown its effectiveness in healing ulcerative colitis.

Essential fatty acids– Milledflax, flax seed oil, evening primrose oil, borage oil, olive oil, fish oil, black current seed oil; soluble fiber – pysillium seed husks and powder, apple and citrus pectin, the rice derived gamma oryzanol.

Plant Extract – Kudzu, various high chlorophyll containing green drinks like spirulina, chlorella and blue-green algae, burdock, slippery elm, Turkish rhubarb, sheep sorrel, licorice root, ginger root, goldenseal, bismuth and bentonite.

Colostrum – Colostrum has been clinically proven to heal leaky gut and increase immune response.


Reference –

February 3, 2017

Latex is a milky sap produced by rubber trees. The sap is blended with chemicals during manufacturing to give latex its elastic quality. Natural rubber latex is often found in rubber gloves, condoms, balloons, rubber bands, erasers and toys.

A latex allergy is an allergy to products made from natural rubber latex. Some of the other chemicals used in making latex products can cause serious allergies, as well. Also, latex gloves are dusted with powder to make them easier to put on and take off. When this powder combines with the latex protein, it can get into the air when the gloves are used and be inhaled. The allergy-causing particles become attached to the cornstarch powder in gloves, swimming caps and balloons. Moisture from the skin can enhance this process. The particles can become airborne and inhaled when products are used. Sensitized individuals react to these particles. Milk protein is sometimes mixed in with latex in surgical and household gloves and this can be the cause of reactions in milk allergic individuals.

This type of allergic reaction is the same type that occurs in hay fever, allergic asthma and peanut allergy. It can vary in severity from a mild nettle rash on contact, to severe anaphylaxis with respiratory symptoms and collapse. It is potentially fatal but deaths are fortunately very uncommon.

Hundreds of products may contain latex –

  • Medical devices (gloves, blood pressure cuffs, IV tubes and catheters);
  • Dental items (dams and orthodontic rubber bands);
  • Clothing (the elastic waistbands in pants and underwear);
  • Children’s items (toys, bottle nipples, pacifiers and teething toys);
  • Household items (rugs, bathmats and rubber gloves);
  • Personal care items (diaphragms and condoms);
  • Office and school supplies (rubber bands, erasers, rubber cement and paint).

Who is at Risk?

People at greatest risk include –

  • People with allergies who may have cross reactions
  • Children with spina bifida or multiple surgeries
  • Health care workers and housekeeping staff in health facilities
  • People who require frequent medical procedures, such as catheterization
  • Child care providers
  • Food service workers
  • Workers in tire factories and rubber manufacturing
  • Others who must wear latex gloves at work.

Types of Latex Allergies

There are three different kinds of adverse reactions to latex, although they do overlap to a certain degree. These include –

Irritant dermatitis – Characterized by crusty skin lesions. Irritant dermatitis isn’t the same as latex allergy, because it can be caused by a wide range of other factors, including washing with harsh soap or the action of sweat inside rubber gloves. However, irritant dermatitis is often a starting point for the development of latex allergy. Broken skin allows the absorption of latex. Without intervention, people with genetic susceptibility will progress from irritant dermatitis to latex allergy.

Allergic contact dermatitis – This skin problem is caused by a reaction to the chemicals added to latex during processing, not to the latex proteins themselves. Typically, symptoms (including rough skin patches and a weeping rash) tend to develop a few days after exposure. Once again, this is not true latex allergy. However, the absorption of latex through broken skin can increase the risk of latex allergy in susceptible people.

Immediate-type latex allergy – In genetically susceptible people, initial exposure to latex prompts the immune system to create antibodies. On subsequent exposure to latex, the body mounts an immune system response, which includes the release of histamine. This can cause a wide range of sudden reactions including hives, swollen lips and, in severe cases, anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis, or anaphylactic shock, is an emergency and can be fatal.

How are people exposed to latex?

Respiratory exposure – Cornstarch powder is sometimes added to disposable latex gloves during manufacture to make them easier to put on. Latex proteins leach into the powder and become airborne when the gloves are removed. Inhaling the powder can cause respiratory sensitisation in susceptible people.

Skin exposure – Skin exposure can occur from handling latex products and wearing latex gloves. During glove use, chemicals added during manufacture and latex proteins can leach out of the glove material causing skin sensitisation in susceptible people. Skin exposure can also occur from touching surfaces that are contaminated with powder from powdered latex gloves


Research has identified a protein substance in natural latex as a major source of the allergy. The protein can be absorbed through the skin or the powder containing the protein can be inhaled. However, chemicals such as zinc diethyldithiocarbamate (which is added to the latex) and starch powder (found in new gloves) have also caused allergic reactions in sensitive people. Actually, it is the protein in the glove material that has been absorbed by the cornstarch that causes the allergic reaction. Powder-free gloves cause fewer allergic problems.

Latex allergy is an occupational health hazard for many people including –

  • Health care workers (operating room workers, dental care workers, special procedure and general medical nurses, emergency response workers).
  • Laboratory technicians.
  • Greenhouse workers.
  • Hair salon workers.
  • Glove manufacturing workers.

Food service workers:

  • Police and/or enforcement.
  • Other workers who use latex gloves for protection.

Cross Reaction – Around half of all people with latex allergy have allergic reactions when People who have a latex allergy may be allergic to some foods, as well. This is called a cross reaction. When this happens, your body Latex responds with the same allergic symptoms that you would have if you were exposed to latex. Cross reactions differ from one person to another. Someone may have a reaction to all the foods noted to cause cross reaction while another may have no reaction at all. Likewise, if you are allergic to any of these foods, you may also be allergic to latex:

  • apples, bananas, kiwi, peaches, plums, figs, grapes, melons, papaya, passion fruit, cherries, nectarines, pears, pineapple and strawberries;
  • carrots, celery, raw potatoes, avocados and tomatoes;
  • chestnuts and hazelnuts;
  • wheat and rye


Latex allergy can be mild or severe, with symptoms such as –

  • Itchy, red, watery eyes
  • Sneezing or runny nose
  • Coughing
  • Rash or hives
  • Chest tightness
  • Shortness of breath

Some people who wear latex gloves get bumps, sores, cracks or red, raised areas on their hands. These symptoms usually appear 12 to 36 hours after contact with latex. Changing to non-latex gloves, using glove liners, and paying more attention to hand care can help relieve these symptoms.

A person who is highly allergic to latex can also have a life-threatening allergic reaction, called anaphylactic shock. Symptoms include –

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Wheezing
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Rapid or weak pulse
  • Loss of consciousness

Someone having an anaphylactic reaction needs immediate medical attention.


Allergic reactions may be treated by removal of the latex product and drug treatment according to the type of symptoms developing. If the symptoms are irritant contact dermatitis, antihistamine and/or corticosteroid medicines may be enough to treat symptoms. Severe reactions should also be treated with epinephrine, intravenous fluids, and other support by hospital or emergency personnel.

If you have a latex allergy, it is important for you to wear a MedicAlert bracelet and carry two emergency epinephrine syringes.

If you’ve had a severe allergic reaction to latex, you may need to carry injectable epinephrine with you at all times. If you go into anaphylactic shock, you may need:

  • An emergency injection of adrenaline (epinephrine)
  • A trip to the emergency room
  • Oxygen
  • Corticosteroids

Alternative Treatment         

Quercetin – A flavonoid and antioxidant found in many plants that may help reduce allergic reactions. Some people may get more benefit from the water-soluble form of quercetin, called quercetin chalcone. Quercetin may impact the way the liver metabolizes certain medications.

Vitamin C – Supports immune system function and enhances the effect of quercetin. Lower the dose if diarrhea develops.

Zinc – Zinc may help protect against gastrointestinal symptoms (stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea) that sometimes accompany anaphylaxis. Zinc can potentially interfere with some medications, including antibiotics and cisplatin (Platinol-AQ).

Alpinia galangal – One of several plants commonly called galangal and used as a spice in Thai food, Alpinia galanga is a member of the ginger family. Preliminary animal studies suggest it may have antihistamine properties. Take capsules or drink tea.

Chinese skullcap – May have antihistamine properties. Do not use Chinese skullcap if you are pregnant or nursing. Chinese skullcap can potentially interact with a variety of medications.

Licorice – Has been used traditionally to support the immune system and may have antihistamine properties. Licorice should only be used under the direction of a trained physician.

Stinging nettle – May have anti-inflammatory and antihistamine properties. Look for freeze-dried, encapsulated nettles, which are believed to retain most of the antihistamine effects of the plant.

Sweet chestnut tree – Contains quercetin and reduced skin and blood vessels reactions.

Spreading sneezeweed – Contains flavonoids and is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for its anti-inflammatory and antihistamine effects.


Reference –

February 3, 2017
February 3, 2017

Hypersomnia means “excessive sleep.” Patients with idiopathic hypersomnia sleep a reasonable amount at night (at least six hours) but have difficulty waking up and always feel tired and sleepy. In addition to excessive daytime sleepiness, people with idiopathic hypersomnia may:

  • Sleep enormous amounts every day (10 hours or more)
  • Display “sleep drunkenness,” such as extreme sleep inertia, difficulties waking up with alarm clocks and feeling groggy for long period of times.

Idiopathic hypersomnia (IH) belongs to a class of sleep disorders known as Central Disorders of Hypersomnolence. This group of sleep disorders includes narcolepsy types I and II, idiopathic hypersomnia, Kleine-Levin syndrome, insufficient sleep syndrome, and hypersomnia due to medical, hypersomnia due to medication or substance, and hypersomnia associated with a psychiatric disorder.

IH is a chronic disorder that remits in less than 1 in 6 cases, and that responds poorly to traditional treatments. It often negatively impacts upon the patient’s life to such an extent that working, socializing and even driving eventually become impossible due to an inability to sustain vigilant wakefulness.


The exact cause of idiopathic hypersomnia is unknown. Researchers suspect that a genetic link may be possible because it appears to run in families, but there is no proof of this. It seems to be a rather uncommon type of sleep disorder. The condition usually develops slowly before the age of 30. In the vast majority of cases, idiopathic hypersomnia is a lifelong condition.

Idiopathic hypersomnia causes people to sleep a long time during the night. People may sleep more than 10 hours a night. Despite such long periods of sleep, people with idiopathic hypersomnia feel very sleepy during the day. No matter how much they nap during the day, they still feel very sleepy. This condition can be very disabling, limiting a person’s ability to maintain employment, relationships, and quality of life.


The most common symptoms shared by sufferers of IH are –

  • Greater than 10 hours sleep per 24 hour period – often as much as 16+ hours per 24 hour period
  • Long, unrefreshing naps that typically last several hours
  • Awakening from sleep feeling unrefreshed, often with significant sleep inertia (commonly known as ‘sleep drunkenness’)
  • An inability to be woken from sleep – even multiple alarm clocks or physical attempts made by family/friends are largely unsuccessful.
  • Cognitive problems caused by the overwhelming desire to sleep (commonly referred to as ‘brain fog’)

As the condition progresses less common symptoms can include –

  • Anxiety and depression – often as a result of the limits this disorder imposes upon what the patient is able to do with their limited time awake
  • Raynaud’s type phenomena – freezing cold hands and feet
  • Loss of impulse control – especially in regard to food
  • Impotence

Those with IH often describe themselves as experiencing two types of sleepiness –

  • A physical exhaustion that ‘normal’ people might experience after missing several nights sleep in a row.
  • A cognitive exhaustion similar to Executive Dysfunction that can make even simple tasks like reading, conversation with friends, or watching a movie beyond their reach.



There are no medicines specifically designed to treat idiopathic hypersomnia, but medications used for narcolepsy can often help. The main medications used are stimulants, such as modafinil, dexamphetamine and methylphenidate, which help to keep people awake during the day. See treating narcolepsy for more information on these medicines. Antidepressants may be prescribed if emotional problems are interfering with the sleep.

The most common treatments prescribed are:

  • Amphetamines (such as Dextroamphetamine® or Adderall®)
  • Methylphenidate (such as Ritalin® or Concerta®)
  • Modafinil (such as Provigil® or Modavigil®)
  • Armodafinil (such as Nuvigil® or Waklert®) (Currently unavailable in Australia)
  • Sodium Oxybate (such as Xyrem®) (Currently unavailable in Australia)
  • Antidepressants

Lifestyle Changes

  • Keep a consistent sleep schedule
  • Avoid caffeine and alcoholic beverages
  • Talk to others about the condition.
  • Don’t over extend oneself.
  • Avoid operating motor vehicles or using dangerous equipment
  • Avoid working at night or social activities that delay the bedtime

Alternative Treatment

Exercise – Regular exercise not only helps people to lose weight and gain strength, it can also help treat sleep disorders naturally. Regular exercise increases feel-good chemicals such as serotonin in the brain, which can help ease feelings of anxiety and encourage restful sleep.

Nutrients that can help manage IH include calcium and magnesium, choline, chromium picolinate, coenzyme Q10, omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, vitamin C complex (including bioflavonoids) and vitamins D and E.

St John’s wort is an herbal remedy recommended for IH because of its action as a nervous system treatment. The herb might improve sleep quality and calm the nerves, which can be affected by the disorder as well as the emotional effects of living with the disease.

Ginkgo biloba nourishes the nervous system in two ways: It protects cells with its antioxidant effects and it improves circulation to the brain. Both of these functions might improve the condition of IH. The active constituents in ginkgo leaves are flavonoids and terpenoids. Balch recommends not taking the herb if you have a bleeding disorder or upcoming surgical procedure.

Gotu kola is an ayurvedic herb native to subtropical climates and has long been used in India as a treatment for the support of veins. It works by strengthening connective tissues. When veins are strong, blood flow is improved and the brain receives more oxygen and nutrients, which might be an effective treatment for narcolepsy, according to Balch.

Country mallow is an ayurvedic herb that stimulates the body and might help those suffering from IH stay awake. Be careful using this herb if you have a cardiovascular disorder, as it causes a rise in blood pressure.

Reference –

February 3, 2017

Headaches are one of the most common neurological problems presented to GPs and neurologists. They are painful and debilitating for individuals, an important cause of absence from work or school and a substantial burden on society.

A headache is pain or discomfort in the head, scalp, or neck. Serious causes of headaches are rare. Most people with headaches can feel much better by making lifestyle changes, learning ways to relax, and sometimes by taking medicines.

Anyone can experience a headache. Nearly 2 out of 3 children will have a headache by age 15. More than 9 in 10 adults will experience a headache sometime in their life. Headache is our most common form of pain and a major reason cited for days missed at work or school as well as visits to the doctor. Without proper treatment, headaches can be severe and interfere with daily activities. Certain types of headache run in families. Episodes of headache may ease or even disappear for a time and recur later in life. It’s possible to have more than one type of headache at the same time.

Symptoms & Types

There are two types of headaches –

Primary headaches – This occur independently and are not caused by another medical condition. It’s uncertain what sets the process of a primary headache in motion. A cascade of events that affect blood vessels and nerves inside and outside the head causes pain signals to be sent to the brain. Brain chemicals called neurotransmitters are involved in creating head pain, as are changes in nerve cell activity (called cortical spreading depression). Migraine, cluster, and tension-type headache are the more familiar types of primary headache.

  • Tension headaches – These are caused by muscle tension in the shoulders, neck, and head. The tension may  come from fatigue, an uncomfortable body position, or emotional stress. Tension headaches typically begin in the  morning or early afternoon and can get worse during the day. They often involve a tight pressure feeling like a band  around the forehead, but pain may spread over the entire head and downward into the neck and shoulders.
  • Cluster headaches – These types of headaches can be very painful. The intensely sharp pain usually involves one side of the head and spreads around the eye. Cluster headaches start suddenly and generally last about an hour. Attacks come in groups hence the name “cluster” occurring several times a day or each week and continuing for 6 to  8 weeks.
  • Migraine headaches – Often marked by intense throbbing head pain… blurred vision with shimmering light specks, dizziness or nausea, sensitivity to light, sound, or odors. Migraines are certainly a different type of headache.

Secondary headaches – These are symptoms of another health disorder that causes pain-sensitive nerve endings to be pressed on or pulled or pushed out of place. They may result from underlying conditions including fever, infection, medication overuse, stress or emotional conflict, high blood pressure, psychiatric disorders, head injury or trauma, stroke, tumors, and nerve disorders (particularly trigeminal neuralgia, a chronic pain condition that typically affects a major nerve on one side of the jaw or cheek).

  • Headaches related to high blood pressure – As the blood vessels and circulatory system throughout the body  are affected by high blood pressure, headaches may result. The pain is typified by a throbbing sensation throughout the  head, though the headaches are generally not chronic in nature.
  • Headaches resulting from eye or sinus problems – Sinus congestion or built­up pressure in the eyes due to  glaucoma are examples of the types of physical problems that can occur with your eyes, ears, nose and/or throat that result  in headaches. These headaches will often disappear when the underlying condition is effectively treated.
  • Headaches associated with facial disorders – One such disorder (originally known as temporomandibular joint or TMJ syndrome), now known as myofascial pain dysfunction (MPD), is characterized by a dull aching pain in and  around the ear that is associated with chewing food. The pain may radiate to the side of the scalp causing a headache. Difficulty opening the mouth or a clicking/popping sound in the jaw joint may also be present. Once symptoms are recognized, treatment can be effective.


Anything that stimulates the pain receptors in a person’s head or neck can cause a headache, including –

  • Stress
  • Muscular tension
  • Dental or jaw problems
  • Infections
  • Diet
  • Eye problems
  • Hormonal influences
  • Medications
  • Disorders of the ear nose or throat
  • Disorders of the nervous system
  • Injury to the head, neck or spine
  • High blood pressure
  • Poor posture – puts unnecessary strain on the muscles of the back and neck
  • Hangover from abuse of alcohol or drugs
  • Temperature – extremes of heat or cold
  • Dehydration – affects blood pressure
  • Noise – especially loud noises
  • Temporal arteritis – inflammation of the artery at the temple, most common in elderly people
  • Arthritis

In rare cases, a headache can be a sign of something more serious, such as:

  • Bleeding in the area between the brain and the thin tissue that covers the brain (subarachnoid hemorrhage)
  • Blood pressure that is very high
  • Brain infection, such as meningitis or encephalitis, or abscess
  • Brain tumor
  • Buildup of fluid inside the skull that leads to brain swelling (hydrocephalus)
  • Buildup of pressure inside the skull that appears to be, but is not a tumor (pseudomotor cerebri)
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Lack of oxygen during sleep (sleep apnea)
  • Problems with the blood vessels and bleeding in the brain, such as arteriovenous malformation (AVM), brain aneurysm, or stroke


Pain reliever — A pain reliever may be recommended first for the treatment of tension type headache. These drugs include –

  • Aspirin
  • Acetaminophen (eg, Tylenol®)
  • Nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (eg, Motrin or Advil), indomethacin, or naproxen (eg, Naprosyn or Aleve).

Pain medicine combinations — Mild pain relievers are also available in combination with caffeine, which enhances the drug’s effect. As an example, Excedrin® contains a combination of acetaminophen-aspirin-caffeine. This combination may be recommended if a pain reliever alone does not relieve the headache. However, this combination is not recommended more than nine days per month due to the potential risk of developing medication-overuse headaches.

Antidepressants — Antidepressant medicines called tricyclics (TCAs) are often used to help prevent frequent tension headaches. Examples of TCAs include amitriptyline (used most commonly), nortriptyline, and protriptyline.

The dose of TCAs used for people with headaches is typically much lower than that used for treating depression. It is believed that these drugs reduce pain perception when used in low doses, although it is not exactly clear how the medicines work.

Other treatments — Tricyclic antidepressants are sometimes used in combination with behavioral therapy to prevent tension-type headaches. The goal of behavioral therapy is to identify and try to avoid behaviors that can trigger a headache. (See ‘Lifestyle changes’ below.)

Alternative treatment

Magnesium – Magnesium plays a vital role in multiple physiologic processes and therefore it is a vital component in a healthy diet. It is absorbed through the gastrointestinal tract (gut), with more absorbed when the internal content is lower. Magnesium also appears to facilitate calcium absorption.

Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) – Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) is a species in the chrysanthemum family, whose dried leaves have long been used as a headache remedy.

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) – Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is often described as a vitamin, or a vitamin-like substance. CoQ10 is involved in the creation of the important substance in the body known as adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP serves as the cell’s major energy source and drives a number of biological processes including muscle contraction and the production of protein. CoQ10 also works as an antioxidant.

Riboflavin – Riboflavin, also known as vitamin B2, is found in small amounts in many foods. It is needed for converting food to energy, and like CoQ10 also works as an antioxidant by mopping up the damaging free radicals.

Butterbur (Petasites hybridus) – Butterbur is a perennial shrub, found throughout Europe as well as parts of Asia and North America. It is usually found in wet, marshy ground, in damp forests, and adjacent to rivers or streams. The common name is attributed to the large leaves being used to wrap butter during warm weather.

Melatonin – There are many reasons melatonin should be beneficial in headache, but no proof exists presently. It has been shown to be useful for insomnia.

Vitamin D3 – Vitamin D deficiency/insufficiency is common and harmful.

Acupuncture – This ancient technique uses hair-thin needles inserted into several areas of the skin at defined points. While the results are mixed, some studies have shown that acupuncture helps reduce the frequency and intensity of chronic headaches.

Biofeedback – Patients might be able to control headaches by becoming more aware of and then changing certain bodily responses, such as muscle tension, heart rate and skin temperature.

Massage – Massage can reduce stress, relieve pain and promote relaxation. Although its value as a headache treatment hasn’t been determined, massage may be particularly helpful if someone has tight muscles in the back of the head, neck and shoulders.


Reference –

February 3, 2017

Granuloma annulare is a common skin condition characterized by bumps appearing over the joints and the backs of the hands. Its cause is not known, and most episodes of granuloma annulare clear up after a few years, with or without treatment.

Granuloma annulare (GA) is a relatively common inflammatory skin condition, which can manifest with cutaneous eruptions in a handful of patterns. GA tends to occur in the third to fifth decades of life.

Localized ranuloma annulare most often affects children and young adults. It is slightly more common in girls. The condition is usually seen in otherwise healthy people. Occasionally, it may be associated with diabetes or thyroid disease. Generalized granuloma annulare occurs more commonly in older patients.


The cause is unknown, but granuloma annulare does not damage the general health, and is not infectious or due to allergies. Some types of granuloma annulare have been linked with diabetes, but this is very uncommon in the ordinary type.

There are a number of conditions that are associated with it. The following is a list:

  • Autoimmune disease
  • Cancer
  • Chemotherapy drugs that interfere with the immune system
  • Diabetes
  • Drug reaction – Studies indicates amlodipine as a cause. Amlodipine is used alone or in combination with other medications to treat high blood pressure and chest pain (angina). It is in a class of medications called calcium channel blockers. Allopurinol is another medicine that can rarely cause granuloma annulare. There may be other drugs that induce this skin condition that we may not be aware of yet and possible ones to look into in the future include Zocor, Fosamax, levoxyl and topiramate.
  • Giardia infection
  • Hepatitis B and C infection
  • Herpes Zoster
  • Immunosuppression
  • Leukemia and Lymphoma
  • Thyroid disease including autoimmune thyroiditis
  • Vaccination with tetanus, BCG,
  • Granuloma annulare skin lesions have developed in patients during anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF) therapy.
  • SSRI antidepressants may be a rare cause


Granuloma annulare usually causes no other symptoms, but the rash may be slightly itchy.

Patients usually notice a ring of small, firm bumps (papules) over the backs of the forearms, hands, or feet. Occasionally, they may find a number of rings. Granuloma annulare occurs most frequently over the joints or in areas that experience mild injury. The most common locations for granuloma annulare include –

  • Backs of the hands and tops of the fingers
  • Tops of the feet
  • Around the elbows
  • Around the knees

The lesions of granuloma annulare are usually found in the same areas on both sides of the body (symmetrically).

Rarely, granuloma annulare may appear as a firm nodule under the skin of the arms or legs. In some cases, the rash may spread all over the body. Patients over the age of 40 may often experience more intense itching with widespread granuloma annulare.

The signs and symptoms of granuloma annulare can vary, depending on the variety –

  • Localized – This is the most common type of granuloma annulare. The lesion borders have a circular or semicircular shape, with a diameter up to 2 inches (5 centimeters). It occurs most commonly on the hands, feet, wrists and ankles of young adults, particularly women.
  • Generalized – Up to 15 percent of the people who have granuloma annulare have lesions over a large portion of their bodies — including the trunk, arms and legs. This variety is more likely to be itchy and most often affects adults.
  • Subcutaneous – Occurring predominantly in young children, this type of granuloma annulare produces a firm lump under the skin instead of a rash. The lump is usually less than 1.5 inches (3.8 centimeters) in diameter.


  • Corticosteroid creams or ointments – Prescription-strength products may help improve the appearance of the lesions and speed their disappearance.
  • Corticosteroid injections – If the skin lesions are thicker and the symptoms are greater, the doctor may inject corticosteroids directly into the lesions to help them disappear faster.
  • Freezing the lesions – Applying liquid nitrogen to the affected area can help remove the lesions and stimulate the growth of new skin.
  • Light therapy – Exposing the lesions to particular types of light is sometimes helpful. Certain types of laser treatments also work for some people.
  • Oral medications – In severe cases, especially when the lesions are widespread, your doctor might prescribe drugs used to prevent immune system reactions in people who have rheumatoid arthritis or who have received an organ transplant.

Alternative Treatment

Reference –

1 February 3, 2017

We eat to survive, and most of us enjoy eating. However, recent studies have found that almost 1 in 20 children and almost 1 in 25 adults are allergic to at least one food. Food allergies can range from being merely irritating to life threatening. As a result, it is a must for each and every person to become aware about food allergy.

What is Food Allergy?

Food Allergy is an abnormal response to a particular food, triggered by the body’s immune system. The immune system is responsible for identifying and destroying the invaders like bacteria and viruses of our body that can make us sick. A food allergy results when the immune system mistakenly targets a harmless food protein i.e. allergen as a threat and attacks it. Food allergy involves two aspects of the human immune response. One is the production of immunoglobulin E (IgE) – a type of a protein called antibody that circulates in the blood and the other is the mast cell – a type of cell that occurs in all body tissues but is specifically common in the areas of the body that are typical areas of allergic reactions like nose, lungs, throat, skin and gastrointestinal tract.

The binding of IgE to particular molecular present in a food triggers the immune response. The response may be mild, but at times it can cause severe life threatening reaction called anaphylaxis (explained further).

Allergic reaction occurs when the person who is predisposed to form IgE to certain foods, is exposed to that food. It is a process which includes two steps:

Step 1– The first time an individual is exposed to a food allergen; the immune system considers the food to be harmful and reacts accordingly by producing particular IgE antibodies to that allergen. These antibodies are circulated through the blood stream and gets attached to mast cells and basophils (basophils are found in the blood and also in the tissues that have become inflamed due t allergens)

Step 2– The next time that individual is exposed to the same food allergen; it binds to the IgE antibodies that are attached to the mast cells and basophils. This signals the cells to release massive amounts of chemicals such as Histamine – an organic nitrogenous compound that plays a key role in many allergic reactions, dilating blood vessels and making the vessel walls abnormally permeable. Depending on the tissue in which they are released, histamine will cause you to have various symptoms of food allergy.

Sometimes, a reaction to food is not a food allergy at all but another type of reaction called food intolerance. It is important to know the difference between these two. Some of the symptoms of food allergy and food intolerance are similar, but the differences between the two are very important. Food allergy reactions can be life threatening, so people with this type of allergy should be careful to avoid their food triggers.

Being allergic to food also results in being allergic to a similar protein found in something else. For instance, if an individual is allergic to birch tree pollen, a primary airborne allergen responsible for symptoms in the springtime, the reactions may get triggered by peach, apple, pear, kiwi, plum, coriander, fennel, parsley, celery, cherry and carrot. This type of food allergy is known as cross- reactivity. Cross reactivity occurs when the immune system thinks one protein is closely related to another.

Studies have suggested that eight kinds of food cause 90 percent of food allergies.

  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Wheat
  • Fish
  • Soy
  • Nuts


An allergic reaction of food affects the skin, the respiratory tract, the gastrointestinal tract and in rare or severe cases, it may also affect the cardiovascular system. Its symptoms typically appear within minutes to several hours of eating the allergic food. It is very important to understand, that children may describe these symptoms in a different way.

Mild symptoms may include the following:

  • Tingling or itching in the mouth
  • Hives (reddish, swollen, itchy areas on the skin)
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Eczema (a persistent dry, itchy rash)
  • Diarrhea
  • Nasal congestion or a runny nose
  • Redness of the skin and around the eyes
  • Slight dry cough
  • Sneezing
  • Stomach pain
  • Uterine contraction
  • Itchy ear

Severe symptoms may include the following:

  • Trouble swallowing
  • Turning blue
  • Chest pain
  • Drop in blood pressure
  • Wheezing or shortness of breath
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Sense of ‘impending down’
  • Obstructive swelling of lips, tongue and throat

Severe symptoms alone or in combination with milder symptoms, may be signs of severe or serious allergic reactions.

  • Anaphylaxis

Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency. It includes a wide range of symptoms that occurs in many combinations. These symptoms are not life threatening, but the most severe restrict breathing and blood circulation. Many different body parts are affected like –

  • Skin – Itching, redness, swelling
  • Nose – sneezing, stuffy nose, runny nose
  • Throat – Itching, tightness, difficulty in swallowing, hoarseness
  • Mouth – Itching, swelling of lips or tongue
  • Heart – Weak pulse, passing out, shock
  • Nervous System – Dizziness or fainting
  • Chest – Shortness of breath, cough, wheeze, chest pain , tightness

Symptoms may begin within several minutes to several hours after exposure to the food. Anaphylaxis caused by an allergic reaction to a certain food is highly unpredictable. The severity of a given attack does not predict the severity of subsequent attacks. The response will vary depending on several factors, such as:

  • Sensitivity to the food
  • How much of the food an individual is exposed to
  • How the food is entered into the body

Any anaphylaxis reaction may result in becoming dangerous and should be evaluated as soon as possible. Food allergy is the leading cause of anaphylaxis. However, medications, insect stings, and latex can also cause an allergic reaction that leads to anaphylaxis.

  • Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EoE)

Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) is a recently recognized chronic disease that can be associated with food allergies. It is increasingly being diagnosed in children and adults. Symptoms of EoE include nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain after eating. A person may also have symptoms that resemble acid reflux from the stomach. In older children and adults, it can cause more severe symptoms, such as difficulty swallowing solid food or solid food sticking in the esophagus for more than a few minutes. In infants, this disease may be associated with failure to thrive. If you are diagnosed with EoE, you will probably be tested for allergies. In some situations, avoiding certain food allergens will be an effective treatment for EoE.


Types of Food Allergies

There are two categories of food allergies namely:

  • Immunoglobulin E (IgE) mediated– Symptoms result from the body’s immune system making antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies. These IgE antibodies react with a certain food.
  • Non-IgE mediated– Other parts of the body’s immune system react to a certain food. This reaction causes symptoms, but does not involve an IgE antibody. Someone can have both IgE mediated and non-IgE mediated food allergies


  • Cross Reactivity or Oral Allergy Syndrome

Some people who have allergies to pollens, such as ragweed and grasses, may also be allergic to some foods. Proteins in the pollens are like the proteins in some fruits and vegetables. So, if your child is allergic to ragweed, he or she may have an allergic reaction to melons and bananas. That’s because the protein in ragweed looks like the proteins in melons and bananas. This condition is oral allergy syndrome.

Symptoms of an oral allergy syndrome include an itchy mouth, throat or tongue. Symptoms can be more severe and may include hives, shortness of breath and vomiting. Reactions usually occur only when someone eats raw food. In rare cases, reactions can be life-threatening and need epinephrine.


  • Cross Reactivity or Oral Allergy Syndrome

Some people who have allergies to pollens, such as ragweed and grasses, may also be allergic to some foods. Proteins in the pollens are like the proteins in some fruits and vegetables. So, if your child is allergic to ragweed, he or she may have an allergic reaction to melons and bananas. That’s because the protein in ragweed looks like the proteins in melons and bananas. This condition is oral allergy syndrome. Symptoms of an oral allergy syndrome include an itchy mouth, throat or tongue. Symptoms can be more severe and may include hives, shortness of breath and vomiting. Reactions usually occur only when someone eats raw food. In rare cases, reactions can be life-threatening and need epinephrine.


  • Allergic Proctocolitis

Allergic proctocolitis is an allergy to formula or breast milk. This condition inflames the lower part of the intestine. It affects infants in their first year of life and usually ends by age 1 year.

The symptoms include blood-streaked, watery and mucus-filled stools. Infants may also develop green stools, diarrhea, vomiting, anemia (low blood count) and fussiness. When properly diagnosed, symptoms resolve once the offending food(s) are removed from the diet.


  • Mixed reaction

Some children may have a mixed reaction where they experience both “IgE” symptoms, such as swelling, and “non-IgE” symptoms, such as constipation.

This often happens to children who have a milk allergy.


  • Exercise-induced food allergy

Sometimes a food allergy can be triggered after eating a certain food and then exercising vigorously. This can lead to anaphylaxis in severe cases, at times known as food-dependent exercise-induced anaphylaxis.


Food and its allergies


  • Casein

If a glass of milk causes significant symptoms like swollen lips, hives etc, you may have an allergy to casein – a protein in milk. Most dairy products contain casein, but not all. Since casein is a protein, it is found in dairy products that have higher protein content, such as milk, yogurt, kefir, cheese and ice cream. Dairy products that contain barely any protein, such as butter and cream, only have traces of casein. Casein is in a family of phosphoproteins that make up 80% of the proteins in cow’s milk. In fact, casein is found in all mammalian milk in varying quantities, including human milk, where it constitutes 25-45% of proteins. It is a complete protein that supplies all the essential amino acids – those that can’t be synthesized naturally by the body. It is also associated to gluten.


Symptoms of Casein Allergy:


  • Swelling of the lips, mouth, tongue, face, or throat
  • Skin reactions such as hives, a rash, or red, itchy skin
  • Nasal congestion, sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, coughing, or wheezing
  • Anaphylaxis (in rare cases)
  • Wheat Allergy

Wheat is the major component of our daily diet. It is more common amongst children and is usually outgrown before reaching adulthood. Symptoms of wheat allergy reaction can range from mild, such as hives, to severe, such as anaphylaxis.

An allergic reaction to wheat involves IgE (immunoglobulin) antibodies to at least one of the following proteins found in wheat:

  • Albumin
  • Globulin
  • Gliadin
  • Glutenin (gluten).

The most common allergic reactions involve albumin and globulin. Allergy to gliadin and gluten are less common. Gluten allergy is often confused with Celiac disease.

The most common symptoms of wheat allergy are:

  • Mouth irritation and possible swelling
  • Nausea
  • Throat irritation and possible swelling
  • Urticaria – hives, an itchy rash (possible swelling of the skin)
  • Vomiting
  • Watery and/or itchy eyes
  • Bloated stomach
  • Allergic rhinitis– nasal congestion
  • Anaphylaxis
  • Asthma
  • Atopic dermatitis (eczema)
  • Diarrhea


  • Gluten Allergy


A gluten allergy – not to be confused with gluten sensitivity or celiac disuse, is caused by an allergic reaction to a gluten protein. It is caused by gliadin, a glycoprotein that along with glutenin – a wheat protein, forms gluten. It is found in wheat and other related grains such as barley, oats, and rye. Gliadin is also one of the major allergens associated with wheat allergies and a trigger for celiac disease, a serious autoimmune disorder of the small intestine.



  • Troubled breathing
  • Ulcers in the mouth
  • Asthma
  • Depression
  • Weight Loss
  • Rash
  • Swollen lips
  • Anaphylaxis (in rare cases)


  • Soy Allergy

Soy allergy is a common food allergy especially among children. Allergic reactions to soy are typically mild; however, although rare, severe reactions can occur. Soybeans are a member of the legume family, which include plant species that bear seed pods that split upon ripening. Some examples of other legumes include beans, peas, lentils and peanut. People with a soy allergy are not necessarily allergic to other legumes.

Fish Allergy

Salmon, tuna and halibut are the most common kinds of finned fish to which people are allergic. More than half of all people who are allergic to one type of fish also are allergic to other fish, so allergists often advise their fish-allergic patients to avoid all fish.

A fish allergy can cause a very serious reaction, even if a previous reaction was mild. A child who has a fish allergy must completely avoid eating fish. Sometimes an allergist can test for allergies to specific types of fish, but until the culprits are known, it’s best for someone with a fish allergy to avoid all fish.

The pattern of symptoms following ingestion of fish and seafood is similar to that reported for other foods, including, nausea, sickness, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, wheezing, rhinitis, flushing, urticarial rashes and dramatic swelling.

Finned fish and shellfish do not come from related families of foods, so being allergic to one does not necessarily mean that you must avoid both.


  • Egg Allergy

Eggs are everywhere, not only are they served for breakfast, but they’re also in all sorts of foods — from muffins to meatloaf. But the question is what if you were allergic to eggs?

Egg allergy develops when the body’s immune system becomes sensitized and overreacts to the proteins available in the egg white and yolks. It is estimated that about 2 percent of children are allergic to eggs, although about 70 percent of these children may outgrow the condition by age 16.

Children who are allergic to eggs can have reactions ranging from a mild rash to anaphylaxis, a life-threatening condition that impairs breathing and can send the body into shock.


  • Tree nuts Allergy

Tree nut allergy is the second most common allergy in infants and young children. Approximately 0.4- 0.5% of American children have a tree nut allergy. Tree nuts are a common allergen reported to cause fatal and near-fatal allergic reactions. Tree nuts can cause a severe, potentially fatal allergic reaction. Tree nuts include, but are not limited to, walnut, almond, hazelnut, cashew, pistachio, and Brazil nuts. These are not to be confused or grouped together with peanut, which is a legume, or seeds, such as sunflower or sesame.


  • Peanuts Allergy

Peanut allergy is one of the most common food allergies. Peanuts can cause a severe, potentially fatal, allergic reaction (anaphylaxis). Allergy to peanuts appears to be on the rise in children. According to a certain study, the number of children in the U.S. with peanut allergy more than tripled between 1997 and 2008.

Peanut allergies tend to be life long, although studies indicate that approximately 20 percent of children with peanut allergy do eventually outgrow their allergy. Younger siblings of children allergic to peanuts may be at increased risk for allergy to peanuts.


  • Other Allergies


While the above allergies account 90 percent of all food allergic reactions, a person can be allergic to any food.

The list below is of foods of which allergic reactions have been reported too:

  • Corn
  • Gelatin
  • Meat (beef, chicken, mutton, and pork)
  • Seeds (sesame, sunflower, and poppy being the most common)
  • Spices (caraway, coriander, garlic, mustard, etc.)


The first step to diagnose a food allergy is by the study of a thorough medical history of the patient. Later, the allergist may conduct the following tests:

  • Skin Prick Test

Food allergy symptoms are caused by the interaction between a food allergen and IgE. The Skin Prick test is one of the tests to diagnose it.

During the test, a drop of solution containing the allergen is placed on the forearm. When the test is of fruits and vegetables, fresh food is used instead of the solution. A small plastic probe or needle is used to prick or scratch the skin and a tiny amount of solution is allowed to enter just below the surface. This type of test is not painful and there is no bleeding. The test results usually appear in 30 minutes.


  • Blood Test

Blood test is used to measure the presence of IgE antibodies to specific foods. With the skin test, the results are immediate, but with the blood tests, the results may take several days to arrive. Unlike the skin prick test, the blood test is not affected by antihistamines and can be performed for people with extensive rashes that prevent using skin tests.


  • Oral Food Challenge

At times, even after performing skin prick and blood tests, an allergist is unable to arrive at a definitive diagnosis. In this case, you may be asked to undergo an oral food challenge (OFC), a highly accurate diagnostic test for food allergy. OFC has the potential to cause serious reaction; hence, it is performed by experienced allergists.

During this test, the patients are given the suspect food in measured doses, starting with small amount that may not trigger any symptom. Following each dose, the patient is observed for any signs of a reaction. If there is no symptom, the patient will be given increasingly larger doses.

OFC includes the following:

  • Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Food Challenge (DBPCFC) – For example, if a patient is being tested for milk allergy, he/she may eat a piece of hamburger that contains milk powder, or a look-alike that has no milk in it. This process ensures that the test results are objective. Neither the patient’s anxiety nor the allergist’s preconceptions can influence the outcome.
  • Single-Blind Food Challenge – In this test, the allergist knows if the patient is receiving the allergen, but the patient don’t.
  • Open Food Challenge – Both the doctor and the patient know whether and not the patient is receiving an allergen. This type of challenge is most often done when a patient’s nervousness is unlikely to affect the results.


  • Food Elimination Diet

The elimination diet generally lasts two to four weeks. During this period, the patient will avoid the suspect foods while the doctor monitors the symptoms. If one or more of these foods is causing an allergy, the symptoms should disappear by the end of this period. In some cases, the doctor may add another step, gradually reintroducing a problem food to the diet. If the symptoms return, it is likely that the patient is allergic to that food.


Food allergies are often treated from several directions at the same time, such as eliminating allergens, strengthening the patient nutritionally, and modifying the patient’s immune response. The most important part of your treatment YOU will do, not your doctor. Food allergy is a very individual problem, and you know your body better than anyone else does. It may be difficult to take action because of your health, but if you want to get well, YOU must take responsibility for yourself.

  • Medication – The choice of medication depends upon the severity of the reaction. These medications are for controlling the allergy and not for curing it.
    • Antihistamines

Antihistamines are one of the best known allergy medications, and most of them are easily available at a pharmacy without prescription. They work well to relieve symptoms of different types of allergies.

Antihistamines are of different types, including tablets, capsules, liquids, nasal sprays and eye drops. Below are some of the antihistamines available:

  • Astelin, Astepro (azelastine) nasal sprays
  • Atarax, Vistaril (hydroxyzine)
  • Clarinex (desloratadine)
  • Cyproheptadine (generic only)
  • Emadine (emadastine) eye drops
  • Livostin (levocabastine) eye drops
  • Optivar (azelastine) eye drops
  • Palgic (carbinoxamine)
  • Xyzal (levocetirizine)
  • Mast Cell Stabilizers

Mast cell stabilizers are used to block the release of immune system chemicals that contribute to the allergic reactions. These drugs are safe, but usually need to be used for several days to reach full effect.

  • Cromolyn (Nasal spray and eye drop)
  • Lodoxamide
  • Pemirolast
  • Nedocromil
  • Decongestants

Decongestants are used for quick, temporary relief of nasal and sinus congestion. They can cause insomnia, headache, increased blood pressure and irritability. They are not recommended for women who are pregnant or for people with high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, glaucoma or hyperthyroidism.

For example: pseudoephedrine- Sudafed, Afrinol, others, Cetirizine (Zyrtec-D), Desloratadine (Clarinex-D), Fexofenadine (Allegra-D), Loratadine


  • Corticosteroids

The steroids used for the treatment of allergies are corticosteroids, and are almost identical to the natural hormone, cortisol, which is produced by the body’s adrenal glands. But with any medication, it is important to follow the dosage, as prescribed by a health practitioner, as over-use of any medication can be harmful.

For example:

  • Budesonide (Rhinocort Aqua)
  • Fluticasone furoate (Veramyst)
  • Fluticasone propionate (Flonase)
  • Mometasone (Nasonex)
  • Triamcinolone (Nasacort Allergy 24 Hour)
  • Adreneline

The use of adrenaline (epinephrine) as an emergency allergy treatment is well understood by doctors, and it has saved many lives. It is used to treat anaphylactic shock, where the sudden, high levels of histamine and other substances released during an allergic reaction cause the patient to have difficulty breathing, and can also cause loss of consciousness. Research has shown that the sooner adrenaline is given once an anaphylactic reaction has started, the better the health outcome for the patient. This makes rapid treatment of anaphylaxis possible, rather than having to wait for ambulances carrying the medication to arrive.


  • Antibiotics

The symptoms of some allergic conditions can increase the likelihood of localized infections. In particular, irritated skin caused by eczema can be vulnerable to infection, as can the nasal sinuses of people who suffer from hay fever or perennial rhinitis. For this reason it is important that infections are diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.


  • Anti-leukotrienes

Leukotrienes are chemicals released by the immune system that cause swelling and secretion, and can cause allergy symptoms to persist. Anti-leukotrienes reduce inflammation and mucus production and work in a similar way to steroids, but with fewer side effects.

  • Anti-IgE drugs

The IgE antibodies are the most common cause of the immune system reacting to an allergen and initiating an allergic response. New anti-IgE drugs are being developed, which aim to take the IgE antibodies out of circulation. A number of studies have been conducted using anti-IgE drugs as an add-on treatment for people with severe allergic asthma. They showed that the anti-IgE medication could allow some people to reduce, and even stop, their inhaled steroid treatments.


  • Calcineurin inhibitors

Calcineurin inhibitors are a new treatment, currently available as two creams – Tacrolimus and Pimecrolimus (also known as Protopic and Elidel) – for use on children over the age of two. They work by reducing the sensitivity of the immune system when the skin comes into contact with an allergen.


Alternative Treatments

Allergens are often associated with weak adrenal, immune and digestive functions. Alternative treatments help to support and improve these functions and also help in alleviating the symptoms. Following are some:


  • Nutritional Treatment


Alterations and changes in the nutritional intake help in reducing the allergic symptoms. The diet should contain, a moderately low-fat, high complex carbohydrates. Drinking ½ of body weight in ounces of water daily is must.

Following should be included:

  • Dark green leafy vegetables
  • Nettles, bamboo shoots, cabbage, beet tops, beets, carrots, yams
  • Onions, garlic, ginger, cayenne, horseradish
  • Deep yellow and orange vegetables


Following should be eliminated

  • Foods causing allergies
  • Citrus fruit
  • Alcohol, caffeine and dairy products
  • Food coloring (tartrazine)
  • Sugar
  • Wheat


  • Supplements, Vitamins and Minerals


  • Flaxseed oil
  • Probiotics (e.g., lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidus) -. Probiotics are bowel microflora organisms—microscopic bacteria that normally inhabit the intestines.
  • Multivitamin
  • Bioflavonoids (e.g., quercetin, catechin, hesperidin) – When symptoms are severe, take up to 6 grams. Bioflavonoids are natural antihistamines and strongly anti-allergenic. Bromelain and vitamin C can enhance the action of bioflavonoids.
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C – Bioflavonoids are natural antihistamines and strongly anti-allergenic. Bromelain and vitamin C can enhance the action of bioflavonoids.
  • Vitamin E
  • Zinc


  • Herbal Medicine


Many plants have therapeutic properties and one only has to remember that digoxin comes from the Foxglove, salicin from the bark of the Willow tree and opiates from the glorious Poppy. Herbal remedies such as the Ma Huang plant (Ephedra sinica) which contains ephedrine has been used to treat asthma for 5000 years but there is very little evidence that herbal medicines in general confer any major benefit. In some cases they may even be hepatotoxic. One recently noted exception is the use of traditional Chinese herbal tea in the treatment of atopic eczema. Ling zhi (Reishi Mushroom) is another eastern herbal preparation with steroid like properties used to treat allergies. Butterbur has been advocated in hay fever.


  • Homeopathy
    • Allium cepa – for bland, non-irritating discharge from eyes; copious, watery, acrid discharge from nose; hoarseness; and feeling better in cool air and open room.
    • Euphrasia – for symptoms such as copious, watery, acrid discharge from eyes; non-irritating discharge from nose; dry, hard cough; much sneezing; diarrhea; and feeling worse in open air.
    • Natrum muriaticum – for watery or egg white-like discharges; cold sores; no sense of taste or smell; headaches; and feeling better outside.
    • Nux vomica – for runny nose in daytime, then dry nose at night; violent sneezing; nose feels blocked but there is watery nasal discharge through one nostril; and feeling worse outside.
    • Wyethia – for extreme itching in the nose and throat; throat feels swollen; back of throat is dry and burning; and sensation as if something were in nasal passages.


  • Acupuncture

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese form of treatment that involves inserting tiny needles into specific meridians or areas of the body. It has been found to be particularly useful for pain relief and the practice has grown remarkably in recent years. Claims that the use of acupuncture is useful in treating allergies in general are not based on well-performed clinical trials.



This article has successfully proved that ‘allergy’ is more than just a runny nose; it can be the reason for lot of problems and symptoms. At our center we have successfully identified the cause of chronic disease and disorders through comprehensive diagnostic evaluation, utilizing allergy and sensitivity testing as needed. We believe in helping the patients return home in good health….



Food Allergy

Living with the Allergies:

Diseases and Conditions: ]

Common Food Allergies:

Is Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity a Real Thing?\

All Food Allergies:

February 3, 2017

Eosinophilic esophagitis or “EE,” and also known as “EoE”, is an allergic reaction that causes inflammation and damage to the esophagus, the muscular tube that connects mouth to stomach. EoE is characterized by inflammation and accumulation of a specific type of immune cell, called an eosinophil, in the esophagus.

Eosinophils are a special type of white blood cell. Eosinophils help us fight off certain types of infections, such as parasites or hookworms. However, eosinophils also are involved in other conditions, including allergies, cancer and other problems. The eosinophil is a cell that serves many roles. Some roles are specific and some not specific, which means that there are a number of different processes in the body that can cause eosinophils to be present. An eosinophilic disorder may be present when eosinophils are found in high numbers in the blood or part of the body for a long period of time without a known cause. Generally, this means more than 6 months.

Eosinophilic disorders can occur in different areas of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. For instance, eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) means abnormal numbers of eosinophils in the esophagus. Eosinophils are not normally present in the esophagus. Eosinophils are normally found in small numbers in other areas of the GI tract.

The exact prevalence in adults is uncertain, but it is estimated to affect 1 per 10,000 children and approximately 1 per cent of adults in the US.


Eosinophilic esophagitis is caused by the presence of a large number of eosinophils in the esophagus. The production and accumulation of eosinophils may be caused by many factors such as particular foods or environmental irritants in some affected individuals. Some individuals with this condition have been found to have an unusually high expression of a particular gene called eotaxin-3 and an abnormal eotaxin-3 gene. This gene codes for a protein that is important in controlling the accumulation of eosinophils. Eosinophilic esophagitis can run in families but the mode of genetic transmission has not yet been determined.

Foods reported to be the cause of EE have included milk, eggs, peanuts, shellfish, peas, beef, chicken, fish, rye, corn, soy, potatoes, oats, tomatoes and wheat. Of these, the most common food triggers are milk, egg, wheat, rye and beef.

Environmental allergens, such as pollens, molds, cat, dog and dust mite allergens may also be involved in the development of EE.

Risk Factors

Climate – Living in a cold or dry climate.

Season – May be more likely diagnosed between the spring and fall, probably because levels of pollen and other allergens are higher and people are more prone to be outdoors.

Sex – More common in males than in females.

Family history – If family members have eosinophilic esophagitis, there may be a greater chance of being diagnosed.

Allergies and asthma – If a person has food or other allergies, or asthma, he or she isare more likely to be diagnosed.

Age – Originally thought to be a childhood disease, but now is known to be common in adults as well. However, the symptoms differ somewhat.


Symptoms vary from one person to the next. The symptoms may differ depending on age. Symptoms in young children may include problems with eating, vomiting and poor weight gain. Older children and adults may experience reflux, chest pain and difficulty swallowing. The symptoms can occur days or even weeks after eating a food allergen. However, symptoms may wax and wane, meaning they are not always present. This can be confusing. Common symptoms include =

  • Reflux that does not respond to usual therapy (this includes proton pump inhibitors, a medicine which stops acid production in the stomach)
  • Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
  • Food impactions (food gets stuck in the throat)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Failure to thrive (poor growth or weight loss)
  • Abdominal or chest pain
  • Poor appetite
  • Malnutrition
  • Difficulty sleeping


Complications associated with EE include –

  • Choking
  • Food impaction (getting food stuck in the throat) that requires a trip to the emergency room
  • Eating disorders can develop if eating is painful
  • Scarring and narrowing of the esophagus that may require surgery to fix
  • Feeding aversion may develop in toddlers, so that even if their EE is being managed, they may still not want to eat because they associate eating with feeling uncomfortable


Medication – Medication to reduce acid production will reduce acid reflux and the scarring that can result. Topical asthma steroid puffers can reduce inflammation in the oesophagus. These are swallowed instead of inhaled, are low dose, poorly absorbed, and extremely unlikely to cause cortisone/steroid tablet like side effects. They help reduce inflammation and the scarring that can result from untreated disease. Montelukast (Singulair) is an asthma tablet that reduces inflammation by blocking the effects of inflammatory chemicals known as leukotrienes released by white cells. Other medicines are also being studied.

Steroids are the most commonly used medication for both the control of the inflammation and the direct suppression of the eosinophils. These medications can be taken orally (in pill form) or topically. Steroids may need to be taken long term, though their long-term use for eosinophilic esophagitis has not been well studied. What is known is that for some patients, continued swallowed use of steroids can result in Candida infections (yeast infections of the mouth and esophagus) as a side effect.

Dilation – Sometimes if the oesophagus is very narrow, an endoscopy and a procedure known as dilation may be required to open up the oesophagus to allow food to pass more easily.

Diet manipulation – Dietary manipulation should be undertaken under the direction of a medical specialist and supervision of a specialist dietitian. Dietary manipulation may assist both adults and children. When undertaking dietary manipulation, the foods are removed for a period of time and then re-introduced one at a time to see which foods result in symptom recurring.


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