Cooking Light: Food allergies vs. intolerances: what’s the difference?

The two terms tend to be used interchangeably, but knowing how they differ can help you manage your symptoms, prevent potential nutrient deficiencies, get the right treatment, and feel your best.

JESSICA MIGALA October 26, 2018

When your body misfires against seemingly innocent foods, could it be the start of a food allergy or an intolerance?

In a time when gluten-free options grace menus, schools are nut-free zones, and people boast about their dairy-free diets, we’re more aware than ever about food allergies and intolerances. But they are two very distinct conditions.

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“A food allergy is an immune response where the body produces antibodies called IgE in response to a particular protein in the food,” explains Georgiana Sanders, MD, an associate professor at the University of Michigan Mary H. Weiser Food Allergy Center. The body attacks these typically harmless proteins, triggering an allergic reaction, which can appear within seconds or hours of exposure. To be diagnosed, you must exhibit symptoms such as hives; wheezing; runny nose; itchy eyes; or lip, throat, or tongue swelling; plus a positive blood test or skin prick showing the presence of antibodies. 

Fifteen million Americans have food allergies, and 9 million of those are adults. And it’s not your imagination: Allergies are on the rise in children and adults. Food allergies in kids spiked by 50% between 1997 and 2011, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Preliminary research presented in 2017 at the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology found that 45% of adults with food allergies develop them in adulthood, most commonly to shellfish and tree nuts. There are two plausible theories to explain this increase in food allergies: the hygiene hypothesis (in essence, we live in a too-sterile environment), and the idea that delaying introducing certain foods to infants (particularly peanuts) may prevent budding immune systems from maturing properly.  

A food intolerance (also called a sensitivity) occurs when you have difficulty digesting a food, leading to gas, abdominal discomfort, or diarrhea, but there’s no immune reaction or antibodies produced. The most common intolerances are to lactose (a sugar found in milk), gluten (a protein found in wheat), and certain complex carbohydrates (from beans and cabbage). It’s best to talk to your doctor if you suspect a specific food is routinely causing digestive woes. Avoiding foods unnecessarily can lead to a nutrient shortfall in your diet, particularly if you remove multiple foods in a blind effort to heal symptoms. If you do have to steer clear of a type of food—for instance, dairy—a dietitian can help you plan your diet so that you’re getting other sources of calcium and vitamin D (like fortified nut milk).

What Kind of Tests Can I Take to Tell If I Have a Food Allergy or Intolerance?

Uncovering allergies and intolerances isn’t as cut-and-dried as it appears. Here are the tests to try and to skip when it comes to finding out what’s going on inside.

IgE antibody test 
The gold standard for allergy testing, but false positives are common. Or antibodies show up after you eat a food, but there are no symptoms (thus it’s not an allergy)—this could be the body reacting to factors like pollen.

Skin Testing
A common test that involves injecting the skin with a tiny bit of the allergen. Positive reactions will appear as a “wheal and flare” (a raised red area) that’s bigger than a control prick of saltwater.

At-Home Testing 
You can buy kits online that claim to provide insight on which foods trigger allergies or intolerances, but these tests have not been proven to be effective, says Sanders, and may lead you to eliminate foods unnecessarily.

Medical History
There are few tests to pinpoint specific intolerances (one such test is a hydrogen breath test for lactose intolerance); it’s more likely your doctor will make a diagnosis based on a medical history of your symptoms.

Food Elimination
If you suspect an intolerance, your doctor may suggest eliminating the suspected foods for six weeks. Add one food back per week, and record any symptoms you experience to reveal any telling patterns. 

Is Avoiding Food the Only Way?

You love lattes, but sometimes they give you tummy troubles. Other times eating in-season fruit makes your lips itch. Here’s what you need to do to stay symptom-free.

The only way to “treat” a food allergy is to avoid the offending food. But cross-contamination or unknowing consumption can make this hard. Each year, 200,000 people in the U.S. need emergency medical care for allergic reactions, according to Food Allergy Research & Education. As a result, most medical experts suggest that people with allergies carry epinephrine pens.

For intolerances, you may have more leeway when it comes to avoiding woes. If you’re lactose intolerant, you may be able to handle small amounts of milk or eat other dairy that contains less lactose, like hard cheeses and yogurt. A lactase tablet may also help.

If your mouth itches or your throat is scratchy after eating certain raw produce like apples, peaches, and zucchini, you may have what’s called oral allergy syndrome, a condition where your body has an allergic reaction to the pollens in foods. It can pop up in adulthood and typically occurs along with seasonal allergies. Your allergist may recommend taking an antihistamine, according to Mina Nguyen, MD, chief of the allergy departments for Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, California.

U.S. News: Teens suffer from allergies in unique ways

And it could impact school performance.

By Michael Blaiss, M.D., Contributor Aug. 30, 2018, at 6:00 a.m. 

In one study, adolescents were more bothered by sneezing and runny nose than children were.

IT'S ESTIMATED THAT close to 25 percent of adolescents ages 12 to 15 have allergic rhinitis, commonly known as hay fever. And experts say the number is growing. Do adolescents suffer differently than adults with hay fever with or without eye allergies? As it turns out, teens do suffer in unique ways, according to research colleagues and I recently published in Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

You may be wondering why that's important. Aren't allergy problems a burden for all who have hay fever? Why single out adolescents? As we discussed in our research, there are many reasons why it's important to understand how allergies uniquely impact teens.

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

First, it's important to know they're not "big children" or "small adults." Adolescents are transitioning from puberty to adulthood. During this time, they undergo changes in physical, social, emotional, psychological and intellectual development. Because of these changes, chronic medical conditions, like hay fever, may have a different and more profound effect on them and can impact them the rest of their lives. Let's look at how hay fever influences adolescents in ways that are different from children and adults. 

Symptoms associated with nasal and eye allergies may differ in adolescents. A French study showed that eye symptoms were worse in teenagers compared to children and adults. This could impair driving and reading ability. They also found that adolescents were more bothered by sneezing and runny nose than children were, although the adolescent group had fewer problems with nasal itching than adults. This suggests that treatment for adolescents may need to be different than for adults and children.

Another feature of hay fever we wanted to examine is its effect on teens' quality of life. The study shows teens with hay fever have a noticeable amount of emotional distress, and they have a higher rate of anxiety and depression than children and adults. Parents of adolescents with hay fever report that nasal and eye allergies made their teenagers more upset, unhappy, angry and embarrassed. These are not the typical responses seen in most children and adults with nasal and eye allergies.

[See: Is it Healthy to Sleep With Your Pets?]

Sleep is important for all of us, but it's very important for adolescents so they can function well in school and sports. The study showed that adolescents with hay fever have more difficulty falling asleep and suffer more from night waking and generally poor sleep than teens without hay fever. And adolescents with nasal allergies are more likely to be habitual snorers than adolescents without hay fever. 

Do these sleep impairments and other burdens impact school performance? The answer is yes. 

A large study conducted in the United Kingdom reported that adolescents ages 15 to 17 whose grades dropped between winter mock exams and summer exams were significantly more likely to have hay fever than students whose grades did not drop. The students whose grades dropped were also more likely to be using hay fever medications, have a diagnosis of asthma and have more hay fever symptoms than those whose grades did not drop. Anything that dramatically impacts grades could prevent an adolescent from being admitted to a particular college or field of study and could limit careers and future incomes. 

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

Anyone with nasal and eye allergies should receive proper care for their illness, but there are unique reasons why adolescents should receive prompt and appropriate care. This is not a trivial condition. A board-certified allergist can set your child on the right track, for the long term, to handle their allergies or asthma. The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology has information that will help guide you in getting your adolescent to an allergist in your area for treatment. Your teen has the rest of their life in front of him or her. Help them get their allergies under control now.

Michael Blaiss, M.D. , Contributor


Reader’s Digest: 13 skin allergy myths everyone needs to stop believing

13 Skin Allergy Myths Everyone Needs to Stop Believing

Denise Mann, MS

Skin allergies aren’t like regular allergies: They turn up unexpectedly and are caused by a lot of weird things. Here’s what skin experts want you to know.

The number of potential skin allergens is endless: People react to soaps, laundry detergents, fabric softeners, shampoos, metals (nickel, cobalt, chromium, and zinc), adhesives, nail polish, topical medications, and plants, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. What’s more, some skin allergies are on the rise.

Make sure you know the medical conditions that may be mistaken for allergies. If your skin comes into contact with nickel in jewelry and you develop red, bumpy, scaly, itchy or swollen skin at the point of contact in a few days, that’s most likely a skin allergy. If, however, the reaction happens quickly, you may have irritant dermatitis—which isn’t an allergic reaction. “If someone has a skin reaction to something in a matter of hours it is not likely an allergic contact dermatitis, rather an irritant dermatitis,” says Adam Friedman, MD,associate professor of dermatology and director of the Supportive Oncodermatology Clinic at George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington, DC. The only exception is hives (officially, contact urticaria), which may occur immediately after contact at the site of contact. When in doubt, check in with your dermatologist or allergist for a definitive explanation.

Medical ointments are non-allergenic

Not true: The active ingredients in Neosporin and other ointments can cause skin allergy, says dermatologist Matthew Zirwas, MD, in Bexley, Ohio. “If you have a rash or irritation and use these products, you may feel better initially and then the itchiness or irritation will get worse and worse,” he says. Your best bet? See a specialist to make sure you are not doing more harm than good. Neosporin is actually one of the 10 products never to use on your baby!

Sunscreen allergies are always caused by the ingredients

Although some people are allergic to sunscreen ingredients, others react to the combination of UV rays hitting the sunscreen. “If you are not in the sun, there’s no problem, but if you are out in the sun, you will have a problem,” says Dr. Zirwas. Avoid this by choosing and using sunscreens that have titanium oxide and/or zinc oxide and nothing else, he suggests. Check out this list of sunscreens dermatologists use on themselves.

Natural, essential oils are safe for your skin

Essential oils are all the rage, but some—including frankincense, lavender, tea tree, and peppermint—can trigger skin allergies, Dr. Zirwas says. “Once we figure out it’s the essential oil and they stop using it, their rash gets better.” Read about this woman’s scary experience using essential oils.

Identifying the culprit is easy

Allergists can quickly narrow down the common foods are responsible for almost all food allergies, but skin allergies are much tougher to ID, Dr. Zirwas says. The list of potential offenders is nearly infinite, and skin allergy reactions are delayed as opposed to immediate. “If you are allergic to shrimp or peanuts or other allergens such as cats, dogs, or pollen, you tend to have an immediate reaction, but reactions to skin allergens don’t start for 48 hours,” he says. “If you are exposed on a Tuesday, for example, the rash may not occur until Thursday or Friday and can last two to three weeks.” This involves a lot more backtracking to identify the possible culprits. Don’t miss these other weird things you can be allergic to.


Testing for skin allergies is just like testing for regular allergies

For most skin allergies, doctors rely on patch testing so there is no puncturing of the skin. “We place a drop of a suspected allergen on a disc, tape the disc to the person’s back for 48 hours, and then we wait four days to see if there is a reaction,” Dr. Zirwas explains. Most reactions occur in two days, but some take longer. “We can use anywhere from 40 to 100 of these discs at a time.”

Often, switching your shampoos or body wash will help

The preservatives and fragrances in shampoos and body wash are common skin allergy triggers, Dr. Zirwas says. The real issue is that most of the products on the market contain the same ingredients. Common culprits are methylisothiazolinone (a preservative), cocamidopropyl betaine, and decyl glucoside (lathering agents), though those are just a few of the potential troublemakers. “Switching doesn’t work, and it’s much more difficult to find fragrance-free shampoos and body washes than to find fragrance-free cleansers, laundry detergents, and creams,” he says. Fragrances are actually one of the top toxic ingredients found in your beauty products.

If you don’t have skin allergies yet, you’re probably safe

Sorry: You could use the same shampoo or soap for decades when all of a sudden you get red, bumpy, scaly, itchy, or swollen skin. “People will say, ‘It couldn’t be anything I am using because I didn’t change anything,’ but skin allergies can occur with cumulative exposure,” Dr. Zirwas warns. The longer you use a product, the more likely you are to become allergic to it. And once you react, the skin allergy is with you for life. “Each time you are exposed to the allergen, your immune system gets better and better at reacting to it,” he says.

Latex skin allergies are a big concern

Latex allergy was once one of the more common types of skin allergy, but times are changing, says Dr. Zirwas. “It is basically nonexistent nowadays as the companies that make medical products have taken most of the latex out,” he says. That said, some people may react to another chemical in rubber gloves or products that traditionally used latex, and mistakenly blame it on latex.

Cheatsheet: Are you allergic to your pumpkin spice latte?

Are You Allergic to Your Pumpkin Spice Latte? There's a Possibility This Fall Favorite Is a Health Hazard

Chelena Goldman | MORE ARTICLES

August 30, 2018

Nobody has to wait for the leaves to change color or for the temperatures to begin to dip. Once fall reaches that “in the near future” marker, everything gets injected with pumpkin spice. Yogurt, candles, expensive coffee drinks — you get the idea. But autumn’s biggest trend hasn’t just reached the point of overkill. It has also become a health hazard.

You heard that right. There are people out there who are allergic to products containing pumpkin spice. And the effects of its mass production aren’t good.

Suddenly worried your PSL is pummeling your health? Here’s what you need to know about this fall favorite and its connection to food allergies.

First, a quick look at pumpkin allergies

Let’s step away from fancy pumpkin spice for a second and look at the big orange fruit itself.

As Livestrong summarizes, individuals with a pumpkin allergy are typically allergic to the seeds. But other parts of the fruit can also have a negative effect on the body. “Touching the pulp or seeds can cause dermatitis or hives in sensitive individuals,” the article says. “Inhaling the vapors from cooking pumpkin can also produce allergic symptoms in sensitive people.” They also note that, while symptoms may be mild, repeat exposure can result in anaphylaxis, in which case epinephrine needs to be administered.

Who does this allergy affect?

This allergy has gotten a lot of attention in recent years due to the rise in pumpkin products on the market every fall. And it’s particularly concerning for children with this allergy. The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology says children who are allergic to pumpkin may have a reaction from eating products such as pumpkin pie, or even from carving a pumpkin before Halloween. Children with a more severe allergy may show symptoms after being close to freshly-carved pumpkin due to breathing in pumpkin particles in the air.

Since this allergy isn’t very well-known, parents may dismiss coughing and wheezing during pumpkin carving time as signs of a cold. But Urgent Clinics Medical Care warns letting these symptoms go can make them much worse, especially with longer pumpkin exposure.

Keeping out of contact with pumpkin and pumpkin-made products becomes extra crucial this fall since the FDA reported earlier this year there is a shortage of epinephrine.

How the PSL trend can have a negative impact

For starters, no — traditional “pumpkin pie spice” doesn’t have actual pumpkin in it. It’s essentially cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. So it’s unlikely burning a pumpkin spice candle in your home is going to make anyone sick. However, many popular pumpkin-spice themed products contain bits of actual pumpkin in them. And this is where the trend becomes a problem.

One such product to be aware of? You probably already guessed it — the Starbucks pumpkin spice latte. The sauce used in the widely popular fall drink has pumpkin puree in it. While that may not seem like enough to fuel an allergic reaction, it could be a problem for anyone with a not-yet-realized pumpkin allergy.

The key to safely navigating the maze of foods and products containing this big orange fruit is, thankfully, pretty simple. It’s important to read as many labels as you can before ordering or serving pumpkin spice products to see if there is actual pumpkin in them. Erring on the side of caution may ensure that you and everyone around you has a safe and allergy-free fall season.

Charlotte Observer: She did everything right when yellow jackets stung her husband. He died 4 days later

She did everything right when yellow jackets stung her husband. He died 4 days later


July 23, 2018 04:08 PM

Updated July 24, 2018 05:27 AM

When Brian Baker Jr. rushed into the house and yelled he’d been stung by yellow jackets, his wife reacted quickly with an EpiPen allergy shot, cooling towels and a 911 call, reports TV station WMUR.

But the unthinkable happened anyway on the kitchen floor of their home in Winchester, New Hampshire, reports the Boston Globe.

Mandi Baker was still waiting on the ambulance when her husband stopped breathing the first time, said WMUR. 

Medics arrived and performed CPR for 45 minutes to stabilize his condition, but damage had been done, according to WWLP/CNN. 

He died Wednesday, July 18, in a Manchester hospital, the station reported.

Death by insect string is a fate that befalls fewer than 100 people per year, reports the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

Baker had been doing electrical work on a deck outside his home when he was stung twice on the wrist and ankle, according to the Boston Globe.

“It took two minutes before things really progressed to the point where I personally started panicking,” his wife told the Boston Globe. “He was on the kitchen floor and I could tell he was definitely struggling.”

The family knew Baker was allergic to bee and wasp stings, but the reaction went far beyond the expected shortness of breath and drop in blood pressure, reported the Keene Sentinel.

Baker’s severe reaction, combined with the loss of oxygen, caused irreparable brain damage, the Sentinel said.

He had developed the allergy only two years earlier, and his reactions to occasional stings began to magnify, Mandi Baker told the Sentinel.

Yellow jackets are a predatory wasp that is known to be territorial,“very aggressive” and prone to sting multiple times, according to

“People who are allergic to their venom could have a severe reaction, and it is possible to become hypersensitive to yellow jackets after being stung. This sensitivity could cause a serious problem if stung again in the future,” says

Yellow jackets account for the nation’s most common type of insect sting, and it typically results only pain, redness and swelling in people who do not have allergic reactions, reports Medical News Today.

Mark Price: 704-358-5245, @markprice_obs

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Everyday Health: 8 surprising triggers for contact dermatitis

Having trouble figuring out why your skin is suddenly dry and itchy? Here are a handful of possible explanations.

By Moira Lawler

Medically Reviewed by Ross Radusky, MD

Contact dermatitis, a type of eczema, is a skin reaction that results when you come into contact with substances your body is sensitive to. According to the National Eczema Association, the word “dermatitis” is used to describe any rash, but contact dermatitis differs from atopic dermatitis in that it develops as a result of something touching the skin versus being genetic.

There are two types of contact dermatitis: allergic dermatitis, which is an allergic skin reaction, and irritant dermatitis, which develops after encountering an irritating substance over time, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). Either way, the result is dry, red, itchy, sometimes blistering skin that could be accompanied by a burning or stinging sensation.

RELATED: Everything You Need to Know About Eczema

Contact dermatitis is very common and affects almost everyone at some point in their lives, the AAD notes. Michele Green, MD, a New York City-based dermatologist and contributor, says it’s the root cause of most allergic reactions.

People working in occupations that require them to get their hands wet often, such as nurses, bartenders, and beauticians, tend to experience contact dermatitis more often than others, according to the AAD. Furthermore, the AAD points out, having asthma or hay fever, or experiencing other types of eczema, also put the body at increased risk. The environment plays a role, too. Extremes, whether it’s excessively hot or cold or excessively humid or dry, make it more likely for contact dermatitis to develop.

How will you know if you’re experiencing it? You might notice an immediate reaction where the skin came into contact with the substance. It could swell or even blister. Or, it could show up days to weeks later as dry, itchy, cracking skin. While the reaction to irritant dermatitis stays close to where the exposure happened, allergic dermatitis can spread away from the site, according to the National Eczema Association.

RELATED: How Your Diet Choices Can Affect Eczema Flare-Ups

The symptoms of eczema can change over time, lessening and worsening at different points. A dermatologist can help you get to the bottom of what’s causing the irritation. Here are eight potential culprits.

1. Swimming Pools

Dr. Green says chlorine can be a trigger for some, leading to itchy, red skin or hives. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, swimming pools in general can dry the skin, which can make any existing rash worse. Does that mean it’s never a good idea to dive in? No way, but pay attention to your post-dip routine. “It is important to rinse off after swimming and apply protective moisturizer, which will act as a barrier for the skin,” Green says.

2. Shampoo 

Ever dissect the ingredients list on your shampoo bottle? It’s a worthwhile exercise if you’ve been battling skin issues. Isothiazolinones (which keep bacteria from growing within the bottle) and cocamidopropyl betaine (a thickening agent) are commonly found in shampoos and can have a negative impact on the skin, according to the National Eczema Foundation.

RELATED: What to Know About the Connection Between Eczema and Stress

3. Laundry Detergent

Though rare, it’s possible for ingredients used in laundry detergent to cause rashes, says Charles E. Crutchfield III, MD, a Minneapolis-based clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Minnesota Medical School and the medical director of Crutchfield Dermatology. Other personal care and household products (such as dishwashing soap) can cause issues, too. Added fragrance, regardless of whether it's noted on the packaging, is often the irritant.

4. Wrinkle-Resistant Fabrics

You probably already know that formaldehyde is bad for you, but you may be surprised to learn that formaldehyde may be lurking in your clothes. According to the National Eczema Association, the preservative may be packed into clothing items marked “permanent press” or “wrinkle-resistant.”

5. Dust

Airborne irritants such as dust can trigger contact dermatitis, Green says. Of course, it can be tough to avoid dusty environments, but you can take a proactive approach to resisting them. Green suggests applying a moisturizer containing ceramides. “[Ceramides] will act as a barrier to protect the skin and avoid known allergens,” she says.

RELATED: How to Recognize and Target Eczema Triggers

6. Latex Gloves

You won’t necessarily see a reaction immediately. It can take years of touching a certain substance or material for an allergy to develop, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. For instance, if you work in a hospital and wear latex gloves for most of the day, you may eventually notice your hands becoming itchy and inflamed. That’s the result of your body developing an allergy to the gloves.

7. Metal on Your Jeans and Keys

As far as allergies go, nickel allergies are widespread. But nickel is hard to avoid — it’s everywhere. A study published in the September–October 2017 issue of the Brazilian Annals of Dermatology, for instance, found nickel was present in 100 percent of the keys the researchers tested. Even the button and metal snaps on your jeans can cause a reaction. The Mayo Clinicrecommends ironing a patch onto your jeans to keep your skin from coming into direct contact with the metal.

8. Your Manicure 

Are perfectly manicured nails worth the risk of developing swollen, blistering skin? Acrylic nails (and gel nails, too) have been linked to contact dermatitis on the fingertips, according to a study published in July 2015 in Skin Appendage Disorders. It’ll usually start with itchiness in the nail bed, which may then become dry and thickened. In most cases, all it takes is a stint of going au naturel for the nails to rebound.

A Final Word on Identifying the Cause of Your Contact Dermatitis Rash

It’s important to remember that the rash of contact dermatitis does not necessarily mean you have an allergy. Often, avoiding the product will clear away the rash. If you’re not seeing relief and the rash continues to occur or worsens, check with your dermatologist, who can recommend skin allergy testing to find the exact trigger.

Last Updated:7/25/2018

Natural News: Most people don’t realize the same things that trigger your allergies also cause asthma

(Natural News) If you have an allergy (or several allergies), chances are you might also have asthma.

While the link between the two conditions isn’t obvious, several studies have determined that at least two-thirds or more patients with asthma also have an allergy.

Asthma and allergies

Dr. Bradley Chipps, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology(ACAAI), said that the public isn’t aware that the things that trigger seasonal hay fever symptoms, such as dust mites, mold, pet dander, and pollen, may sometimes trigger the symptoms of asthma.

He added that patients with allergies who cough or wheeze must consult an allergist to determine if they also have asthma. Allergists are specialists who can help patients come up with a treatment plan to help them deal with both their allergies and asthma.

A patient with allergic asthma, the most common type of asthma, has allergies that also trigger their asthma symptoms. Researchers are already aware that the percentage of children with both allergies and asthma can go as high as 80 percent.

However, the latest research also revealed that at least 75 percent of asthmatic adults aged 20 to 40, as well as 65 percent of asthmatic people who are 55 or older may have at least one allergy. (Related: Allergic to peanuts? Probiotics found to be effective at ending the threat – naturally.)

Dr. Chipps, who is also an allergist, concluded that to effectively treat and prevent allergic asthma, patients must try to identify and avoid allergens that trigger their symptoms.

How to avoid allergens that trigger asthma

Follow these tips from the ACAAI to avoid the allergens that can trigger your asthma:

  1. Avoid allergens – If pollen is a seasonal trigger for your allergies, always keep the windows closed during pollen season, especially during the day. Find out which pollens you are sensitive to and verify pollen counts. Don’t go outside when pollen counts are at their highest. In spring and summer, which is tree and grass pollen season, levels are highest in the evening. In late summer and early fall, or ragweed pollen season, levels are highest in the morning. After playing or working outdoors, shower, wash your hair thoroughly and change your clothes. Leave dirty shoes outside your house since soles can attract pollen which can be left on carpeting and other surfaces.
  2. Avoid cigarette smoke – Secondhand smoke is bad for everyone, especially for patients with allergic asthma. Try to avoid areas that permit smoking, such as bars.
  3. Control mold – Tiled areas, like bathrooms and basements, can be prone to mold. To reduce mold, control the moisture in these areas. Install bathroom fans and clean up standing water immediately. Remove visible mold with some baking soda or vinegar and water, and then dry completely.
  4. Eliminate pet dander – Get rid of pet allergens by vacuuming regularly and washing upholstery and pet bed/s. Keep pets out of the bedroom so you can sleep without any symptoms.
  5. Get rid of dust mites – Keep home humidity below 50 percent and clean the gutters regularly to eliminate dust mites and mold. Refrain from using humidifiers or vaporizers. Get dust-proof and zippered covers for mattresses and pillows and wash all beddings and sheets once a week. Instead of carpets, opt for hardwood or tiled floors, which won’t attract dust mites.

You can read more articles about natural cures and remedies for allergic asthma at

Sources include: Eczema dramatically impacts quality of life

Eczema Dramatically Impacts Quality of Life


July 16, 2018

MONDAY, July 16, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- Itching, blisters, sores and inflammation are a continuous and debilitating source of pain, shame and misery for many people who struggle with the allergic skin disease known as eczema, researchers say.

And a new survey suggests that many of those battling moderate-to-severe eczema suffer from an inability or reluctance to engage in activities and socializing, which leads to a considerably diminished quality of life.

For some eczema patients, their quality of life is poorer than those who have a wide range of other chronic health issues, including heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure, the researchers added.

"The more severe the atopic dermatitis [eczema], the worse the overall health, quality of life and life dissatisfaction," said study author Dr. Jonathan Silverberg.

"I see some of the toughest cases of atopic dermatitis around, so I can't say I was terribly surprised by this," Silverberg explained. "But I think most people who don't live with atopic dermatitis are surprised to hear just how debilitating it can be."

Silverberg serves as director of the Northwestern Medicine Multidisciplinary Eczema Center and the Contact Dermatitis Clinic at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, in Chicago.

According to the National Eczema Association, roughly 30 million Americans -- ranging from infants to seniors -- suffer from one of several different forms of the skin disease.

The exact cause remains elusive, and there is no known cure. And though topical drugs and immunotherapy can help manage the condition, treatment is complicated by the fact that "no two eczema patients are exactly alike," Silverberg said.

"For most patients, flares can come for no apparent reason at all," he noted. "Many patients are looking for that one [environmental] trigger they can avoid to cure their atopic dermatitis. For most, it doesn't exist."

And that means that patients with different triggers and different degrees of severity and symptoms will require a different "tailored treatment approach" for what will likely end up being a long-term chronic disorder, said Silverberg.

The survey of just over 600 eczema patients (with mild, moderate, or severe disease) revealed one all-too-common thread: a broad dissatisfaction with one's life.

Nearly three-quarters of those polled were white. Just over half had mild eczema, nearly four in 10 had a moderate condition, and just over 8 percent described their condition as severe.

Pooled together, about one-quarter said they were in fair health, while nearly 16 percent described their overall health as poor, the findings showed.

Among those with severe disease, about 35 percent said they were either in fair or poor health, while almost one-third said they were somewhat or very dissatisfied with life.

But even among those with mild eczema, nearly 18 percent said they avoided socializing because of their appearance, while 23 percent limited their daily activities. Those figures shot up to 40 percent and 43 percent, respectively, when moderate and severe patients were included.

The most effective way patients can limit eczema's impact on quality of life is to "seek care earlier and aim for tighter control of their symptoms," Silverberg advised.

"Some patients may say to themselves 'it's not so bad,' and not seek care," he said. "Then they end up suffering in silence as things worsen and they eventually get to a point of desperation, and at that point have a much harder time treating their disease."

The impact that eczema can have on life satisfaction is not lost on Dr. Richard Gallo, chairman of dermatology at the University of California, San Diego.

"We have long known that eczema has an enormous impact on the quality of life, not only for the patient but also on parents of children with eczema," he said.

Still, "there is good news for eczema patients because of new scientific understanding of the cause and treatment," Gallo added. On that front, he highlighted work currently underway exploring the potential benefits of using probiotics applied to the skin.

But, Gallo said, "eczema is complex and patients really need to talk carefully to their doctor to understand the type and causes of their eczema."

The study was published July 16 in  Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology

For more on eczema, visit the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Reader’s Digest: 11 ways to stop a headache before it starts

11 Ways to Stop a Headache Before It Starts

Lisa Lombardi

Don’t let head pain get in the way of your summer fun. Experts reveal the best way to prevent migraines, sinus headaches, and other head-throbbers this summer.

Summer can be the headache season

From migraines to jet lag, hangovers to sinus pain, summer can bring on some serious head pain. “Sunlight and dehydration are both strong triggers for migraines,” says Thomas Berk, MD, a neurologist in the division of headaches at NYU Langone Health. Seasonal allergies inflame the sinuses, causing pressure and pain in the forehead. And even summer fun can lead to pounding temples (as anyone who has stayed up late knocking back margaritas knows). To sidestep pain, “Prevention is key,” says Berk. These strategies will help prevent headaches—or at least keep them to a minimum. Check out the 8 types of headaches—and how to get rid of them.


Hydrate like crazy…

Being dehydrated can give anyone a headache, but it is particularly problematic for people prone to migraines, which happens to be a lot of people: Migraines are the most disabling neurological disease for people under 50, according to Amaal Starling, MD, assistant professor of Neurology at Mayo Clinic Arizona. Women are especially prone—more than one in five women (and almost one in ten men) get migraines and severe headaches, according to a recent review of studies published in the journal Headache. The condition is marked by bouts of moderate to severe head pain (sometimes around one eye), sensitivity to light, sound, and smell, and nausea and vomiting. Staying fully hydrated is a must-do. Here’s how to diagnose your own migraines.

…But drink less

Summer seems like the time to sip rum drinks late into the evening, but you’re setting yourself up for headaches above and beyond the ones you might expect from a hangover; make sure to have at least one glass of water for every beer or glass of wine to prevent waking up with a hangover headache. Alcohol disrupts sleep, leads to snoring, and dehydrates you—and all of these things can trigger head pain. 

Go easy on pain meds

It sounds counterintuitive, but cutting back on painkillers can actually make your head pain better. That’s because pain medications (both OTC ones like aspirin or ibuprofen and prescription options like triptans) can cause a rebound effect that makes headaches worse, says Berk. “Don’t take them more than two or three times a week,” he warns. Cutting back should help, but if it doesn’t, see a neurologist who will help wean you off the pain meds while offering you other treatments to keep you comfortable. Find out the surprising ways doctors treat their own headaches.

Eat every couple of hours

Mom was right: Skipping meals is never a good idea. It can cause low blood sugar which can spark migraines. If you notice you get headaches when you run out the door without breakfast or eat a late lunch, try switching to smaller, more frequent meals. Good mini-meals include ones that combine protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats. For instance: peanut butter on whole grain toast, apple or pear slices and almond butter, or savory Greek yogurt drizzled with olive oil and served with cucumber slices.

Sleep better

With hot sweaty nights leading to nocturnal tossing and turning, you can easily set yourself up for daytime throbbing between the temples. Headaches are up to eight times more common in people with sleep disorders, according to Consider A/C for your bedroom or at least a fan to keep the air moving. Here are some other surprising things that could be triggering your headaches

Know your personal sensitivities

Not everyone with migraines has the same triggers. You may be fine with a glass of red wine, for instance, but a sip could leave your friend in agony. Still, there are certain foods, drinks, and habits that tend to provoke migraines in many. They include wine (white or red), beer, caffeine (either having it or not having it when you normally would), sunlight, processed meats and hot dogs (blame the nitrites), dark chocolate and artificial sweeteners. Since multiple factors may be at play, it is sometimes hard to tease out your personal Kryptonite. Experts recommend keeping a headache journal either on paper or using the notes app on your smartphone to see if you spot patterns. If you do notice a common theme (bad sleep + no coffee = a headache), then you know what to change to find relief. Check out these foods that can cause headaches.

Watch for allergy headaches

If your headaches are seasonal, the root cause could actually be uncontrolled allergy symptoms, says Tania Elliott, MD, a spokesperson for the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. “Our sinuses are meant to be hollow cavities,” she explains, “but when allergies flare, mucous can flood into them and cause pain in the form of a headache.” Interestingly, old-school allergy medications like Benadryl as well as new-school nasal decongestant sprays like Azelastine can cause headaches.

Avoid triggers

If you suffer from grass allergies, for instance, don’t sit in the park while they’re mowing the lawns. Keep your windows closed and turn on the air conditioning. Use an OTC steroid nasal spray like Flonase daily during peak allergy season, and add an OTC antihistamine like Zyrtec or Allegra as needed. Still stuffed up and headachey? Consider allergy shots, recommends Elliott. “They can cure you of your allergies by training your immune system to no longer recognize those allergens as something foreign.”

Move more

If you’re skipping workouts to ward off headaches, you may want to rethink that. Studies suggest that frequent aerobic exercise reduces the number—and severity—of headaches. “Regular aerobic exercise for at least 40 minutes, three times a week seems to be effective for preventing migraines,” Starling says. Going on a long run is head clearing in more ways than one. Find out the other natural remedies for headaches.

Let go of stress

You know that stress reduction is good for everything—well, that includes headache prevention. Mindfulness tools like biofeedback, cognitive behavioral therapy, and relaxation exercises not only help people manage stress, they reduce the frequency, severity, and duration of migraines, says Starling. If you’re unsure where to start, try an app like Headspace (iOS or Android; $58 a year though you can test out the free version) or the free podcast 10% Happier with Dan Harris. And while you’re in relaxation mode, make sure you’re making sleep a priority. Getting seven hours of quality sleep most nights is an easy, all-natural way to keep painful headaches away. Next, find out the sneaky warning signs a migraine is coming.


Insider: 13 silent signs your home is an unhealthy place to live

13 silent signs your home is an unhealthy place to live

Alexa Erickson, 

Reader's Digest

Jul. 17, 2018, 3:17 PM

Innocent-seeming habits might not be so great after all. 

  • Wearing your shoes inside can track in dirt and germs. 
  • Leaky gutters cause moisture buildup, allowing excess water into your walls. 

So you go awhile between dustings. Let the dog sleep in the bed. Watch moisture bead up on the bathroom window. However, these innocent-seeming habits could be making you and your family sick. 

Your home has too much moisture

While moisture in the home is normal—bathing, cooking, and even breathing all contribute—excessive moisture is not, according to  . Mold loves humid environments, and if there is excessive moisture in the home, it's bound to grow, especially in corners and ceilings.  The CDC warns  that mold can cause nasal stuffiness, throat irritation, coughing or wheezing, eye irritation, or, in some cases skin irritation. 

You’re vacuuming without a HEPA filter

Research from MIT reveals that air pollution causes about 200,000 early deaths per year in the United States, and it worsens asthma and allergies. That's why you may want to invest in a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter vacuum to prevent tiny particles of dust from being blown back out into your indoor air. "I tend to go toward whole-house filtration, so the first thing I'd recommend is installing a HEPA filter in your home's HVAC system,"  says James Sublett, MD  , a former clinical professor and chief of allergy and immunology at the University of Louisville, in  Time  . 

You’re forgetting to change the vacuum filter

If you're using a HEPA filter, you'll want to make sure you're changing it every six months or when you notice signs of wear and tear. This will ensure an effective filter, while also preserving the life of the machine. These are the  10 cleaning myths you need to stop believing  

You’re not cleaning vents and ducts

Vents might not be in your line of vision quite like dirty dishes, but that doesn't mean they don't need cleaning too. Vents harbor a ton of dust from the air, and when you turn on the heat or air conditioning, all those dust particles are redistributed throughout your house. You can take off the vent cover and clean out the grime you can reach, but you'll want to enlist a professional to thoroughly clean your ducts. The pros use compressed air and air agitators to clear out hard-to-reach dust. 

Your bathroom has poor ventilation

Are you keeping the window open or using the fan when showering? You should! Excess moisture can not only cause your paint and wallpaper to detach, but it encourages mold, which can thrive and multiply indoors, damaging your house and potentially your health,  according to the EPA  . Make sure you correct these other  mistakes you make when cleaning your bathroom  

You’re using the wrong household cleaners

As you spray cleaner around the house, it settles on all types of surfaces. Plus, you inhale it as you spritz. Common household chemicals—bath products, dish soap, bleach—can damage your airways and lungs.  The Environmental Working Group's investigation  of more than 2,000 cleaning supplies on the American market revealed that many substances in them are linked to serious health problems like asthma, allergies, and even cancer. Instead, check out these  15 chemical-free ways to clean your home  


You’re not dusting correctly

Vacuuming once a week and wiping down countertops means you're only making a dent in the dust around your house. It builds up every single day, and the more time you let go by without wiping it up, the more you're exposing yourself to harmful particles. Use a damp cloth to gather dust as opposed to using a duster (or a dry cloth), which,  according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology  , will only spread the dust around and trigger allergies. Also, be sure to dust from high to low. 

You’re ignoring your gutters

Leaky gutters are another cause of moisture buildup, allowing excess water into your walls, basement, or crawl space. If your gutters aren't covered, you'll want to make sure you clean them out regularly. 


Your bedroom is musty

Although you vacuum and dust, you actually need to move your chest of drawers, desks, and other furniture to thoroughly clean. Pull your bed away from the wall, and you might be shocked to see just how much crud is collecting just behind your head. And remember to regularly wash your bedding—once every one to two weeks—and make sure you have a good mattress protector. Turn it every couple of months, and vacuum it when you do. Look out for these  cleaning mistakes that actually make your home dirtier  

You wear your shoes inside the house

You wouldn't roll around a public bathroom, but nearly everyone would walk around one and then walk around their house in the same shoes. Given that you roll on your carpets with your kids or the dog and put your feet up on the coffee table, you might want to leave the shoes at the door.  Researchers from the University of Arizona  found that shoes can track in 400,000-plus bacteria per shoe, including  E. coli  , a strain that's known to cause nasty gastrointestinal distress. Don't miss these other  reasons you shouldn't wear your shoes in the house  

You’re surrounded by wind-pollinated plants

You may unknowingly be inviting allergens into your yard that cause your stuffy nose, watery eyes, sneezing, and breathing trouble. If you have allergies,  the  Old Farmer's Almanac recommends the following: 

  • Large shade trees such as oaks, maples, and beeches 
  • Most lawn grasses 
  • Common weeds such as lamb's-quarter, pigweed, and ragweed 
  • Goldenrod 

You have too much stuff

You love throw pillows, coffee table books, and knick-knacks: All these things collect dust, dander, and pollen, and they can contribute to poor air quality in your home. Unless you plan on constantly moving and cleaning all of this, you should consider minimizing your furnishings and collections. Here are more subtle ways your house might be making you sick  

You let your pet sleep in your bed

They're cozy, loving, and even help you sleep, but if you're walking your dog around the neighborhood, you can bet they're carrying a lot of dirt, germs, and even insects (think ticks) into your bed. Not only that, but pet dander traps allergens, which means you're subjecting your sleeping space to those allergens. Don't miss these other  hidden home dangers you should never ignore  .