Tag Archives: anaphylaxis

Straight, No Chaser: Food Allergies

Food allergies sound like a cruel trick or something out of a horror movie, but unfortunately, they’re all too real. We’ve discussed seasonal allergies and allergic reactions before, but food allergies warrant addressing additional questions you’ve had.

 food.allergies.101.cnn.640x480

Why do I get allergies anyway?

Food and other types of allergies result from your body mistaking harmless substances for potential threats. The resulting immune response is an attempt to defeat that threat. You are caught in the crossfire, and you exhibit symptoms as a result.

Why do I get allergies to foods I’ve eaten before without a problem?

In many instances, the first time you’re exposed to a certain new food, your body is only primed, and you won’t experience symptoms. A subsequent exposure will prompt the full allergic response.

Is there a way to know if I’m at risk?

Food allergies are more likely in those who have a family history of allergies, asthma or eczema. Take a minute today and ask your parents if they have any allergies to foods or medicines. It’s good to be aware.

How do I know my symptoms are an allergic reaction?

We’ll discuss symptoms shortly, but one big clue is the timing of symptoms. Allergic reactions due to food take place within minutes to a few hours after exposure. It’s not as important for you to know the symptoms as to realize that you’re not well and that evaluation is needed.

 food allergy sx

So what are the symptoms?

Let’s start with the life-threatening considerations. If you have any shortness of breath, mental status changes (e.g. confusion, severe dizziness) or sensation that your throat is closing, get to an emergency room as soon as possible. Other symptoms may include the following.

  • Itching or swelling of your mouth or the tissues between your mouth and throat
  • Hives, wheals, or an eruption of your eczema
  • Abdominal pain or cramping
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Drop in your blood pressure

food allergy touch

Can you get food allergies from touching foods?

Yes. As an example, those with peanut allergies can have an allergic reaction from breathing in peanut residue, touching peanuts or using skin products that contain peanuts.

 food-allergies

Which foods are most likely to cause allergies?

Here is a partial list of foods commonly causing food allergies.

  • Cow’s mik
  • Eggs
  • Fish/shellfish
  • Peanuts/tree nuts
  • Soy
  • Wheat

Cow’s milk? Is that the same as lactose intolerance?

No. That’s a different consideration.

What about treatment?

That’s a different post. Obviously knowledge and avoidance are key.

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what 844-SMA-TALK and http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress. We are also on Facebook at SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

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Filed under Environmental, Hematology & Oncology/Blood Disorders/Cancer

Straight, No Chaser: What Would You Do If Your Tongue Suddenly Swelled? Learn About Angioedema

angioedema

Here at Straight, No Chaser, we want you to know how to prevent disease and injury because that’s a lot easier than the alternative. However, if and when the time comes, you should also have a few tools in your arsenal to stave off a life-threatening situation. One of the more scary examples of needing help is acute swelling of your tongue, sometimes so much so that your airway appears as if it will be blocked.

The most common cause of acute tongue, lip or throat swelling is called angioedema. This is an allergic reaction and occurs in two varieties.

  • A life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) sometimes occurs shortly after an exposure to substance such as medicine, bee or other insect stings or food. It can throw your entire body into a state of shock, including involvement of multiple parts of the body. This can include massive tongue swelling, wheezing, low blood pressure resulting in blackouts and, of course, the rash typified by hives (urticaria).
  • Sometimes lip, tongue and/or throat swelling may be the only symptoms.  This is more typical of a delayed reaction to certain medications, such as types of blood pressure medications (ACE inhibitors and calcium channel blockers), estrogen and the class of pain medication called NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen)

Angioedema-5

With any luck, you would already know you’re at risk for this condition, and your physician may have prompted you to wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace. In these cases, your physician may have also given you medicines and instruction on how to take them in the event you feel as if your tongue is swelling and/or your throat is closing. These medicines would include epinephrine for injection, steroids and antihistamines such as Benadryl. As you dial 911 (my recommendation) or make your way to the nearest hospital, taking any or all of these medications could be life-saving. By the way, those are the among the same medicines you’ll be treated with upon arrival to the emergency room. In severe cases, you may need to be intubated (i.e. have a breathing tube placed) to maintain some opening of the airway.

Angioedema_250x

If the swelling is (or assumed to be) due to any form of medication, symptoms will improve a few days after stopping it. If the swelling in this instance becomes severe enough, treatment may resemble that of the life-threatening variety.

There are few things better than cheating death. If you’re at risk, carry that injectable epinephrine (e.g. an Epi-pen). If you’re affected, take some Benadryl and/or steroids if you’ve been taught what dose to take, and most importantly, don’t wait to see if things improve. Get evaluated, get treated and get better!

I welcome your questions and comments.

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress. We are also on Facebook at SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Copyright © 2014 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Comments Off on Straight, No Chaser: What Would You Do If Your Tongue Suddenly Swelled? Learn About Angioedema

Filed under Endocrine/Metabolic, Head/Eyes/Ears/Nose/Throat, Skin/Dermatology

Straight, No Chaser: Allergies – Friend or Foe?

allergyseason

Bee stings. Medication reactions. Food allergies. Latex. Animals. Dust. Cosmetics. What do these things have in common? You get allergic to them, and in differing degrees they make you come to the emergency room or your physician’s office huffing and puffing and puffy and sometimes thinking about not breathing anymore.

allergy

The basis of allergies is that your body is trying to defend you from infections. Sometimes our defense mechanisms are “indiscriminate,” and the body overreacts to what normally might be harmless substances by producing a system wide reaction, producing antibodies to certain triggers (allergens). This overreaction amounts to our bodies fighting a war that doesn’t need to be fought. That manifests itself clinically by some subset of itchy rashes (called wheals, urticaria or angioedema), shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting and other body-wide systems. Again, it’s important to note that this can be both a systemic overreaction or just a local reaction.

One question I commonly get asked is “Why am I allergic to this now?” In other words, sometimes allergies occur after the initial exposure to seafood or peanuts, or maybe you had been stung by a bee in the past without incident. That occurs because the first allergic exposure doesn’t always cause a visible reaction. However, it will sensitize the body such that you’re mobilized for subsequent exposures and will be prepared to “unload both barrels” if it’s needed. Unfortunately, this reaction can be life-threatening. This life-threatening response is called anaphylaxis, and you’ll know it because more than one organ system of your body will be affected. For example, you may have pounding or racing heartbeats, breathing difficulties, intestinal upset, itchy skin rashes and/or dizziness as your body goes into shock.

allergiesintro

Although allergic reactions are more likely to occur in those with conditions like asthma, eczema, allergic rhinitis, seasonal allergies, and sleep apnea, to be clear, the acute allergic reaction is a different animal than seasonal allergies. If you have any sensation that you’re short of breath, your throat feels like it’s closing, you have any dizziness or altered mental status, palpitations, or if the rash is diffuse and spreading, please get to your closest emergency room. I wouldn’t be upset if you took the recommended dose of Benadryl (generic name: diphenhydramine) along the way.

Final tip: Those of you who’ve suffered any type of allergic reaction to medication, food, animals, etc., should ask your physician about the utility of carrying an epipen, benadryl or steroids to be taken in the event of an emergency. If your risk profile warrants it, any or all of these could prove life saving. However, these medicines aren’t without risk, so you shouldn’t take any of them unless recommended by your physician.

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of 844-SMA-TALK and http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA). Enjoy some of our favorite posts and frequently asked questions as well as a daily note explaining the benefits of SMA membership. Please share our page with your Friends on WordPress, on Facebook at SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Copyright © 2014 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Comments Off on Straight, No Chaser: Allergies – Friend or Foe?

Filed under General Health and Wellness

Straight, No Chaser: What Would You Do If Your Tongue Suddenly Swelled? Learn About Angioedema

Angioedema_250xAngioedema-5angioedema

Here at Straight, No Chaser, we want you to know how to prevent disease and injury because that’s a lot easier than the alternative. However, if and when the time comes, you should also have a few tools in your arsenal to stave off a life-threatening situation. One of the more scary examples of needing help is acute swelling of your tongue, sometimes so much so that your airway appears as if it will be blocked.

The most common cause of acute tongue, lip or throat swelling is called angioedema. This is an allergic reaction and occurs in two varieties.

  • A life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) sometimes occurs shortly after an exposure to substance such as medicine, bee or other insect stings or food. It can throw your entire body into a state of shock, including involvement of multiple parts of the body. This can include massive tongue swelling, wheezing, low blood pressure resulting in blackouts and, of course, the rash typified by hives (urticaria).
  • Sometimes lip, tongue and/or throat swelling may be the only symptoms.  This is more typical of a delayed reaction to certain medications, such as types of blood pressure medications (ACE inhibitors and calcium channel blockers), estrogen and the class of pain medication called NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen)

With any luck, you would already know you’re at risk for this condition, and your physician may have prompted you to wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace. In these cases, your physician may have also given you medicines and instruction on how to take them in the event you feel as if your tongue is swelling and/or your throat is closing. These medicines would include epinephrine for injection, steroids and antihistamines such as Benadryl. As you dial 911 (my recommendation) or make your way to the nearest hospital, taking any or all of these medications could be life-saving. By the way, those are the among the same medicines you’ll be treated with upon arrival to the emergency room. In severe cases, you may need to be intubated (i.e. have a breathing tube placed) to maintain some opening of the airway.

If the swelling is (or assumed to be) due to any form of medication, symptoms will improve a few days after stopping it. If the swelling in this instance becomes severe enough, treatment may resemble that of the life-threatening variety.

There are few things better than cheating death. If you’re at risk, carry that injectable epinephrine (e.g. an Epi-pen). If you’re affected, take some Benadryl and/or steroids if you’ve been taught what dose to take, and most importantly, don’t wait to see if things improve. Get evaluated, get treated and get better!

I welcome your questions and comments.

Copyright © 2013 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

1 Comment

Filed under Head/Eyes/Ears/Nose/Throat, Health Prevention

Straight, No Chaser: When Allergies Strike

allergy

Bee stings.  Medication reactions.  Food allergies.  Latex.  Animals.  Dust.  Cosmetics.  What do these things have in common?  You get allergic to them, and in differing degrees, they make you come to me huffing and puffing and puffy and thinking about not breathing anymore.

The basis of allergies is that your body is trying to defend you from infections.  Sometimes our defense mechanisms are ‘inaccurate’, and the body overreacts to what normally might be harmless substances by producing a system wide reaction (antibodies) to certain triggers (allergens).  This overreaction leads to our bodies fighting a war that isn’t meant to be fought.  That manifests itself clinically by some subset of itchy rashes (wheals, urticaria or angioedema), shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting and other systemic systems.  Again, it’s important to note that this can be both a systemic overreaction or just a local reaction.

One question I commonly get asked is “Why I am allergic to this now?”  In other words, sometimes allergies occur after the initial exposure to seafood or peanuts, or maybe you had been stung by a bee in the past.  That occurs because the first allergic exposure doesn’t always cause a visible reaction.  However, it will sensitize the body such that you’re mobilized for subsequent exposures and will be prepared to ‘unload both barrels’ if it’s needed.  Unfortunately, this reaction can be itself life-threatening.  This life-threatening response is called anaphylaxis, and you’ll know it because more than one organ system of your body (heart palpations, breathing difficulties, gastric upset, itchy skin rashes, dizziness as your body goes into shock, etc.).

Although allergic reactions are more likely to occur in those with conditions like asthma, eczema, allergic rhinitis, seasonal allergies, and sleep apnea, to be clear, the acute allergic reaction is a different animal than seasonal allergies.  If you have any sensation that you’re short of breath, your throat feels like it’s closing, you have any dizziness or altered mental status, palpitations, or if the rash is diffuse and spreading, please get to your closest emergency room.  I wouldn’t be upset if you took the recommended dose of Benadryl along the way.

Final tip: Those of you who’ve suffered any type of allergic reaction to medication, food, animals, etc. should ask your physician about the utility of carrying an epipen, benadryl or steroids in the event of an emergency.  If your risk profile warrants it, any or all of these could prove life saving.  However, these medicines aren’t without risk, so you shouldn’t take any of them unless recommended by your physician.

2 Comments

Filed under Health Prevention, Medical Treatment, Skin/Dermatology