High pollen counts the Spring might make allergy sufferers believe they are also allergic to certain types of foods. The condition is known as “oral allergy syndrome.” CBS News Dr. Max Gomez discusses oral allergy syndrome with NYC Allergist, Dr Clifford Bassett.
We spoke with Dr. Clifford Basset, a New York allergen specialist. He tells us that “During the holiday season, those with gluten intolerance and celiac disease have higher instances for potential serious food reactions, due to the increase in holiday parties, gatherings, and sweets and alcohol. We all know how easy it is to let our guard down during the holidays, but those with gluten intolerance still need to avoid wheat and gluten at all costs. Therefore it is imperative to have an excellent plan in place to reduce the likelihood of an adverse or unpleasant food-associated reaction.”
Christmas is a time for family and friends to get together — and that means there are many different people in the kitchen preparing the food. Having many different hands making dinner can often be a bit unnerving for someone with a gluten intolerance, so we’ve rounded up some useful tips to help you get through the holidays — gluten-free.
To be extra-safe and ensure a gluten-free holiday, give your recipes to the cook ahead of time or make your menu items and bring them. Chances are if you bring a gluten-free pie to the holiday dinner, nobody will even be able to tell the difference and you’ll be able to enjoy dessert along with everyone else.
We recommend following these tips in order to be gluten-free and have a safe (and delicious) holiday. Follow some of Dr. Basset’s strategies and enjoy a festive and fun-filled holiday.
Holiday items can be a little tricky, especially if you did not prepare them. From honey-glazed ham to fruitcakes, gingerbread men, and even eggnog, a variety of potentially hidden ingredients may contain a surprising amount of wheat and gluten. Alternative gingerbread cookies may be prepared using quinoa, oats (look for the gluten-free variety), rice and/or tapioca flour.
Don’t forget to travel with safe snacks. It sounds simple, but especially with kids and teens, temptation can play a role in increasing the risk of a reaction. Having some safe foods at hand is always a good policy.
Whether with mild symptoms like an itchy nose or a swollen mouth, or more extreme ones like shortness of breath, we react to the allergens around us all the time. To avoid these sometimes hazardous symptoms, it’s important to pinpoint exactly what is causing them. We spoke with Dr. Clifford Bassett, a food allergy specialist, who helped us compile ways to find out what you’re allergic to.
Dr. Bassett points out that there are “simple, virtually painless, reliable in-office allergy diagnostic skin tests to pinpoint if you have allergies and exactly what type.” He states that these tests are the only “true, effective relief for those pesky allergies.”
Food allergies are dangerous and sometimes can be life-threatening. To avoid a potentially hazardous situation, it’s important, especially with children, to be aware of what the common food allergies are and the kinds of food that contain these allergens. We spoke with Dr. Clifford Bassett, a food allergy specialist, who helped us compile a list of some of the most prevalent food allergies.
Dr. Bassett rounded up seven of the most common food allergies that you should watch out for. Some of the items listed can be disguised in other foods and you might not even realize that you’re eating them. For example, if you are allergic to milk, did you know you should read the label for canned tuna? Read on for some of Dr. Bassett’s tips for how to avoid common food allergies and to learn where some allergens might be hiding. His advice for anyone with food allergies is to always “ask before the first bite.”
With gluten intolerance on the rise, many restaurants are making an effort to keep their menus easy to navigate for people who need to avoid gluten in their foods. During the holidays especially, with so many holiday parties for work and with friends, it can be difficult to avoid temptation or know exactly what ingredients are in a food. That’s why having a list of common foods likely to contain gluten is a great first step in helping to reduce inadvertent exposure.
There are a myriad of foods that may contain gluten, such as:
- Canned soups
- Ice cream
- Wheat starch
- Wheat germ
- Salad dressing
- Veggie burgers
Additionally, here is a helpful list of various food preparation styles that may contain hidden gluten – watch out for these terms on a menu:
- Teriyaki or soy sauces
- Au gratin
If you are ever unsure if a dish is gluten-free or not, call ahead before dining (this is particularly important during peak holiday times) and speak to the server and/or kitchen staff regarding any allergies or gluten-free requests in order to have a safe and healthy dining experience.
Everyone loves a good scare around Halloween, but for families with asthma and/or skin and food allergies, a holiday celebrated with copious amounts of candy and preservatives can be especially frightening.
This Halloween, put your family’s safety first and follow these simple tips to avoid getting spooked by allergies:
- If your child has a food allergy or eats a gluten-free diet, discard any food/candy that does not come with a label. Special Halloween candies may have different ingredients compared to regular-sized versions. Remember, “When in doubt, throw it out!”
- For those allergic to nuts, the warning “may contain nuts” must always be taken seriously. Even small amounts of peanut or nut protein may be left behind during food processing.
- Keep safe snacks on hand to avoid temptation. This is especially important during the holidays, including the night before Halloween. Additionally, pumpkin carving and other non-food based activities may be a good idea for fun-filled activities that are safe.
- If you or your child has sensitive skin, suffering from eczema or a skin allergy, have your allergist or dermatologist do a pre-exposure patch test. This will help prevent an allergic reaction if your child is using a facial cosmetic or wash-a-way face paint for his or her costume.
- Make sure Halloween masks are not too tight, particularly on those with asthma.
- Use reflective tape on Halloween clothes and bags to improve safety and increase visibility during the evening hours.
- If your child has asthma or food allergies, always keep a prescribed asthma rescue inhaler and/or epinephrine autoinjector close by.
- Utilize non-food items such as stickers and small child-safe novelties in lieu of candy for those children with strong food allergies.
- Find an allergist near your home for optimal evaluation and care before Halloween if you suspect your child has asthma, skin allergies or a food allergy.
There’s no reason why children of all ages can’t enjoy Halloween safely – but for those with allergies, these simple guidelines will help to reduce the likelihood the day doesn’t turn into a real fright-fest. Plan ahead!
For the 15 million people in the United States that suffer from food allergies, dining out can be a stressful experience.
As I always advise my patients, if you or one of your family members has a food allergy, your best offense is educating yourself so you can be proactive in coming up with a defense strategy. Of course, having your allergist help with a written food allergy action plan is also an excellent way to mitigate unnecessary risks when it comes to potential allergic reactions to foods.
So here is my list of strategies to help you take control of your food allergy and put the fun back in family dining:
1. Plan ahead: If you are dining out at a local restaurant, call ahead and make sure they are prepared to deal with you or a family member with a food allergy, and have optimal strategies in place that will allow a food allergen-free meal to keep you safe from accidental exposure. This is particularly important during peak time periods, such as during holidays.
2. Travel smart: If you have a family member with food allergies, pack snacks that you know are safe.
3. Be a label detective: Remember, even prudent manufacturers may change the ingredients in a packaged food product, so stay vigilant.
4. Get medicated: Always carry your prescribed epinephrine auto-injector, and at least two doses with a written action plan with you at all times.
5. Decontaminate: Be aware of possible cross contamination of cooking surfaces, utensils and even eating surfaces.
6. Rate your risk: Be aware of high-risk cuisines including bakeries, dessert or ice cream shops and Mexican or Asian cuisine — where exposure to peanut and nut allergens is more likely.
7. Wipe it off! Some individual families may carry disposable wipes to decontaminate a table area before dining in the hopes of removing residual protein residue.
8. Get educated: Teach your family and friends about the food allergy in question and get them on board to never make suspect foods immediately available, especially for food-allergic children. At home, kitchen magnets and/or signs can serve as a reminder for friends and guests, too.
9. Keep an eye out: Cozy and intimate lighting is not cool if you are dining out with someone with a food allergy. It is essential to be able to see your immediate environment for possible triggers.
10. Work it out: Talk to the restaurant manager and chefs to review all ingredients used in the preparation of a meal item so you can avoid any unwanted surprises and have a safe and enjoyable meal.
Overview of Hives
There are many varieties of hives. They may have a variable appearance, generally are red in color, often round and raised, and are of varying sizes. The hallmark symptom in most patients is itchiness. A mild case of hives often disappears on its own after a few hours, but may last or occur on and off for weeks, months and even years.
Acute hives that last less than 6 weeks are generally caused by a variety of allergens that may include foods, insect stings, bites and infection (particularly in children). A medication a patient takes such as aspirin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or antibiotics can be some of the leading causes. Please also note that acute hives may be part of an allergic reaction that can be associated with life-threatening symptoms.
When hives last for more than 6 weeks they are known as ‘chronic’. About 1% of the US population suffers from chronic hives, and in many cases it is extremely difficult to determine the exact cause.
Chronic hives are generally more common in middle-aged adults and women. The immune system may be somehow involved, especially in cases where an answer is elusive. Other common causes associated with chronic hives include thyroid and hormonal conditions as well as physical triggers like rubbing, scratching, vibration, water, skin pressure and even changes in skin temperature.
Solar or Light Triggered Hives
In some cases, such as solar or light triggered hives, a simple sun block and avoidance will provide the answer. With delayed pressure hives, the symptoms may be slow to start but last longer periods of time. Loose-fitting clothing may help in this case. Dressing warmer can reduce cold temperature hives, especially if you wear gloves.
In many cases, it may be difficult to know the exact cause of a hive. In allergic associated hives, there may be a pattern of exposure (cause and effect) and keeping a food diary can often provide some valuable insight into possible triggers. In a small number of individuals with hives, exercise actually can be the provoking stimulus.
Some of the most effective and safest treatment of hives can come from second-generation, non-sedating oral antihistamines. These medications will reduce itchiness, the size of the hive and the frequency and severity of the episodes. In some cases when hives are severe and /or persistent oral steroids may need to be prescribed to control the itchiness and/or swelling of the skin.
In many cases you may need to see your health care provider or a specialist, such as a dermatologist or an allergist.
For more information, please visit About.com.
Food Allergy Overview
Some of the most common food allergens that may affect food allergy sufferers are peanuts and nuts, cow’s milk and eggs, especially in younger children. In adults, shellfish is thought to be one of the most common food allergens in the US with more than 2% of adults affected.
Unsuspecting Food Items
Summer is barbecue season. As such there are a variety of party and picnic items that many unsuspecting diners may not realize can pose a real problem if you are very sensitive. Sauces, marinades used on the grill may contain egg, milk, soy, fish and even nuts. Even the grill and counter top surfaces may expose an individual to hidden food allergens.
In some cases more than one factor may be at work, such as concomitant alcohol with an ingested food in adults. About 5% of those with food allergies report reactions with wine, beer and some spirits.
In general, the biggest risk for summertime foods triggering an allergic reaction is of course by ingestion, or eating the food. Infrequently, reports of food allergy exposure by inhalation (particularly with boiling foods such as shellfish) and by contact can create havoc and increased anxiety in persons at risk. This may magnify the severity of a reaction.
For more information, please visit About.com.