Refinery29: 6 essential oils that might help soothe your allergies

6 Essential Oils That Might Help Soothe Your Allergies


JUNE 11, 2018, 12:40 PM

If you don't already use essential oils to relax and decompress, chances are, you're likely using them in some form or another, whether it's the tea tree oil in your face wash or the lavender oil in your bath bomb. What you might not know, however, is that they could help calm your allergy symptoms.

Maeve O'Connor, MD, an allergist and spokesperson for the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, says that while there isn't a ton of hard evidence that essential oils really work for allergies, there's some anecdotal evidence — and a lot of research being conducted — that they might be helpful. Whether you put them into a diffuser, dab them onto your wrists, or spill a few drops onto your pillow, Dr. O'Connor says they have some aromatherapy benefits that could be useful for allergies.

"Aromatherapy works by stimulating smell receptors in the nose, sending messages via the nervous system to a part of the brain that controls emotions, making some people calmer, less anxious, and relaxed," she says.

Still, Dr. O'Connor says, essential oils don't work for everyone, and when used the wrong way, they could have some seriously harmful effects. Some people might even be allergic to the oils themselves, and allergic reactions can cause rashes, hives, and wheezing after exposure.

"Improper use of essential oils can cause burns, headaches, nausea, hormonal imbalances, and some are toxic if ingested," Dr. O'Connor says, adding that she advises against using high doses of essential oils over a long period of time, especially in children.

"The best defense against seasonal allergies is to see a board-certified allergist," she says. "An allergist can treat more than just symptoms, identify the source of your suffering and develop a treatment plan to eliminate symptoms."

If you want to try essential oils for your stuffy and itchy nose, definitely check with your doctor first. With allergy season getting worse than ever, we're going to need all the help we can get. Read on for six essential oils that might make your allergy symptoms a little less miserable.

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Dr. O'Connor says that eucalyptus has been used for centuries to help with breathing issues, and might help when you're feeling a little stuffy.

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Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil, on the other hand, could help with any mold or fungi allergies.

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Aside from being a great sleep aid, chamomile can help respiratory symptoms associated with allergies, like congestion or wheezing.

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Lemon Balm

Dr. O'Connor says that nasal sprays with lemon balm in them can be an alternative to medicinal treatments for seasonal and long-term allergies.

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Peppermint oil, Dr. O'Connor says, has menthol ingredients (the mint part of the peppermint) that might reduce inflammation and treat a reaction to pollen, trees, or grasses during the height of allergy season.

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Because it has anti-inflammatory and mood stabilizing benefits, Dr. O'Connor says it could help anyone who needs urgent allergy symptom relief.

U.S. News & World Report: How a tick can make you allergic to red meat

How a Tick Can Make You Allergic to Red Meat

Symptoms can range from hives and swelling to vomiting and life-threatening anaphylaxis. 

By Michael Blaiss, M.D., Contributor June 15, 2018, at 6:00 a.m. 

One of the strangest conditions triggered by a tick bite is an allergy to red meats.

TICKS CAN CAUSE LOTS OF different diseases in people – Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Lyme disease, Tularemia and many others. One of the strangest conditions triggered by a tick bite is an allergy to red meats, including beef, pork, venison and lamb. Very rarely, people with this allergy also react to cow's milk and gelatins found in some medications. You know what else is really strange about tick bites leading to red meat allergy? Symptoms can range from hives, swelling, wheezing, nausea and vomiting all the way to life-threatening anaphylaxis. Sometimes anaphylaxis doesn't start until three to eight hours after eating the food you're allergic to. In other food allergies, like peanuts or shellfish, allergy symptoms happen within a few minutes. 

[Read: How Do I Find the Best Allergist?]

The Lone Star tick, named for markings on its back resembling the state of Texas, commonly bites animals and humans. As our climate changes, these ticks aren't just found in the southern part of the United States, but all the way up north to Maine and into the Midwest through Iowa. If the Lone Star tick bites a cow or other mammal, the tick takes in a unique sugar from that animal called alpha-1, 3-galactose, usually shortened to alpha-gal. Then when the tick bites a person, the sugar is transferred and triggers the person's immune system to develop an allergy to meats containing that sugar. More and more cases of alpha-gal allergy are being reported as these ticks continue to spread in the United States. 

There is no cure for the allergy. Everyone with this condition should avoid red meat and carry an epinephrine auto-injector in case they accidentally eat meat or order a dish in a restaurant that's been contaminated by meat. The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology recommends anyone at risk for anaphylaxis always carry two epinephrine auto-injectors. Some people with this condition may lose the allergy over time if they're not re-infected by another tick bite. 

[Read: How to Protect Yourself Against the Threat of Ticks.]

What can you do to prevent alpha-gal allergy? Avoid ticks. If you're outdoors in a wooded area, spray your clothing and gear with products containing 0.5 percent permethrin. Use Environmental Protection Agency-registered insect repellents, like DEET. Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter, as they can contain ticks. And stay in the center of trails. After you come back indoors, check your body and clothing for ticks and shower as soon as you can. 

[See: 8 Surprising Facts About Asthma and Seasonal Allergies.]

What should you do if you suspect you have alpha-gal sensitivity? Remember that it can be a life-threatening condition. See a board-certified allergist who can evaluate you with testing to determine whether you have this strange allergy.

10 (Mostly) Natural Ways to Evade Mosquitoes


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Michael Blaiss, M.D. , Contributor

Michael Blaiss, MD, is a clinical professor of pediatrics at Medical College of Georgia in Augu... READ MORE  »

Tags: patientspatient adviceinsectsallergiesanaphylactic shock

Bustle: 9 health issues that are more common in the summer

9 Health Issues That Are More Common In The Summer


For most of us, summer is all about having fun, finding time to relax in the sun, and enjoying the outdoors before winter creeps back up on us. While warm weather and sunshine tends to have a mood-boosting effect on the majority of people, there are certain health issues that are more common in the summer that the change of seasons can usher in. 

Given the hot weather, and the surplus of time spent enjoying outdoor activities — especially in the water — there are certain infections and illnesses you are more prone to contracting than during the colder seasons. Not to mention, tick, flea, and mosquito season are all in full swing throughout the summer months, and all three of these pesky creatures can transmit viruses to people. This doesn't mean you should spend all of June and July cooped up inside, of course. But rather, you can be aware of the health concerns that tend to spike in the summertime. 

Fortunately, most of the health issues that commonly arise and increase in frequency during the warmer months are preventable to a certain degree. So, here are nine illnesses that are more common in the summer, and steps you can take to prevent yourself from coming down with one of them, or getting sick. 

1 Heatstroke

When the temperature and humidity levels rise, there is greater chance you can get heatstroke — a medical condition that can make your core body temperature rise, and cause nausea, severe headaches, confusion, rapid breathing, and more. Though lounging too long in the sun is a surefire way to get heatstroke (sometimes called sunstroke), you can also get heatstroke when working indoors in extreme temperatures.

2 Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is a tick-borne, inflammatory illness that around 300,000 people in the U.S. contract every year. It can cause a rash, flu-like symptoms, joint pain, and fatigue in the first few week after an infected tick bites you. It's treatable with antibiotics if caught early, however, the American Lyme Disease Foundation (ALDF) reports if the illness progresses without medical treatment, it can lead to severe headaches, arthritis, cardiac issues, and even neurological disorders. 

According to research surrounding the seasonality of Lyme disease, "approximately two-thirds of [Lyme Disease] cases from 1992 to 2006 had a reported onset date in June, July, or August." Meaning, it's super important to use a tick repellent on yourself (and your pets!), when spending time outdoors during the summer months, as well as check yourself for ticks.

3 Food Poisoning

A 2017 report from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) found that rates of foodborne illness peak during the summer, when it is between 90 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit — the perfect weather conditions for bacteria to grow on food products. Symptoms of food poisoning typically include vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, a fever, and headaches. They symptoms can range from mild to severe; food poisoning will usually pass on its own at home, but in some cases, it may be serious enough that you should seek medical attention. Make sure, especially in hot weather, to refrigerate any food that can possibly spoil right away. 

4 Allergies

The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI) says that "pollen, mold and insect stings are common allergy culprits during the summer months." If you know you have allergies that spike in the summer, make sure to have your prescribed medications on-hand when you go outside, and invest in a couple products that help ease your allergy symptoms

5 Sunburn

You may not think of sunburn as a serious medical issue, but Reuters reported that 11.2 million dollars were spent on sunburn-related injuries in the U.S., in 2013 alone. Sunburn can actually cause second-degree burns, leading to extremely painful blistering. So please, please be certain to load up on the SPF! There are even sunscreens made for people with sensitive skin, so try to always put some on before you spend time in the sun. 

6 Waterborne Diseases

Who doesn't like to take a dip in the lake, or splash around at the beach during warmer months? Though it may be part of the summer fun, it's important to be aware that there are many waterborne illnesses you can contract. According to a 2017 study published in the American Family Physician, algae, bacteria, chlorine gas, parasites, bacteria can lead to gastrointestinal infections, like colitis. Further, the study found waterborne agents can also cause respiratory illnesses, as well as soft tissue conditions

7 Poisonous Plant Rashes

Everything is in full bloom during the summer — including plants that are poisonous to humans and animals alike. As Healthline reported, poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac all have an oil in their leaves called urushiol that's responsible for the painful and blistery rash these plants can leave you with if you come into contact with them. Worst yet, a poison ivy rash can last up to eight weeks. If you are planning to spend time outdoors in areas these plants are native to, be sure to wear long pants or a barrier cream. And, be sure to bathe your pets that regularly go outside, so you don't catch it from them!

8 West Nile Virus

Ticks aren't the only bugs carrying illnesses you need to worry about. Insects like mosquitoes carry many vector-borne diseases — including the West Nile virus. Though people who catch the virus usually experience mild flu symptoms, it can, in extreme cases cause inflammation in the brain and surrounding tissues. According to a map from the CDC, last updated in February 2018, every U.S. state (with the exception of Maine) had cases of people infected with the West Nile virus. Considering summer is the height of mosquito season, be sure to protect yourself from mosquitoes however you can to reduce your risk of catching any viruses. 

9 Athlete's Foot

The College of Podiatry explains that athlete's foot is a "fungal infection of the skin that can lead to intense itching, cracked, blistered or peeling areas of skin, redness and scaling." Since this fungal infection thrives in wet conditions, summer is a prime time to catch it. Pool decks, locker rooms, saunas, and wearing flip flops in public places are all major culprits in spreading athlete's foot Athlete's foot is easy to avoid: Just be sure to wear shoes in places where athlete's foot is common, wash your feet daily, and keep your feet dry. 

Keep your health on the up-and-up throughout the summer months by simply being aware of the risks when you're hanging outdoors, in the pool, or in the sun.

Medscape: Hay fever puts heavy disease burden on adolescents

Hay Fever Puts Heavy Disease Burden on Adolescents

By Rita Buckley

June 07, 2018

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Hay fever, with or without eye allergies, has a significant impact on quality of life in adolescents and may limit daily activities and functioning, a new literature review suggests.

"Adolescents aren't 'big children' or 'small adults.' They have very specific needs, and allergists can help relieve symptoms that cause suffering," lead author Dr. Michael Blaiss from the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University said in a statement.

Dr. Blaiss and colleagues searched English-language journal articles from 2002 to 2017 for non-interventional, population-based studies on the burden of allergic rhinitis and allergic rhinoconjunctivitis in adolescents ages 10 to 19.

As reported in Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, online April 4, they identified 27 studies examining the effects of hay fever and hay fever with eye allergies in adolescents. The studies were mainly cross-sectional and involved administration of study-specific questionnaires, validated International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) questionnaires (or modified ISAAC questionnaires), and validated QOL instruments.

The most bothersome allergic rhinitis symptoms were rhinorrhea, nasal congestion and itchy eyes, researchers found. QOL was worse in adolescents with the condition versus controls, regardless of which QOL instrument was used.

Nasal symptoms were more often associated with poor QOL in adolescents than in adults or younger children. Likewise, nasal obstruction had a bigger impact on QOL in adolescents than in younger children.

Allergic rhinitis also had a negative impact on daily functioning and sleep, and a detrimental effect on school attendance, productivity and academic performance.

"These findings should raise awareness and acuity on the effects that allergic rhinitis and allergic rhinoconjunctivitis can have on adolescent patients for whom the symptoms may generally be considered trivial or inconsequential," Dr. Sigrid Payne DaVeiga, co-director of the Pulmonary Allergy Problematic Asthma Clinic at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, told Reuters Health by email.

"These conditions can have a substantial impact on well-being, school performance, and quality of life for adolescent patients," said Dr. Payne DaVeiga, who was not involved in the study.

She noted the congruity of findings from across the world and said that the data on a high emotional burden was "particularly noteworthy."

Dr. Blaiss agreed. "Most studies put adolescents in with children, yet we know that how disease affects them may be dramatically different. Adolescence is a difficult time even without a chronic condition," he told Reuters Health by email.

For adolescents, allergic rhinitis is "not just a nuisance," he said. "It can lead to sleep disturbances and affect school performance and academic achievement."

Dr. Blaiss stressed the importance of taking these effects into account when treating the condition. "We need to understand how allergic rhinitis can affect sleep and school performance," he said, "and make sure to use disease-modifying agents that are not impairing, such as allergen immunotherapy."

He recommends that health care providers aggressively treat adolescents with allergic rhinitis "to get the best outcomes and improve their quality of life."

Hørsholm, Denmark-based ALK-Abelló, which makes allergy medicines, funded the study. Two authors are ALK employees, and Dr. Blaiss reports financial ties to the company.


Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol 2018.

Reuters Health Information © 2018 

Cite this article: Hay Fever Puts Heavy Disease Burden on Adolescents - Medscape - Jun 06, 2018. South Side physician receives lifetime achievement award

South Side Physician Receives Lifetime Achievement Award 

Prestigious award honors Dr. Michael Foggs for contributions to the field of allergy and immunology medicine 

By Cassie Richardson, Patch Poster | Dec 11, 2017 11:21 am ET | Updated Dec 11, 2017 11:22 am ET

Dr. Michael Foggs, Chief of Allergy and Immunology for Advocate Medical Group (AMG), recently was honored with a prestigious Living Legend lifetime achievement award from the National Medical Association (NMA), the largest and oldest national organization representing African American physicians in the U.S.

The award is given to one NMA member each year, honoring their extraordinary contributions to the medical field and community leadership. Recipients exemplify leadership, service, and dedication to eradicating health disparities across the country.

"This is fitting recognition for Dr. Foggs' accomplishments and contributions to allergy and immunology medicine, as well as his dedication to advancing his field," says Vincent Bufalino, MD, president, Advocate Medical Group. "He is very deserving, and we are very proud to count Dr. Foggs as a member of our medical group."

Dr. Foggs, a Chicago resident practicing on Chicago's south side, joins Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr., cardiothoracic surgeon and inventor of the implantable cardiac defibrillator and Dr. Ben Carson, neurosurgeon and current U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, as NMA Living Legend recipients.

Recognized as one of the country's leading allergists and immunologists, Dr. Foggs helped develop the asthma guidelines for the National Institutes of Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and co-authored an NIH textbook on the subject. He has also been published in numerous peer-reviewed publications, and lead plenary lectures across the world.

Dr. Foggs served for 15 years on the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) Pulmonary-Allergy Drugs Advisory Committee, and was the recipient of the FDA Distinguished Service Award. He is the past-president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, and the American Association of Certified Allergists & Immunologists.

After receiving his bachelor's degree in biology and biochemistry from Yale University, Dr. Foggs earned his medical degree from Harvard Medical School. He completed his residency at Northwestern University Medical Center, as well as fellowship in allergy and immunology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

In his spare time, Dr. Foggs is a cartoonist, poetry writer, novelist, and entrepreneur.

Healthy Pets: Favorite household products you should pitch in the trash today

Story at-a-glance 

  • Unfortunately, these products pollute the air inside your home with chemicals that are dangerous for your pets
  • Studies have found harmful chemicals in air fresheners (all types), scented candles and incense
  • Most of the effects of these products aren’t immediately obvious and may not even manifest as respiratory issues
  • Safe, natural alternatives that freshen the air in your home include pet-safe indoor plants, an air purifier and diffusing diluted pet-safe essential oils

By Dr. Karen Shaw Becker

A whopping 75 percent of U.S. households these days use a variety of products to scent the air in their homes, including air freshener sprays, upholstery sprays, plug-ins, gels, candles and incense. Some people who use these products are trying to mask odors, while others just want to walk into a home that smells like a beautiful meadow or a pine forest after a rain shower. 

TV commercials and other advertising for air-scenting products are everywhere, sending a not-so-subliminal message that most homes stink, and fixing the problem with a vanilla-scented candle or air freshener is a harmless solution to an embarrassing problem.

Why I Never Recommend Chemical Air-Scenting Products

Unfortunately, as appealing as all of these scented products are, they also produce dangerous indoor pollutants that dramatically affect our pets. Over the past decade, scientific research has shown that many household air fresheners contain chemicals that may be harmful. 

I don't recommend using these types of products, especially if you have any type of pet in your home. Birds and cats in particular are highly sensitive to airborne toxins, but if you have any animals in the home at all, I recommend you not use these products. Studies show that children can have as much as 30 times greater exposure to indoor pollutants than adults due to their smaller size and greater activity level. Now, consider these facts: 

  • Most pets are even smaller than kids
  • They tend to spend a lot of time near the floor where all indoor air pollutants eventually wind up
  • They groom themselves and each other, which means they're ingesting the pollutant particles that have accumulated on their fur and in the environment
  • Many pets spend up to 100 percent of their time indoors, and are living with very high levels of airborne toxins 

These factors combine to put pets at the highest risk of anyone in the household for health conditions related to indoor air pollution. Even if neither you nor your pets are having symptoms, it's still possible the air fresheners in your home are harming your health. Most of the effects of these products aren't immediately obvious and may not even manifest as respiratory issues. Some people say, "If I was having a problem, my pets or I would have watery eyes. We'd be coughing or wheezing." But that's not always the case. 

Harmful Chemicals Found in Air Fresheners

Air fresheners in both aerosol sprays and plug-ins contain a number of toxic chemicals that are dangerous to your pet's health and yours, including:

• Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, such as acetone, ethanol, pinene and acetate, some of which are inherently toxic. When these substances react with the ozone in the air, they generate a range of secondary pollutants such as formaldehyde and ultrafine particles. Ultrafine particles have been linked to heart and lung disease and respiratory problems.

In fact, a 2011 news report released by the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) linked the VOCs in air fresheners with a 34 percent increase in health problems in people with asthma.1

• Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen that has been definitively linked to cancers of the nose and throat. It is also known to cause ongoing irritation of the throat and airways, potentially leading to secondary infection, nosebleeds, asthma and other respiratory ailments.

• Naphthalene has been shown to cause inflammation, but as well as tissue damage and cancer in the lungs of rodents.

• Phthalates are linked to a disruption in hormone levels, poor semen quality, birth defects and reproductive harm.

• 1,4-Dichlorobenzene (1,4-DCB) has been linked to compromised lung function and liver cancer in mice.

Harmful Substances in Scented Candles and Incense

A 2001 EPA study concluded that candles containing fragrance produce more soot. It's possible organic compounds in poor-quality candle wax may increase cancer risk.2 A 2009 study warns that the chemicals emitted into the air by burning candles can have a harmful effect on human health.3 Paraffin candles produce potentially toxic chemicals, including alkanes, alkenes and toluene.

Like air fresheners, scented candles can also contain dangerous chemicals such as formaldehyde and VOCs. Cheaply made candles can contain toxic levels of heavy metals in the wicks. When one of these candles burns, the lead particles are released into the air. Frequent use of these candles could contribute to the development of health conditions such as asthma, allergies and cancer.

Research shows that burning incense can be dangerous to human health, and a 2015 study even suggested it's much worse that inhaling cigarette smoke.4 Incense smoke is mutagenic, meaning it can cause mutations in DNA that can lead to cancer. In the 2015 study, incense was found to be more toxic to cells and DNA than cigarette smoke. Of the 65 compounds identified in incense smoke, two were determined to be highly toxic. 

Natural Alternatives to Keep Your Home Smelling Fresh

One of the best ways to freshen up the air in your home is to simply open the windows when weather allows. Also consider adding some pet-safe indoor plants. Common houseplants can help clean the air by using their natural ability to absorb toxins through their leaves and roots and turn them into nutrients. I also strongly recommend investing in an indoor air purifier, which can provide long-term benefits to both you and your pets.

To add a natural scent to your home, you can simmer some mint tea or cinnamon in water in a saucepan on the stove, or grind up a fresh orange. Or you can do what I do — I dilute and diffuse pet-safe essential oils. They smell wonderful and are nontoxic. It's a nice all-natural way to keep your home smelling fresh and clean while eliminating toxic products from your life. New hope for kids with multiple food allergies


December 12, 2017

TUESDAY, Dec. 12, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- A treatment for kids with more than one dangerous food allergy shows promise in early trials, researchers say.

Almost one-third of people with a food allergy have reactions to more than one type of food. This can increase the risk of accidental exposure and life-threatening anaphylaxis, according to researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine.

No treatment exists for multiple food allergies. Usually, patients are told to avoid the food triggers, but this requires constant attention to their diet. 

"Patients find it very hard to live with multiple food allergies," said study senior author Dr. Sharon Chinthrajah. "It puts a huge social and economic burden on families." 

In this new study, scientists combined the asthma drug omalizumab (Xolair) with immunotherapy for 48 children with more than one food allergy.

Immunotherapy exposes patients to tiny amounts of the foods that cause their allergic reactions. Gradually, the allergen dose is increased until the patient can tolerate normal amounts of the food.

Taking omalizumab appeared to speed up the desensitization process without sacrificing safety, the researchers said.

"This could be a very promising way to decrease the burden of living with food allergies," said Chinthrajah, director of clinical translational research at Stanford's Center for Allergy and Asthma Research.

Although the results are preliminary, they suggest that kids with multiple food allergies "might one day be safely desensitized to their trigger foods using this treatment combination," she said. Still, further research is needed to confirm the findings before the treatment becomes available.

The study participants were randomly assigned to receive the combined allergy treatment or a placebo. They were 4 to 15 years old and were allergic to a variety of foods, including almonds, cashews, eggs, hazelnuts, milk, peanuts, sesame, soy, walnuts and wheat.

The children received omalizumab or a placebo for eight weeks before starting immunotherapy and for eight weeks during combination treatment with immunotherapy for two to five trigger foods. The participants then continued immunotherapy without the drug for an additional 20 weeks. 

The researchers found that 83 percent of the treatment group could tolerate a small dose of two food allergens versus 33 percent who took the placebo. 

The study showed significant improvements in safety and effectiveness in multi-allergic patients treated with omalizumab and food immunotherapy, said study co-author Dr. Kari Nadeau.

"Omalizumab can help change the course of therapy by making it safer and faster," said Nadeau, a professor of medicine and of pediatrics. 

The children who received the double treatment were desensitized to their food allergies faster than those taking the placebo and had fewer digestive and breathing issues, according to the researchers. 

"Patients and families say they're so grateful. They can broaden their food variety and participate in more social activities without fear of a bad allergic reaction," Chinthrajah said.

"Kids say things like, 'I no longer sit at the allergen-free table at lunch; I can sit with my usual friends,' " Chinthrajah added. "These tiny things that others take for granted can open their social world." 

The study was published online Dec. 11 in The Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology.


The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology provides more on food allergies.

Los Angeles Times: 5 tips to keep sniffles and sneezes out of your holiday plans

With the holidays upon us, there’s a lot to look forward to: seeing old friends, eating too much, wearing ugly sweaters; the list goes on. Likewise, there are a lot of things that might make you sigh: awkward questions from your aunts, arguing about politics and of course, how you’re going to work off all that extra weight in the new year.

One question millions of Americans should keep in mind this holiday season is how to best handle their asthma and allergies. While everyone else is singing along to carols and letting their food digest, others are tearing up, coughing and going into a sneezing fit.

“People don’t realize how many hidden triggers are associated with the holidays and winter season,” said allergist Bradley Chipps, MD, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). “Those who suffer from allergies and asthma assume things will ease up once the cold weather hits, but there are other factors that can cause your allergies and asthma to flare. In fact, two-thirds of allergy sufferers have year-round triggers and symptoms.”

To help make the holidays as enjoyable as possible, here are five tips to manage your allergies this season.

An excuse to stay out of the hugging circle. There are a lot of hugs and kisses during the holidays, which can make it easy for germs and viruses to spread. Catching a cold or coming down with the flu is pretty awful, but because those illnesses make asthma and allergy symptoms even worse, those with allergies must take extra precautions. One more reason to avoid the mistletoe!

Watch out for that ... tree! For many, picking out a Christmas tree is a holiday tradition. For others, a tree can be pure misery. Mold on the tree and terpene found in the sap can trigger allergies you thought you had under control. A much better option is to use an artificial tree — just be sure to dust it off! Dust allergies can be a problem year-round.

Keep an eye on holiday treats. Holidays are about food, and people usually share the food they make. As a result, you need to be extra careful about food allergies. If you or your kids have food allergies, let your host know what ingredients should be avoided. If you are hosting, prepare food you know everyone in your clan can eat.

Your nose knows to sniff out those "pleasant" scents. People love to add those little touches to create a cozy holiday atmosphere in their homes. Unfortunately, scented candles, wood-burning fireplaces, aerosols and potpourri can trigger allergies and asthma. There are plenty of other nice touches you can add, but this year, forgo the scents!

Leave the house prepared. Whether it’s someone’s lovable dog, a co-worker wearing too much perfume or a moldy Christmas tree, many triggers exist out there. Before you leave the house, take your medications, and if your allergy and asthma symptoms worsen during the season, be sure to schedule an appointment with your allergist.

If you need help with allergies, visit to find a board-certified allergist in your area. ACAAI member-allergists are board-certified physicians trained to diagnose allergies and asthma, administer allergy shots (immunotherapy), and provide patients with the best treatment outcomes.


AARP: Can’t sleep? These potted plants in your bedroom may help

by Claire R. McIntosh, AARP,

November 16, 2017

Houseplants help remove toxins, impart a feeling of calm and promote drowsiness when used in the bedroom.

Insomnia? Allergies? Asthma? Stress? Let’s clear the air, shall we? We’ve seen the science, so here’s the secret: You’ll rest easier with potted plants in your bedroom. There are studies by NASA, which has extensively researched how plants remove VOCs (volatile organic compounds such as formaldehyde and benzene) from a space station.

There’s research done by a Japanese company to design gardens that clean the air in hospitals. And then there’s that nerdy kid who sealed cat poop into one container with plants, and moldy bread into another container with plants.

He found that, relative to control containers that had the yucky stuff but not the plants, airborne contaminants were greatly reduced hours later. We wouldn’t bother mention his study but his coauthor was a nurse practitioner who worked in dad’s allergy clinic, and the physician later shared the results with colleagues at the annual meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

Not only do certain houseplants help remove toxins, impart a feeling of calm and promote drowsiness, they’re also a Pinterest-pretty way to boost your boudoir style! Don’t you just love how the hanging plants, macramé and rattan planters and glass terrariums we all had in our first apartments are currently trending on Etsy? Cultivate these horticultural hacks and you can rest easy.


Researchers in Germany tested the scent of jasmine on lab mice and watched them curl up in a corner and chill. The plant affects the same key neurotransmitter that makes us mellow out after a dose of valium — and was found to be just as potent as psychotropic drugs in a clinical setting. Jasmine fragrance produces the molecular mechanism also triggered by barbituates to soothe, ease anxiety and promote sleep. Even better, let the fragrance of a potted jasmine waft through your bedroom tonight and you may avoid tomorrow’s afternoon slump.


You’ve heard of swallowing this as a supplement or tea for restful sleep. Well, some Japanese neuroscientists learned that sniffing it helps too. While valerian is generally cultivated outside, follow these tips for green-thumbing it indoors.


Remember the kid, the moldy bread and the cat poop? Mold and pet feces are common household allergens, and English ivy is what cleared the air. Who can sleep when you’re sneezin’ and wheezin’? NASA scientists give it the nod, too. So if you want to nod off, let some English ivy trail down your nightstand.


Five sleep researchers in Osaka. Twenty-one tossing and turning men. Six weeks. One compound derived from gardenias. Countless Zzzzzzzs. Zero side effects. You know what we love? This bedside-table perfect bonsai version from Harry and David.


Of course, you knew this, because your mother kept lavender sachets in the drawer with her nightgowns. You want to sleep like a baby? Think lavender bouquet by the bed, essential oil on your pillow or added to your bedtime bath. Moms who bathed their babies in lavender smiled more, were less stressed and touched their babies more in the bath. The babies cried less, made more eye contact and had longer periods of deep sleep. Cortisol levels dropped in both moms and infants. Yes, please!


It vacuums up those VOCs while you catch your Zzzzs, say NASA scientists.


Remember back in the '80s when yuppie watering holes were called "fern bars" because of this ubiquitous decoration? Turns out, this plant drinks up formaldehyde from the air. Here’s to your health.


No green thumb? If you can’t keep this easy-care plant alive, you might as well give up and buy an air purifier.


Inquisitr: Boy with dairy allergies dies after school employee allegedly feeds him grilled cheese

NOVEMBER 9, 2017 



A preschool in New York City is under investigation after a 3-year-old boy died after he reportedly had an allergic reaction to a grilled cheese sandwich he was served for lunch. ABC reports that an employee at the Seventh Avenue Center for Family Servicein Harlem served the toddler the sandwich last week, allegedly ignoring school records that documented that the toddler was severely allergic to dairy products.

The report states that the New York City Fire Department has confirmed 911 was not called when the toddler, named Elijah, had a severe allergic reaction to the sandwich. Instead, one of the employees is said to have called the boy’s mother and she transported him to the hospital after she arrived at the preschool.

According to a statement on the GoFundMe account set up to help Elijah’s family, the little boy “went into anaphylactic shock” after he was served the sandwich. After his mother, Dina, arrived at the school, the boy’s mother transported him to the Pediatric ER at Harlem Hospital where he later died.

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, between 2 and 3 percent of children ages 3 and under are allergic to milk and other dairy products. Symptoms range from hives, upset stomach, and/or vomiting to anaphylaxis, a condition that impairs breathing and can cause the body to go into shock.

To date, Elijah’s GoFundMe has collected close to $30,000. In addition to using the money for a funeral and other expenses, some of the donated money will be used to pay for a second autopsy to help the boy’s parents determine who is ultimately responsible for his death. According to PBS, the fee for an independent autopsy can cost between $3,000 and $5,000, with additional fees often charged for transporting the body to an autopsy facility.

“At this moment, it is unclear where responsibility for Elijah’s death will fall between the pre-k and the hospital itself,” a statement on the GoFundMe page reads. “We want to find out exactly what caused Elijah’s death and that will mean sorting out exactly where, if any, breakdowns may have occurred at either the school or the hospital. Having a third party medical examination will ensure our ability to get a clear picture. We just want justice for Elijah.”

Toddler with dairy allergies dies after eating grilled cheese [Image by chokkicx/iStock]

A spokesman for the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene tells ABC News that the Seventh Avenue Center for Family Service, where the incident took place, is currently closed as they “aggressively investigate” the boy’s death.

Elijah leaves behind his parents, Thomas and Dina, and his 5-year-old brother, Sebastian.