There’s a new color of pumpkin in town and it’s teal colored!

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Reviewed by Faith Huang, M.D.

If your child has food allergies, a teal pumpkin at the doorstep can be a welcome treat. This Halloween, teal pumpkins at the doorstep inform the trick-or-treater that non-food treats are available!

These pumpkins don’t come from a strange patch, but from a new national campaign called The Teal Pumpkin Project that’s promoting food-allergy awareness this Halloween.

Although for many kids Halloween is a time of treats in the form of candy, not all trick-or-treaters are able to enjoy the treats most people hand out. According to a study, 1 in 13 kids in the United States has a food allergy that can be life threatening.  Often, the candies that are handed out contain or are cross contaminated with food allergens such as milk, peanuts, tree nuts and sesame.

The great news is that any household can participate.  All you need to do is paint a pumpkin teal and display it, then provide non-food treats to trick-or-treaters on Halloween. You could offer festive trinkets or toys.  Be mindful that some non-food toys such as Play-Doh contain wheat.

For more information on the Teal Pumpkin project, please visit this link to the Food Allergy Research and Education website: http://www.foodallergy.org/teal-pumpkin-project

Have a safe and Halloween!

 

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New asthma medication shows effectiveness in recent study!

New asthma medication shows effectiveness in recent study!

A new study on severe asthma and a potential new treatment was published in New England Journal of Medicine in September 2014.  The study is on a new medication called mepolizumab, which is an antibody that can be given subcutaneously to patients with severe, eosinophilic asthma.  The study was called the Mepolizumab as Adjunctive Therapy in Patients with Severe Asthma (or MENSA) trial, and the medication was shown to decrease asthma flares and improvements in several other measures of asthma control.

Only about 10% of patients with asthma have severe asthma, but the patients in this group experience much more health risks and complications than other asthma patients.  About 1/3 of these patients who have severe asthma has what is called “eosinophilic” asthma, where specific allergic cells called eosinophils contribute to inflammation in the airway.

They study looked at over 500 patients with severe eosinophilic asthma, and each patient was randomly assigned to one of these groups: patients who received 75mg of mepolizumab intravenously (with the medication going through the vein), patients who received 100mg of mepolizumab subcutaneous (with the medication given as a shot under the skin), or placebo (an intervention with no active drug ingredients).

The results showed that patients receiving either the intravenous or the subcutaneous form of mepolizumab had statistically significantly fewer asthma exacerbations than the patient who were given placebo.

Although this medication is still under research, these results are exciting as we have always known that patients with asthma may have different types of asthma, and the goal in the future will be to further define what those “types” are, and tailor medical therapy if we understand that certain patients with certain types of asthma will benefit more from some treatments versus others.  This study shows that for patients with severe eosinophilic asthma, that they seem to benefit greatly from this new medication mepolizumab.

At Allergy and Asthma Associates of Southern California, we thrive to be on the cutting edge in terms of our understanding of allergic and immunologic disease, so that the patient to benefit most from that knowledge that is being gained for their specific disease every day.

by Faith Huang, M.D.

If you are suffering from any type of  asthma or allergy, please call us at (949) 364-2900 to schedule your appointment today. You can also use our online Request an Appointment form to schedule a future appointment.

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U.S. Born Children have more Allergic Disease than Foreign-Born American Children

I came across a research study that was recently published in JAMA Pediatrics that showed that children born outside the United States have a lower prevalence of allergic disease than U.S. born children, after adjusting for variables such as age, sex, race/ethnicity, household income, geographic location, and moving to a new address.  It also showed that the prevalence of allergic disease for children born outside the U.S. increased after living in the U.S. for one decade.

The study was done by distributing a questionnaire for 91,642 children aged 0 to 17 years who were enrolled in the 2007-2008 National Survey of Children’s Health.   The responses of 79,667 participants were analyzed after excluding some children because of lack of health care interactions in the last 12 months.

The study looked at allergic disease, which included asthma, eczema, hay fever, and food allergies. In particular, the study found that children born outside the U.S. had lower odds of asthma, eczema and hay fever.  Interestingly, children born outside the U.S. whose parents were also born outside the U.S. had significantly lower prevalence of any allergic disease than those whose parents were born in the U.S.

Why are we seeing this trend? I get this question from patients, family and friends all the time.  I don’t have a definitive answer, but there are different theories as to why the prevalence of allergic disease is increasing and why this might be occurring more in the U.S. than other countries.

One theory that is widely talked about is the hygiene hypothesis.  The hygiene hypothesis suggests that either infections or certain exposures to germs in early childhood may give a person some protection against allergic disease.  In this study, the odds of developing allergic disease are shown to dramatically increase after living in the U.S. for longer than 10 years, suggesting that if there is merit to the hygiene hypothesis, the protective effects may not be life-long.  In addition, there is perhaps a relationship with allergic disease and parental behavior, since having a parent who is also foreign-born seems to give additive protection. For example, the authors suggest that some cultures traditionally use more spices and green tea that have some anti-allergy and anti-inflammatory properties.  The authors of this study also previously reported that obesity is associated with asthma and eczema, so it is possible that living in the U.S. may change behavior that may lead to more allergic disease.   There may be many reasons for why the prevalence of allergic disease is increasing in the U.S, and studies such as these add to the knowledge base so that we can try to pinpoint specific factors that may be worsening the situation.

If you are suffering from any type of  allergy, please call us at (949) 364-2900 to schedule your appointment today. You can also use our online Request an Appointment form to schedule a future appointment.

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Time for Spring Cleaning!

During this spring, it can be great for your overall health to do a spring cleaning of your home!  For those of you who are sensitive to allergens that are indoors, allergy “season” is one that lasts all year round, but your symptoms may worsen when the tree pollen comes in the springtime.

Recently, the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI) put together some tips to help you effectively reduce allergen in the home and to avoid letting more allergen in!

I have summarized below a brief overview of the tips.  You can find more detailed information on the ACAAI website at : http://www.acaai.org/allergist/news/New/Pages/DoubleDutySpringCleaningKeepHealthyandTidy.aspx

1) Close the windows. This might seem counterintuitive since most people think that opening the windows will let the fresh air in.  For those who are allergic to tree pollen, this can lead to pollen particles entering your home.

2) Scrub away the mold.  Your bathrooms, basements and areas that are tiled can be especially prone to mold. The key to reducing mold is moisture control. Scrub any visible mold from surfaces with detergent and water, and completely dry. You can also help ward off mold by keeping home humidity below 60 percent.

3) Love your pet but reduce their dander.   You can reduce pet allergens by vacuuming frequently and washing upholstery, including your pet’s bed. Also make sure you keep your pet out of the bedroom at all times to ensure you can sleep without burying your face in what you are allergic to!

4) Clean the entire house! Cleaning the entire house from top to bottom may take days. But you can get a head start by changing your air filters every three months and using filters with a MERV rating of 11 or 12. Wash bedding and stuffed animals weekly.

5) Avoid the outdoors during peak pollen count times. As the grass turns green and flowers bud, it’s hard to neglect the outdoors during your spring cleaning routine. It’s best to avoid being outdoors when pollen counts are highest (mid-day and afternoon hours). When mowing and gardening, be sure to wear gloves and a N95 particulate pollen mask (Centers for Disease Control (CDC) NIOSH rated).  You can also download our App (we have our very own App for our practice!) and from it you can easily check pollen counts from where you are!

If you have any questions regarding exactly what you are allergic to and how to reduce your exposure to those allergens, please see your board certified allergist for a personalized treatment plan to get you feeling better!

-Faith Huang, M.D.

Allergy & Asthma Associates of Southern California provides relief from allergies, asthma, sinus problems, chronic cough and other related conditions. Dr. William E. Berger, Dr. Warner W. Carr, Dr. Mark S. SugarDr. Christina D. Schwindt, and Dr. Faith R. Huang together with their staff specialize in allergy and immunology in Southern California.

If you or your child is suffering from any type of  allergy, please call us at (949) 364-2900 to schedule your appointment today. You can also use our online Request an Appointment form to schedule a future appointment.

 

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New Medication Approved for Chronic Hives!

(Omalizumab approved by the FDA for Chronic Idiopathic Urticaria)

Chronic idiopathic urticaria (CIU) is a skin disease where patients get red and itchy hives that come and go for more than 6 weeks.  About 40% of CIU patients also experience angioedema, which is when there is swelling in the deep layers of the skin.

There are many different causes of hives including viruses, allergic reactions to specific foods, drugs, and insects, as well as other specific triggers, so it’s important to see your board certified allergist for an accurate diagnosis!  The allergist, after taking your history, doing a comprehensive physical exam and the tests that are appropriate for your situation, will determine if you have CIU.

In general, the first step in the treatment of CIU after it has been diagnosed is antihistamines.  If this works, it will help suppress the hives and the swelling. Unfortunately, for up to ½ of the patients with CIU, this does not work!  This is bad news for the up to 1% of the world’s population who suffers from CIU, including the 1.5 million people in the U.S. who have this condition.

Omalizumab (Xolair®) is a targeted therapy that binds to Immunoglobulin E (IgE), the “allergic antibody”.  It is currently used as a treatment for persistent asthma.  The recent FDA approval was mainly based on the results of two major studies (ASTERIA I and II), which studied patients who did not respond to approved doses of antihistamines.  The study showed that omalizumab significantly improved hives and itchiness, and in many patients completely cleared the symptoms.  The quality of life was also significantly improved for patients treated with omalizumab, as CIU can be associated with depression and anxiety.

If you are someone who suffers from chronic hives, please see your board certified allergist for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan!  There are new things happening in the field that could significantly change your quality of life.

-by Faith Huang, M.D.

Allergy & Asthma Associates of Southern California provides relief from allergies, asthma, sinus problems, chronic cough and other related conditions. Dr. William E. Berger, Dr. Warner W. Carr, Dr. Mark S. SugarDr. Christina D. Schwindt, and Dr. Faith R. Huang together with their staff specialize in allergy and immunology in Southern California.

If you or your child is suffering from hives or any other type of  allergy, please call us at (949) 364-2900 to schedule your appointment today. You can also use our online Request an Appointment form to schedule a future appointment.

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