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Preview: What is Allergy: Description, Causes, Symptoms, Risk factors, Treatment

What is Allergy: Description, Causes, Symptoms, Risk factors, Treatment


Yale researchers beat untreatable eczema with arthritis drug


Researchers at Yale School of Medicine have successfully treated patients with moderate to severe eczema using a rheumatoid arthritis drug recently shown to reverse two other disfiguring skin conditions, vitiligo and alopecia areata. The study is evidence of a potential new era in eczema treatment, they report. The research findings are published early online in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. Eczema (atopic dermatitis) is a chronic condition that causes severe itching and leaves the skin red and thickened. It can adversely affect sleep and quality of life. Standard treatments, such as steroid creams and oral medicines, commonly fail to relieve symptoms in patients with moderate to severe eczema.

The role of the microbiota in preventing allergies


The human body is inhabited by billions of symbiotic bacteria, carrying a diversity that is unique to each individual. The microbiota is involved in many mechanisms, including digestion, vitamin synthesis and host defense. It is well established that a loss of bacterial symbionts promotes the development of allergies. Scientists at the Institut Pasteur have succeeded in explaining this phenomenon, and demonstrate how the microbiota acts on the balance of the immune system: the presence of microbes specifically blocks the immune cells responsible for triggering allergies. These results are published in Science on July 9, 2015. The hygiene hypothesis suggests a link between the decline in infectious diseases and the increase in allergic diseases in industrialized countries. Improvements in hygiene levels necessarily lead to reduced contact with microbes that is paralleled by an increased incidence in allergic and autoimmune diseases, such as type 1 diabetes. Epidemiological studies have substantiated this hypothesis, by showing that children living in contact with farm animals - and therefore with more microbial agents - develop fewer allergies during their lifetime. Conversely, experimental studies have shown that administering antibiotics to mice within the first days of life results in a loss of microbiota, and subsequently, in an increased incidence in allergy.

Emergency visits for childhood food allergy on rise in Illinois


Emergency room visits and hospitalizations of children with severe, potentially life-threatening food allergy reactions increased an average of nearly 30 percent per year over five years in Illinois, reports a Northwestern Medicine study. Hispanic children, who previously had the lowest reported cases of food allergies, had the biggest increase of emergency room and hospitalizations overall with a 44 percent average annual rise. The children in the study experienced anaphylaxis, which can include difficulty breathing, reduced blood pressure, loss of consciousness and potentially death.

Women hospitalized 60 percent more than men after emergency asthma treatment


While it may be a stereotype, it’s also true that women seek medical care more frequently than men do. And a recent study shows that women with acute asthma who are treated in the emergency department (ED) are 60 percent more likely than men treated in the ED to need hospitalization. The study, published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, the scientific publication of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), looked at the sex differences in patient characteristics, and risk of hospitalizations in 2,000 ED patients with acute asthma. “It’s important to note the men and women whose charts we studied had certain things in common,” said lead study author Rose Chasm, MD. “Most had not been seen by an allergist, and had not used controller medications (inhaled corticosteroids) for their asthma. In addition, many were overweight and some were active smokers. A fairly high percentage did not have health insurance, although women had it more often than men. After adjusting for all those factors, we found that women were still 60 percent more likely to be hospitalized after being seen in an ED for acute asthma than men.” The authors speculate that there are a number of reasons for their findings, including altered perception of airflow obstruction, potential influences of female sex hormones, differences in bronchial hyper responsiveness and health behaviors. More studies need to be conducted to determine exact reasons.

UTMB study shows cost-effective expert recommended asthma test underutilized by physicians


Researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston have found, for the first time, that spirometry was underutilized for asthma diagnosis and management in U.S. adults from 2001 to 2011, despite it’s accuracy, cost effectiveness and the publication of national guidelines advocating its use. Spirometry is a common test that allows physicians to determine how well a person’s lungs work by measuring how much air is inhaled and exhaled as well as how quickly the air is exhaled. This test plays a vital role in the diagnosis and management of asthma by providing accurate measurements of air volumes and flows. The Choosing Wisely initiative of the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation helps physicians and patients work together to make appropriate, effective and cost-effective health care choices. Asthma affects about 8 percent of U.S. adults, which cost $56 billion in medical care in 2007. The Choosing Wisely initiative recommends spirometry for diagnosis and follow-up asthma care because it’s effective and costs about $42.

Blood test predicts severity of peanut and seafood allergies


A new blood test promises to predict which people will have severe allergic reactions to foods according to a new study led by Mount Sinai researchers and published online today in the The Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. To detect food allergies, physicians typically use skin prick tests or blood tests that measure levels of allergen-specific IgE (sIgE), a protein made by the immune system. However, these tests cannot predict the severity of allergic reactions. Oral food challenges, in which specific allergens are given to patients to ingest under physician supervision to test for signs or symptoms of an allergic reaction, remain the gold standard for diagnosing food allergy even though the tests themselves can trigger severe reactions. In the newly published study, Mount Sinai researchers from The Mindich Child Health and Development Institute and the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute report that by counting the numbers of one type of immune cell activated by exposure to a food, a simple, safe blood test can accurately predict the severity of each person’s allergic reaction to it. The immune cell measured is the basophil, and the blood test, the basophil activation test or BAT, requires only a small blood sample and provides quick results. “While providing crucial information about their potential for a severe allergic reaction to a food, having blood drawn for BAT testing is a much more comfortable procedure than food challenges.” says first author Ying Song, MD. “Although food challenges are widely practiced, they carry the risk of severe allergic reactions, and we believe BAT testing will provide accurate information in a safer manner,” says Dr. Song, also a researcher in the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at The Mount Sinai Hospital.

Spot treatment


Acne, a scourge of adolescence, may be about to meet its ultra high-tech match. By using a combination of ultrasound, gold-covered particles and lasers, researchers from UC Santa Barbara and the private medical device company Sebacia have developed a targeted therapy that could potentially lessen the frequency and intensity of breakouts, relieving acne sufferers the discomfort and stress of dealing with severe and recurring pimples. “Through this unique collaboration, we have essentially established the foundation of a novel therapy,” said Samir Mitragotri, professor of chemical engineering at UCSB. Pimples form when follicles get blocked by sebum, an oily, waxy substance secreted by sebaceous glands located adjacent to the follicle. Excretion of sebum is a natural process and functions to lubricate and waterproof the skin. Occasionally, however, the openings of the follicles (pores) get blocked, typically by bits of hair, skin, dirt or other debris mixed in with the sebum. Overproduction of sebum is also a problem, which can be caused by hormones or medications. Changes in the skin, such as its thickening during puberty, can also contribute to follicle blockage. Whatever the cause, the accumulating sebum harbors bacteria, which results in the inflammation and local infection that we call acne. The new technology builds on Mitragotri’s specialties in targeted therapy and transdermal drug delivery.

Do genes play a role in peanut allergies? New study suggests - YES


Researchers have pinpointed a region in the human genome associated with peanut allergy in U.S. children, offering strong evidence that genes can play a role in the development of food allergies. But in an additional finding that suggests genes are not the only players in food allergies, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health-led research team found there may be other molecular mechanisms that may contribute to whether those who are genetically predisposed to peanut allergies actually develop them. The findings are published online Feb. 24 in the journal Nature Communications. “We always suspected it, but this is the first genome-wide association study (GWAS) that identified a genetic link to well-defined peanut allergy,” says the study’s principal investigator, Xiaobin Wang, MD, ScD, MPH, the Zanvyl Krieger Professor and Director of the Center on the Early Life Origins of Disease at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Researchers discover promising targets for treating allergies and asthma


Researchers in the United Kingdom, the United States, Sweden and Canada report in Nature that they have discovered more than 30 genes that have strong effects on Immunoglobulin E (IgE), allergies and asthma. IgE is the antibody that triggers allergic responses. Among the genes are promising novel drug targets for treating allergies and asthma. Allergies affect 30 percent of the population and 10 percent of children suffer from asthma. The researchers also found that the genes are concentrated in eosinophils, a white cell that ignites inflammation in asthmatic airways. The genes indicate when the eosinophils are activated and primed to cause the most damage. The newly found activation signals provide a possible means of directing treatments by predicting who will respond before starting therapy. David Schwartz, MD, chairman of the Department of Medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine at the Anschutz Medical Campus, is one of the team of researchers who contributed to the report, published Feb. 18 in Nature. Ivana Yang, PhD, associate professor of medicine the School of Medicine, also contributed to the report.

Children on Dairy Farms Less Likely to Develop Allergies


Children who live on farms that produce milk run one-tenth the risk of developing allergies as other rural children. According to researchers at Sahlgrenska Academy, pregnant women may benefit from spending time on dairy farms to promote maturation of the fetal and neonatal immune system. The occurrence of allergic diseases has risen dramatically in Western societies. One frequently cited reason is that children are less exposed to microorganisms and have fewer infections than previous generations, thereby delaying maturation of the immune system. A study by researchers at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, monitored children until the age of three to examine maturation of the immune system in relation to allergic disease. All of the children lived in rural areas of the Västra Götaland Region, half of them on farms that produced milk.