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Smoothie Bars & Ice Cream Parlors: A Potential Allergy Nightmare

Standing in line at Trader Joe’s last week, I noticed a sign alerting shoppers of a recent recall of their Matcha Green Tea Ice Cream due to “the potential presence of small metal pieces in the product.” If you’re thinking, “That’s nuts!” You’re right—although in my case, either would probably be just as harmful (I’m fatally allergic to nuts). 

The idea that some small dangerous object could be hiding in your food is not a far-flung concept for the food-allergic. If you’ve never lived with a food allergy, or cared for someone with a food allergy, it’s hard to appreciate the dangers that lurk behind seemingly innocent foods. And they often hide in the most unsuspecting places. Two such places are ice cream parlors and smoothie bars—or what UCLA pediatric allergist Dr. Maria Garcia-Lloret refers to as “allergy minefields.”

If you’ve ever been to an ice cream parlor with a food allergy, you know that the only thing separating a scoop of almond praline swirl and plain vanilla is typically a bucket of water—and for someone with a severe food allergy, that’s not going to cut it. Trace amounts of a food allergen, as low as parts-per-million levels, can be fatal for those with a severe food allergy.

These days, many popular smoothie bars offer “protein boost” health supplements, which often include tree nut and peanut powders (or other popular plant-based powders like chia seed, brown rice, hemp seed, green pea, sunflower seed, or pumpkin). These powders can have incredibly high allergen concentrations, which is to say, the slightest trace of one of these powders can trigger a severe reaction.

Dr. Garcia-Lloret, a professor of pediatric allergy at the Mattel Children's Hospital at UCLA and a pioneer in the food allergy community, has been treating food-allergic patients for nearly 20 years. Needless to say, she’s seen countless allergic reactions and anaphylactic episodes over the years. When we spoke, she offered a cautionary tale when it came to these cold summer treats. "Based on my experience, those with food allergies should be wary of ice cream parlors and smoothie bars, as they don't usually think of these types of establishments as hazardous, and they lower their guard." She also mentioned that teenagers are particularly vulnerable in these settings, noting how carefree summer outings with friends too often lead to the emergency room. 

That said, if you have a food allergy but still need your cold smoothie or ice cream fix (like me!), the most important thing you can do is know all of the ingredients present at the facility, and make sure you’re comfortable with the measures the facility takes to prevent cross-contact. Additionally, here are a few other tips:

1.     Ask the smoothie bar to use a freshly washed blender. Double-check their sanitizing process to ensure the blender has been thoroughly cleaned and there is no lingering allergen residue.

2.     Make sure the ice cream scoop has been thoroughly washed since its last use.

3.     If the person behind the counter wears gloves, ask them if they’d kindly change their gloves (or wash their hands if they’re not wearing gloves, as appropriate). Many of these establishments offer other foods as well, so this is a good way to ensure you’re avoiding cross-contact.

On the upside, many ice cream parlors and smoothie bars are becoming increasingly allergy-conscious, and are implementing more stringent protocols to accommodate those with severe food allergies. Let’s be honest, what kid (or adult) doesn’t want to participate in this classic summer pastime? If you’re now wondering, Where do I find hidden these allergy-friendly gems?! Spokin recently compiled this short list of some the nation’s most allergy-friendly ice cream parlors! Or, if you’d prefer to purchase a pint instead, check out this list of top allergy-friendly ice creams!

Wishing you all a SWEET summer!

- Abi and the Allergy Amulet Team

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I'll Take My Allergies Medium Rare

If you’ve followed Allergy Amulet lately, you know we LOVE to talk about food allergies. Recently, we discussed the phenomenon of Oral Allergy Syndrome: a typically mild allergic reaction that can occur after eating a raw fruit or vegetable. This got us thinking: What other unusual allergy phenomena are out there?

We attempt to answer just that question in this post, because allergies aren’t always as common as peanut, pollen, and pet dander. They can also include red meat, metal, and even WATER!

While rare, these allergies are just as real. Here, we break them down for you.  

1.    Red Meat

If you’re a Radiolab fan like we are, you are definitely going to want to tune in to this podcast. The podcast follows the story of a woman who developed a meat allergy from a tick bite! One bite from a Lone Star tick can cause people to develop an allergy to red meat, including beef and pork. This type of allergy has been attributed to a sugar in meat called “alpha-gal.” Individuals bitten by the tick develop antibodies against this sugar. Symptoms include congestion, rash, nausea, swelling, and even anaphylaxis. Symptoms usually manifest within 4 to 6 hours after eating red meat. That said, be sure to check for ticks if you’re hiking in THIS region of the US! Additionally, a letter recently published by researchers in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology warns that the Zoster (shingles) and MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccines have been linked to anaphylactic reactions to meat.

2.    Exercise

This type of allergy has been reported only about 1,000 times since the 1970s. Exercise-induced allergic reactions typically occur during or after exercise, and generally follow from eating certain foods beforehand. Symptoms range from a mild rash and hives to anaphylaxis. The most commonly-reported incidents of exercise-induced anaphylaxis involve wheat, shellfish, tomatoes, peanuts, and corn.

3.    Gelatin

Gelatin—a protein derived from collagen—forms when connective animal tissue or skin is boiled. Allergic reactions to gelatin are often linked to vaccines, as many contain porcine gelatin as a stabilizer. Gelatin is also found in most gummy candies, as well as in products like marshmallows and some ice creams, dips, and yogurts. If you thought you were allergic to gummy bears, it may actually be gelatin!

4.    Leather

Have you ever experienced a foot rash after wearing leather shoes? Leather probably isn’t the culprit—you’re more likely allergic to the chrome used in the tanning process. Leather allergies are generally restricted to skin rashes. Several well-known car companies actually avoid using chromium on their leather seats because of this known allergy. So if the anti-fungal powders aren’t working, and you wear leather shoes, it may be because you have a chrome allergy!

5.    Water

Water-you talking about?! Yes, there is such a thing as a water allergy. An allergy to water, or aquagenic urticaria, is very rare. There are less than 100 cases reported in medical literature. Affected individuals typically develop hives when their skin comes in contact with water, regardless of the temperature. This condition appears more commonly in women, and most often during puberty. The hives and itchiness most often appear on the neck, upper trunk, and arms, and usually go away in 15-30 minutes. Antihistamines generally help relieve symptoms.

6.    Latex

Latex allergy is most commonly diagnosed in individuals frequently exposed to latex, such as healthcare professionals. It’s estimated that less than 1% of the US population has an allergy to latex, but for those in the healthcare sector, it’s closer to 8-17%! Interestingly, a latex allergy can also produce an allergic reaction to certain foods because of cross-reactivity (check out our blog post on Oral Allergy Syndrome to learn more about this phenomenon)! Individuals with a latex allergy need to stay alert, as latex can hide in unexpected places like mattresses, root canal sealant, utensils, and spandex. 

7.    Spice

It is estimated that 2-3% of individuals live with a spice allergy. Allergies to spices such as garlic or coriander are rare and usually mild, although severe reactions have been reported. Reactions can occur from inhalation, ingestion, or touch. A spice allergy can be difficult to manage as spices are commonly used in foods, cosmetics, and dental products. For example, dentists often apply cloves to extracted wisdom teeth cavities after the operation. A good reminder to alert your dentist of all of your allergies—especially rare ones!

8.    Nickel

Nickel allergy is a common cause of contact dermatitis—an itchy rash that pops up when your skin touches a normally harmless substance. Nickel is a silvery metal that is regularly mixed with other metals to form alloys. It is most often associated with earrings and other jewelry, but can also be found in many everyday items like cell phones, chairs, zippers, coins, and eyeglass frames. It may take repeat or prolonged exposure to items containing nickel to develop an allergy. Treatment may reduce the symptoms, but once you develop a nickel allergy, you’ll always be sensitive and will need to avoid exposure.

9.    Touch

Dermographism urticaria, or “skin writing,” is a type of allergy where you can write on your skin with the pressure from your fingernail. Firm pressure on the skin creates red wheals, which may accompany itching. Dermographism affects approximately 4% of the population. It can manifest at any age, but is most common in young adults. Symptomatic dermographism is usually idiopathic (of an unknown cause), though it may have an immunologic basis in some patients. Trauma to the body may play a role as well. This type of rash typically goes away after about 15-30 minutes, and can be controlled with antihistamines. 

10. Cold

Last but not least is an allergy to cold temperatures. Yes, you read that correctly. Cold urticaria is a skin condition that manifests when the skin is exposed to low temperatures. It is most common in young adults. Symptoms are generally limited to hives; however, the severity of cold urticaria varies widely. A whole body (systemic) reaction—the more severe form—typically occurs after swimming in cold water. This can lead to low blood pressure, shock, and even death. The cause for this allergy is poorly understood. The good news is that this type of allergy generally only lasts a few years.

So, have we sufficiently scared you? Or are you now more fascinated by the human immune system than ever before? We hope it’s the latter!

-       Meg and the Allergy Amulet Team

 

Allergy Amulet advisors Dr. Jordan Scott and Dr. John Lee have reviewed this piece for accuracy. 

Dr. Scott is an allergist/immunologist and operates several private allergy clinics throughout the Boston area. He is on the board of overseers at Boston Children’s Hospital, and the past president of the Massachusetts Allergy and Asthma Society. Dr. Scott is an allergy/immunology instructor at the University of Massachusetts.

Dr. Lee is the clinical director of the food allergy program at Boston Children’s Hospital and an Instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He is also the co-creator of AllergyHome.org, a website that offers online resources to help educate and promote awareness about food allergies in schools, camps, and other settings. Dr. Lee is widely recognized for his work in the food allergy space, and his commitment to patient health.

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OAS—A Seasonal Mess?

                      Photo copyright© National Jewish Health. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

                      Photo copyright© National Jewish Health. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Ahh, summer. The season of pool parties, barbecues, gardening, and outdoor adventure. For many though, summer also means seasonal allergies. That’s right, runny noses, itchy eyes, and nasal congestion. But how about an itchy mouth?

If you’ve ever bitten into a raw apple, banana, or piece of celery and experienced an itchy mouth, you’re not alone. This reaction occurs because the proteins found in some raw fruits and vegetables are very similar to those found in plant pollen. Your body perceives these similarly structured proteins as pollen allergens – this recognition overlap is also referred to as cross-reactivity. If you’ve experienced this reaction before, you may have oral allergy syndrome (OAS). Or what Allergy Amulet allergist advisor Dr. John Lee calls: The most common allergy you don’t know you have.

So now you’re probably wondering if you’ve ever experienced OAS, right? The most common symptoms include: itchiness or swelling of the mouth, lips, face, tongue, and throat. These symptoms typically appear right after eating raw fruits or vegetables. OAS is considered a mild form of food allergy, and only in very rare instances has OAS resulted in more serious allergic reactions like anaphylaxis.

Now that we’ve defined OAS, let’s take a closer look at which common plant pollens most often cross react with which fruits and vegetables: 

It’s important to note that OAS isn’t limited to the above chart of fruits and vegetables—certain spices, legumes (peanuts and soybeans), and nuts (almonds and hazelnuts), can also bring about OAS symptoms as well.

The good news? Many people affected by OAS can eat the same fruits or vegetables when they are cooked. Heat alters the protein structure in the food so that the immune system no longer recognizes them as similar to pollen proteins. Peeling these fruits and vegetables before eating them can also stave off an OAS reaction, as these proteins are often concentrated in the skin. However, many allergists recommend avoiding the food in raw form altogether if it’s causing symptoms. Alternatively, consider eating canned versions of these nutritious favorites if you can’t resist them, as processing helps destroy the proteins typically involved in OAS.

If you've experienced OAS symptoms after eating a raw fruit or vegetable, it’s wise to talk to your health care provider or allergist. Because standard food allergen tests (skin prick or blood test) often come back negative for people with OAS, a diagnosis is often made when these traditional tests are coupled with a history of OAS symptoms. Some allergists perform what’s referred to as a “fresh prick by prick” test. This entails pricking the raw fruit or vegetable with a skin prick testing device and then pricking the skin of the patient. This test is generally more accurate because the proteins in raw fruits and vegetables are often not as processed as allergy extracts, which are commonly used in traditional skin prick tests.  

Fascinating.

If you have any questions about OAS, let us know! We’re always up for a good allergy chat.

- Meg and the Allergy Amulet Team

 

Allergy Amulet advisors Dr. Jordan Scott and Dr. John Lee have reviewed this piece for accuracy. 

Dr. Scott is an allergist/immunologist and operates several private allergy clinics throughout the Boston area. He is on the board of overseers at Boston Children’s Hospital, and the past president of the Massachusetts Allergy and Asthma Society. Dr. Scott is an allergy/immunology instructor at the University of Massachusetts.

Dr. Lee is the clinical director of the food allergy program at Boston Children’s Hospital and an Instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He is also the co-creator of AllergyHome.org, a website that offers online resources to help educate and promote awareness about food allergies in schools, camps, and other settings. Dr. Lee is widely recognized for his work in the food allergy space, and his commitment to patient health.

 

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Is Monsanto Giving Us Food Allergies?

On a recent late afternoon walk with my dog, I noticed signs scattered around our local park alerting passersby that the grounds had recently been sprayed with pesticides. Out of caution, I picked up the tennis ball we’d been playing fetch with and rinsed my pup off in the shower when we got home.

Before you brand me a worrywart, hear me out.  

On some level, we all know that pesticides and herbicides are bad for human and environmental health. The question is, how bad? How harmful could they be? If they were really harmful to human health, surely the EPA would ban them from entering the market, right?

Unfortunately, that’s not quite how it works. You see, it’s pretty widely accepted that our nation’s laws regulating chemicals and pesticides—most of which were passed in the 1970s—are sorely outdated and in need of a modern makeover. Studies show that pesticides and herbicides in use today present varying degrees of carcinogenicity and harm to the immune system and microbiome. If you read our blog post on gut health from a few weeks back, it makes you wonder: Are pesticides and herbicides giving us food allergies and intolerances? Studies show a correlation. 

In our latest blog post, we discuss some of the leading theories surrounding the rise in food allergies and intolerances. In the past two decades, food allergies have skyrocketed. Today, 1 in 13 kids has a food allergy, leaving many dumbfounded and searching for answers. One of the prevailing theories is the rise of chemicals in our food system.

Since the 1990s, herbicide use in the US has doubled from 62 to 128 million pounds annually. Pesticide application currently stands at over 1 billion pounds in the US each year, a marked increase from decades prior. One of the culprits may be Monsanto's Roundup—the second most commonly used weed killer in the US. In addition to being the recent subject of a class action lawsuit based on evidence linking this common weed killer to Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, it has also been tied to celiac disease and gluten intolerance. Glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup, is not only considered largely responsible for decimating the nation’s monarch butterfly population, but has also been shown to cause gut dysbiosis and harm the small intestine, which scientists are saying may explain the rise in celiac disease and gluten intolerance. Yikes.

Unlike other places in the world, the US takes an “innocent until proven guilty” approach to chemical regulation. We’re a pretty reactionary (as opposed to precautionary) society. For example, while the World Health Organization considers glyphosate "probably carcinogenic to humans," the US EPA alternatively has found glyphosate "not likely to be carcinogenic to humans."

Curious.

Each year, we pour billions of dollars into cancer research, new drug development, and the search for cures. And we should continue this effort! But is it possible that we are focusing too heavily on human bandages without also identifying and eliminating the sharp objects inflicting the wounds?

That same evening, after returning from my walk, severe thunderstorms swept through my neighborhood. The pesticides applied earlier that day likely drained into the abutting lake. The same lake that children swim in and dogs lap water from. It makes you wonder: What if the cure to food allergies, celiac disease, cancer, and so many of our nation’s health ailments isn’t something new we need to discover, but rather something we need to ban? Something we need to forget we ever discovered.  

 

Our CEO, Abigail Barnes, holds a Master’s of Environmental Management from Yale University and a JD from Vermont Law School. She previously worked in the toxic torts division of a plaintiff’s law firm that collaborated with Erin Brockovich to identify potential environmental lawsuits. As a result, she often thinks about the intersection of health and the environment. 

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Food Allergies Today: An Expert Q & A

There are many unknowns in the food allergy world today. Why are food allergies on the rise? What can I do to prevent my child from developing a food allergy? How do I find out if I have a food allergy or intolerance, or if my child has one? With the help of two of our medical advisors, Dr. Jordan Scott and Dr. John Lee, we have answered some of these common food allergy questions to help you dine with confidence! Let’s get started.

1) What is a food allergy and how does it differ from a food intolerance?

A food allergy is an immune system reaction. Your immune system is comprised of five different types of immunoglobulins/antibodies (IgA, IgD, IgE, IgG, and IgM). If you have a food allergy, IgE is the responsive antibody. When exposed to a food allergen, IgE attaches to the allergen, mistaking it as a foreign intruder. This IgE-allergen compound then binds to immune cells, triggering a release of histamine and other chemicals that produce an allergic reaction. Symptoms can affect the central nervous, respiratory, and gastrointestinal systems, and produce epidermal symptoms such as hives, rashes, or eczema. In the most extreme cases, a food-allergic reaction produces anaphylaxis, a life-threatening response that requires immediate medical treatment.

Food intolerances often affect gastrointestinal function, but they can also impact the central nervous system, respiratory health, and skin. The main difference between a food allergy and intolerance is that, although intolerance symptoms can be severe, they are not life threatening and will not produce anaphylaxis.

2) What are the leading theories for the significant increase in food allergies? 

Between 1997 and 2011, food allergies among children increased approximately 50 percent, according to the CDC. Unfortunately, there is no clear answer as to why. Below are some of the leading theories, in no particular order.

Theory One: Changes in our food system

Over the past few decades, our agricultural system has undergone a considerable transformation, including the introduction of GMOs (genetically modified organisms), increased pesticide application, and the addition of numerous chemicals to our foods. This theory suggests that these chemicals and modified foods are affecting our bodies and immune systems, particularly our gut health, thereby increasing our susceptibility to food allergies and intolerances.

Theory Two: Hygiene hypothesis

The second theory is the “hygiene hypothesis,” suggesting that our modern world is too clean, and our reduced exposure to bacteria is weakening our immune systems. Some research also suggests that the overuse of antibiotics in animals and the rise of prescription medication is killing the good bacteria in our gut alongside the bad.

Theory Three: Epigenetics

Some research indicates epigenetics are responsible for the rapid increase in food allergies—heritable changes in gene expression that don’t change the underlying DNA sequence. Epigenetic changes can be the product of environmental or other external factors, like diet or smoking, or the result of natural occurrence. Research is continuing to uncover the role of epigenetics in a variety of human disorders and fatal diseases.

Theory Four: Delayed allergen exposure

In the past few years, a growing body of research is suggesting that we may not be introducing children early enough to common allergens. In February 2015, the LEAP Study results came out, debunking the previously accepted practice of discouraging exposure to peanut among high-risk infants. This misguided approach may have contributed to the rise of peanut allergies and other food allergies.

3) What are the current methods for diagnosing a food allergy? How have they changed in the past several years? 

To diagnose a food allergy, an allergist performs one of two tests (or both): a blood test (such as an ImmunoCAP test) and/or a skin prick test. The blood test measures the level of allergen-specific IgE antibodies present in the blood. Skin prick tests are exactly as they sound: the allergists pricks the patient’s arm or back with a sterile small probe containing a tiny amount of the food allergen. A food allergy diagnosis is confirmed if a wheal (a raised white bump surrounded by a small circle of red irritated skin) develops around the contact area.

In some cases, an allergist may suggest a food elimination diet to pinpoint the offending food. They may also recommend an oral food challenge.

In an oral food challenge, an allergist administers tiny amounts of the potential allergen in gradually increasing doses over a set period of time (usually 1-3 hours). The patient is closely monitored in the event the food produces an allergic reaction, and epinephrine is always on hand in case of a reaction.

To date, oral food challenges are considered the gold standard for food allergy diagnosis. Skin prick and blood tests aid in diagnosis, but they are prone to error—false positives are not uncommon. For this reason, many allergists avoid blanket food allergy screening, and carefully choose which foods to test. Skin prick tests and blood tests have been standard practice for aiding in allergy diagnosis for the past two decades.

4) What are some common allergic reaction symptoms?

It’s first important to note that no two allergic reactions are the same, and just because you have a mild reaction to a small bit of sesame one day, doesn’t mean symptoms will present in the same way the next time you ingest that same small amount. Below are the most common symptoms to an allergic reaction.  

Mild symptoms include: itchy or runny nose, sneezing, itchy mouth, a few hives or mild itch, and mild nausea or discomfort.

Severe symptoms include: shortness of breath, wheezing, repetitive cough, pale or bluish skin, faintness, weak pulse, dizziness, tight or hoarse throat, trouble breathing or swallowing, significant swelling of the tongue or lips, hives or widespread redness, repetitive vomiting or severe diarrhea, anxiety or confusion, or some combination thereof.

It’s important that food-allergic individuals also be aware of biphasic anaphylaxis. A biphasic allergic reaction is a second episode of anaphylaxes that typically occurs within the first several hours after the initial anaphylactic event. The symptoms of biphasic anaphylaxis can be more severe than the initial reaction. Due to the risk of biphasic anaphylaxis, a doctor may require that you remain in the hospital for several hours after an anaphylactic event for monitoring.

5) What are the most common misconceptions about food allergies? 

There are several misconceptions about food allergies. Below are a few that we hear most frequently:

Food allergies aren’t real—False. Food allergies are real. They are a response to the body’s immune system upon exposure to an allergen. The immune system misinterprets the food as a harmful invader and releases histamine and other chemicals to protect the body from perceived harm.

Food allergies aren’t life threatening—False. If an allergic reaction becomes severe, it can lead to anaphylaxis—a potentially fatal allergic reaction that involves the rapid onset of swelling which can obstruct air passageways. Symptoms of an allergic reaction may be isolated to one major system in the body (e.g., wheezing or difficulty breathing), or can involve multiple systems (e.g., lungs, heart, throat, mouth, skin, or gut), and typically present within minutes after a person ingests the offending food.

Each allergic reaction becomes increasingly worse—Not necessarily. Allergic reactions can be unpredictable. The severity of a reaction is based on a number of factors, including: the amount of the allergenic food ingested, the person’s degree of sensitivity to that food, if exercise is involved, if they are sick, if alcohol is present in their body, and if certain medications are being used (for example, NSAIDS may increase the severity of a reaction). A person with food allergies might not always experience the same symptoms each time.

A food can be made less allergenic by cooking it—Partially true. Because a food allergy is an immune system response to a protein in a food, the protein remains in the food during heating, so it cannot be cooked out. The exception to this rule is sometimes seen in highly processed foods, and with milk and egg allergies—some people are able to consume these foods after heating, such as baked goods. Ask your allergist before trying this at home.

Adults don’t develop food allergies—False. Though most food allergies start in childhood, they can develop at any age.

Peanuts are the only food that cause severe reactions—False. While peanuts are the leading trigger of food-related anaphylaxis, any food can elicit a severe reaction—other common foods include seafood, milk, wheat, eggs, and sesame seeds.

One small bite is ok—If someone has a severe food allergy, and is highly sensitive to small amounts, even a tiny bite can trigger anaphylaxis. It is well documented that allergic individuals can experience severe reactions to trace amounts of an allergen in their food.

6) What are the three most important things a food-allergic individual can communicate to their friends, family, and co-workers?

First, alert your “tribe” (friends, family, work colleagues, caregivers) of your food allergies and their accompanying health risk. Also note the various ways you can be exposed (e.g., ingestion, touch, and inhalation).

Second, let them know what symptoms to watch for in case of a reaction.

Finally, tell them where you keep your emergency medications and teach them how to use an epinephrine auto-injector. Share your doctor-provided food allergy action plan, if you have one. Often parents with food-allergic children have one to serve as a guide for caregivers. The American Academy of Pediatrics recently published a customizable Allergy and Anaphylaxis Emergency Plan.

7) What role do you see technology playing in the lives of individuals with food allergies and how they manage them now, and in future? 

Food allergies have increased at an alarming rate over the past two decades. The silver lining is that we’re putting more research dollars and efforts into allergy education, management, and prevention. Numerous start-ups are spearheading this effort with cutting-edge technologies and innovation. This Spokin article published in January highlights several. Until we find a cure, technology is going to become a necessary part of how we manage food allergies.

8) What will be important for future food allergy diagnoses and treatment?

With food allergy diagnoses at an all-time high, it will become increasingly important to have improved diagnostic tools available to better understand who is at risk for severe reactions. New therapies to help people better manage their allergies are being developed every day. One example is oral immunotherapy, or OIT. OIT is a method of food desensitization that involves re-introducing the immune system to the allergenic food via oral ingestion in gradually increasing amounts over time, with the goal of eventual tolerance. Another example is the Viaskin® patch, otherwise known as the peanut patch. This approach uses epicutaneous immunotherapy. After applying the patch to your skin, the allergen is concentrated in the top layers of the skin, where it activates the immune system by targeting antigen-presenting cells without passage of the antigen into the bloodstream. The peanut patch recently entered Phase III clinical trials. Products are also currently being developed for milk and egg.

Is desensitization the future of food allergies? Or is a cure on the horizon? Only time will tell. Until then, innovation, research, heightened awareness, and education are paving the way for a brighter food allergy future.

If you have additional questions you’d like our experts to answer, please send them to Meg at mnohe@allergyamulet.com. We’d love to hear from you!

- The Allergy Amulet Team

 

These questions, and their corresponding responses, were written by the Allergy Amulet team and reviewed by Allergy Amulet advisors, Dr. Jordan Scott and Dr. John Lee.

Dr. Scott is an allergist/immunologist and operates several private allergy clinics throughout the Boston area. He is on the board of overseers at Boston Children’s Hospital, and the past president of the Massachusetts Allergy and Asthma Society. Dr. Scott is an allergy/immunology instructor at the University of Massachusetts.

Dr. Lee is the clinical director of the food allergy program at Boston Children’s Hospital. Dr. Lee is widely recognized for his work in food allergy, and his commitment to patient health.

 

 

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