Allergy Articles

Leukotriene Inhibitors

This complicated term belongs to a class of very useful asthma medications. Currently there are two drugs available Accolate-zafirlukast and singulair montelukast. Both are tablets. The former is given twice a day and the latter, once a day. Both block a group of chemicals that promote inflammation, called the leukotrienes (slow reacting substance of anaphytaxis). Therefore, they address the central problem in asthma, the inflammation. The leukotrienes blockers, by inhibiting the inflammation, reduce asthma. Both the frequency of attacks and the severity are improved. By their very nature, they have to be used regularly or they will not help in an acute attack

Anti-Influenza Medicines

The best approach to managing influenza is prevention and for this, the accepted way is to vaccinate every year in the fall, in preparation for the winter. However, when Influenza does afflict you there are two drugs that can come to your aid (no, I’m not talking about any of the over-the-counter drugs making outrageous claims). The ones I have in mind are amantacline (Symmetrel) and rimantacline (Flumadine). If these drugs are taken early after the onset of symptoms they are very effective in halting the progressing of the disease. However, they will only work in Type A influenza. Both are given for four or five days and some pain medications are also given for the first day or two.

Influenza claims millions of victims world-wide each year and it may spell disaster for asthma/bronchitis patients. The drugs may not prevent deterioration of asthma or bronchitis drugs but the symptoms of influenza itself are alleviated quickly and effectively. As modern medicines bring spectacular relief to victims of many diseases, and it pays to keep abreast of developments.

Cat Allergy

Allergy to cats and dogs is very common. This is at least in part due to the popularity of these animals as household pets. But the most important reason is that humans develop allergy to these animals more readily than to most other pets. Cat allergy is by far the commonest allergy to pet animals. Although they carry many potential allergens, the most important of these are found in cat saliva. Since they constantly groom themselves, these allergens are deposited on the fur and transferred to carpets, furniture, bed linen, etc. Even in minute amounts these allergens can have devastating effects on allergy-prone individuals. And even after these animals are removed from the house, significant amounts of the allergens linger in the house for several months. The only sensible solution for cal allergy is removing the animal from the house and thoroughly cleaning the floor, walls, furniture and so on.

Sulfite Reactions

Sulfites are chemicals used to keep certain farm produce fresh longer. Examples are lettuce and other vegetables that go into salads, and in some products such as potato chips. They are found naturally in all wines and are also added to some wines as a preservative. Shrimp, dried apricots and dried raisins also contain sulfites. In some patients with asthma, ingesting sulfites may lead to an acute and sometimes life-threatening attack of asthma. The presumed reason for this reaction is the inhalation of sulfur dioxide generated in the stomach by the interaction between the sulfites and the stomach acid. All patients with asthma should be aware of this dangerous preservative intolerance and read labels of all food products. This is so even thought the FDA has moved to ban the use of sulfites in food products (because compliance is by no means certain).

Huff ‘n’ Puff

When asthma is a problem, the physician will often prescribe a type of medication which is inhaled directly into the airways several times a day. The delivery method for these drugs is an aerosol inhaler, sometimes called a “puffer”. Patients who have never used a “puffer” before may find it difficult the first few times, especially during the stress of an asthma attack. The tricks to remember are first shake the inhaler well to distribute the drug evenly. Exhale slowly and as completely as possible. Place lips tightly around the opening and breathe in evenly and as deeply as possible while spraying one measured dose of the inhaler toward the back of the throat. The dose of inhalers depend on the type of medication and the severity of asthma or bronchitis. Your physician will guide you in determining the appropriate dose for you.

Allergy Tips: Eggs

AVOID THE FOLLOWING:

  • egg (white, yolk, dried, powdered)
  • mayonnaise
  • meringue, Simplesse
  • cookies, cakes, pastries
  • ovomucin, ovalbumin, ovomucold
  • albumin, globulin
  • egg substitutes
  • eggnog

THE FOLLOWING CAN BE SUBSTITUTED FOR EGGS:

  • 1 tsp. baking powder, 1 Tbsp. liquid, 1 Tbsp. vinegar
  • 1 tsp. yeast in 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 Tbsp. apricot puree
  • 1-1/2 tsp. water, 1-1/2 Tbsp. oil, 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 packet plain gelatin, 2 Tbsp. warm water, mix only when ready to use

Allergic Alveolitis

The more common name for alveolitis is “Farmer’s Lung”. The disease results from a hypersensitivity to the dust and mold which often develop in wet hay. As the tiny particles are inhaled, they work their way into the alveoli, the smallest air passages in the lungs. Inflammation develops and the patient feels tired, short of breath, and has a dry cough and frequently, chills and fever. Allergic alveolitis can also be caused by other organic dust, such a s that from sugar cane, maple bark, animal hair, bird feathers or droppings, and mushroom compost. Acute attacks may require emergency treatment and possible hospitalization. Recovery may take as much as six weeks and there may be some lasting lung damage. A farmer may need to consider changing techniques, since mold occurs only when the products are not properly dried.

Life After Asthma

Everyone knows that asthma is a complicated disease and that its severity can vary from an occasional, mild, self-limiting attack to one that is debilitating and even life threatening. Few know that in most patients asthma can be treated so well that one can lead a near normal life. School children should be able to participate in all activities and attend school without losing any days. Adults should be able to hold any job and lead a full and active life. In general, a comprehensive management of asthma could mean freedom from emergency room visits, visits to the doctor or even taking multiple medicines.

A comprehensive allergy evaluation may identify avoidable allergens in the environment or diet. If aeroallergens are identified, allergy immunotherapy may be the appropriate course of action. Another major component of asthma management is the use of preventive medications that control the inflammation in the airway membranes. Inhaled steroids, cromolyn and nedocromil are extremely useful for such prevention. Also, there are newer medication which block the effects of chemicals such as slow reacting substances. Accolate, and Singulair are two promising drugs in this group.

When such treatment is done properly, even “severe” asthma may be tamed and controlled completely. Then, you may not need the bronchodilator rescue inhaler but once in a while.

Anti-Herpes Antibiotics

Fever blisters and genital herpes are caused by a virus called herpes simplex. Chicken pox and shingles are caused by a related, Varicella-Zoster virus. For both viruses there are now available, fairly effective medications. A few years ago acyclovir (Zovirax) was introduced for fever blisters and genital herpes and this has since been approved for use for shingles as well. When taken in appropriate doses it is quite effective and remarkably safe. The new addition is famcyclovir (Famvir). Recently, the former drug as been approved for chicken pox as well. The usual procedure is to use the above drugs orally, starting as soon as the diagnosis is made or at the outset of new lesions, in the case of recurrent fever blisters. Acyclovir has been used as a preventive for those patients who have frequent severe episodes. Here, the dose is taken twice a day continuously.

Smoking Cessation

Nicotine addiction is one of the strongest addictions and the hardest to break. It ranks equal to cocaine and the narcotics. It should come as no surprise that cigarette smokers are constantly “quitting” but rarely succeed. It also explains why there are so many remedies on the market and most of these succeed only in getting rid of some of your money. The only scientifically proven remedy is nicotine replacement by a nicotine chewing gum (“Nicorette”), nicotine inhaler or nicotine patches. Nicorette gum is chewed when the subject has the urge. In course of time the subjects lose the habit of smoking. The nicotine patch is applied once a day and a constant amount of nicotine leaches into the blood throughout the skin and this satisfies the addiction. The wearer can thus forget about cigarettes for the whole day and does not need constant replenishment with the chewing gum.