All posts in Allergy News

Some OTC Allergy Eye Drops are a scam

Over the Counter  Similisan “Allergy Relief Eyedrops“, sold at many pharmacies and food markets contain worthless ingredients for treating the ocular symptoms of allergy including itching and redness. Steven Salzburg, a biomedical engineer, wrote last month in Forbes magazine ( May 2016) that he noticed the eye drops at his local Giant Food Store (parent of Martins). He noted that the eye drop costs $10 and contains three ingredients- ground honeybees, “eyebright” and sabadilla plant extract. Based on incorrect theories, these homeopathic eyedrops are supposed to relieve allergy symptoms by using ground up honey bees, and two plants that have been shown NOT to have any medicinal value. Sabadilla is an insecticide which causes eye irritation. “Eyebright” is a plant whose petals resemble a blood shot eye. It was reasoned by the ancient Greeks thousands of years ago that it may be helpful at treating red eyes because of its appearance rather than any proven effect. Homeopathic doctors prolong the deception that these old solutions can delivery any relief.

The writing on the eye drop box says it meets homeopathic standards which essentially means that if it causes irritation then it can treat irritation. Unfortunately the FDA has no power to prohibit the sale of these useless ( and potentially irritating) eyedrops. Like most homeopathic medications on the market they are a complete waste of money.

If your insurance doesn’t cover prescription eye drops for allergy then look for ketotifen eye drops which also cost about $10 but contain ingredients fully studied in clinical research and on the US market for more than 20 years. Brand names of ketotifen include Aloway and Zaditor. I welcome any comments you might have on this article.


Driving under the influence of allergies

Driving and allergies

A recent article in the Journal of allergy highlighted a small study done in the Netherlands involving patients who suffered from grass or tree allergies.  The patient’s and the study did a 60 minute driving test in a vehicle with the camera that recorded how often they veered toward the center lane.  These patients were tested during the prime allergy season when they were symptomatic and retested off-season when they did not have significant nasal and eye symptoms.  The results of the study showed that the driving ability seem to be affected by the allergy symptoms regardless of whether they use their non-sedating antihistamine and nasal spray.  The authors suggested that driving with acute allergy symptoms in season was the equivalent of the impairment of a blood alcohol level of 0.03% which is not far from the European legal limit of 0.5% for impaired driving.

The criticism of the study design may be the fact that only 19 people were tested.  Obviously, a a study showing many more people with the same results would be more convincing but is not hard to imagine that the severe spring symptoms involving the nose and eyes might certainly have an effect on driving ability.


Eating Nuts In Pregnancy Lowers Risk of Nut Allergy in Children

Pregnant women who eat more peanuts and tree nuts during pregnancy might be less likely to have nut-allergic children, a new study suggests.

The research, published last week in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, supports the recent findings among medical professionals that delaying the introduction of nuts, milk, fish, shellfish, eggs and other highly allergenic foods in young children doesn’t prevent the development of food allergies, said Michael C. Young, associate clinical professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, and a senior author of the study.

The findings inversely link a pregnant mother’s consumption of peanuts or tree nuts with the onset of nut allergies in her child. The more nuts the mother ate while pregnant, or within a year before or after pregnancy, the lower the risk that the child would go on to develop nut allergies, Dr. Young said. The study doesn’t demonstrate a causal relationship between a pregnant mother’s diet and the onset of nut allergies in her offspring, he said.

The researchers stopped short of advising pregnant women to eat more nuts. Further interventional studies—in which researchers would separate participating pregnant women into groups and prescribe their diets, rather than simply track their consumption—are required before they can make such a recommendation.


The Greatest Allergy Myths- debuncked!

At the Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), in November 2013, Dr. David Stukus reviewed common public misconceptions about allergies. They are worth reviewing:

1. I’m Allergic to Artificial Dyes – There is no scientific evidence to support a link between exposure to artificial coloring and allergies. Controversy exists regarding evidence for artificial coloring and behavioral changes in children, as well as dyes causing chronic urticaria and asthma.

2. I Cannot Have Vaccines Due to an Egg Allergy – Egg embryos are used to grow viruses for vaccines such as the flu, yellow fever and rabies shots. However, it’s now safe to get the flu shot, which can help prevent serious illness.

3. At-Home Blood Tests Reveal All You’re Allergic To – These tests might be able to reveal sensitization, but being sensitized to a certain allergen, like milk, doesn’t mean you’re allergic. These sort of at-home screening tests are not reliable and can often lead to misinterpretation, diagnostic confusion and unnecessary dietary elimination.

4. Highly Allergenic Foods Shouldn’t be Given to Children until 12 Months of Age – For most children, there is no evidence to support avoidance of highly allergenic foods past four to six months of age. New evidence emerging shows that early introduction of highly allergenic foods may promote tolerance.

5.I’m Allergic to Cats and Dogs, but can Have a Hypoallergenic Breed – Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a truly hypoallergenic dog or cat. Allergens are released in saliva, sebaceous glands and perianal glands. It’s not the fur people are allergic to. It is true that some breeds are more bothersome for allergy sufferers than others.

6. I’m Allergic to Shellfish and Cannot Have Iodine Imaging – Radiologists and cardiologists often use iodinated contrast during CT scans and other procedures for better imaging. Since shellfish contain iodine, many physicians have linked a contrast reaction to a shellfish allergy. However, this is false, and a shellfish allergy has nothing to do with the reaction. In fact, iodine is not and cannot be an allergen as it found in the human body.

7. I Can’t have Bread, I’m Allergic to Gluten – You can have a gluten intolerance, but it’s extremely rare as an adult to have a true allergy to wheat.


Allergy injections during pregnancy may decrease allergies in their children

Allergy injections given to pregnant women may decrease chance of their children developing childhood allergies. At the American College of Allergy and Asthma meeting in November 2013, Jay Lieberman, MD reported the results of his study. ” Our research found trends suggesting that women receiving allergy shots either before or during pregnancy reduced their child’s chances of having asthma, food allergies and eczema.Prior studies have suggested that mothers can pass protective factors to their fetus that may decrease their child’s chance of developing allergic disease”.

Studies with larger number of pregnant women on allergy injections and longer followup of their children are needed to confirm this hypothesis.


Rhinitis Symptoms now linked to Migraine Headaches

Twelve percent of the US population have migraine headaches. A new study done at the Albert Einstein Medical Center and the University of Cincinnati, published last month in the neurology journal  “Cephalalgia” for the first time links symptoms of nasal congestion and irritation to the frequency of migraine headaches. This applied to patients with both allergic and non- allergic rhinitis. What wasn’t clear in the study was whether the nasal symptoms caused more frequent migraines or vice versa.  However, clearly there is a link between the two as the data in this study indicate.


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