Tag Archives | Allergies

Why do we have allergies?

parrchristy (CC BY 2.0)

parrchristy (CC BY 2.0)

Allergies such as peanut allergy and hay fever make millions of us miserable, but scientists aren’t even sure why they exist. Carl Zimmer talks to a master immunologist with a controversial answer.

For me, it was hornets.

One summer afternoon when I was 12, I ran into an overgrown field near a friend’s house and kicked a hornet nest the size of a football. An angry squadron of insects clamped onto my leg; their stings felt like scorching needles. I swatted the hornets away and ran for help, but within minutes I realised something else was happening. A constellation of pink stars had appeared around the stings. The hives swelled, and new ones began appearing farther up my legs. I was having an allergic reaction.

My friend’s mother gave me antihistamines and loaded me into her van. We set out for the county hospital, my dread growing as we drove.… Read the rest

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Tick Bites Turning Meat Eaters Into Vegetarians

Have animals finally found a way to stop us eating them? Katie Moisse reports for ABC News:
There's a new weapon in the war on meat: a tiny tick, whose bite might be spreading meat allergies up the East Coast. A bite from the lone star tick, so-called for the white spot on its back, looks innocent enough. But University of Virginia researchers say saliva that sneaks into the tiny wound may trigger an allergic reaction to meat -- agonizing enough to convert lifelong carnivores into wary vegetarians. "People will eat beef and then anywhere from three to six hours later start having a reaction; anything from hives to full-blown anaphylactic shock," said Dr. Scott Commins, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. "And most people want to avoid having the reaction, so they try to stay away from the food that triggers it."...
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Six Million American Kids Have Food Allergies

US Navy 110327-N-MU720-031 Volunteers erve food to children at the Biko-en Children's Care HouseMost parents I know agree that when they were kids, hardly anyone had food allergies. Now the kid who brings a PB&J sandwich to school might as well have sneaked in a dirty nuke. This report from Medpage Today confirms the explosion in food allergies, but doesn’t answer the obvious question: Why?

Food allergy in children is more common than previously thought, and often is associated with severe symptoms and multiple foods, a new survey found.

The prevalence of food allergy in children and adolescents younger than 18 was 8% (95% CI 7.6 to 8.3), according to Ruchi S. Gupta, MD, of Northwestern University in Chicago, and colleagues.

That percentage translates into almost six million children in the U.S., the researchers noted.

And among these allergic children, 38.7% had a history of severe reactions and 30.4% were allergic to more than one type of food, they reported online in Pediatrics.

Previous studies have suggested that the prevalence of food allergy among U.S.

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Food Allergies: All In The Mind?

Does anyone over the age of, say, 30 feel as though the amount of people claiming allergies to all kinds of foods has spread like wildfire, whereas when you were a kid hardly anyone had a food allergy? I thought that the proliferation had to be due to environmental changes, particularly various man-made toxins and pollution of our food, water and air, but according to this New York Times story, many of these people aren’t allergic at all:

Many who think they have food allergies actually do not.

A new report, commissioned by the federal government, finds the field is rife with poorly done studies, misdiagnoses and tests that can give misleading results.

The ubiquitous EpiPen, carried everywhere by those with food allergies. Photo: Sean WIlliam (CC)

The ubiquitous EpiPen, carried everywhere by those with food allergies. Photo: Sean WIlliam (CC)

While there is no doubt that people can be allergic to certain foods, with reproducible responses ranging from a rash to a severe life-threatening reaction, the true incidence of food allergies is only about 8 percent for children and less than 5 percent for adults, said Dr.

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