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Food allergy treatment shows promise
July 18th, 2012
06:00 PM ET

Food allergy treatment shows promise

With food allergies still on the rise and no clear answer about their causes, parents of allergic children anxiously await the development of an effective treatment to prevent life-threatening reactions.

Researchers are making progress with a method for helping children with food allergies develop a tolerance for foods they otherwise couldn't eat.  The technique is called immunotherapy.  The basic idea is to give an allergic child extremely small quantities of the allergen and increase the dosage over time.

A new study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, is particularly exciting because it followed children with an egg allergy for one year after they stopped receiving immunotherapy treatment and found some success in that group.  But more than half of the children did not show this immunity and doctors still don't know why.

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Pets may make children healthier
July 9th, 2012
12:01 AM ET

Pets may make children healthier

Children who are born to a family with furry pets seem more able to ward off certain illnesses.

A recent study out of Finland finds babies who have a cat or dog around during their first year have fewer health problems than little ones who don't have pets.

The study, published in next month's issue of Pediatrics, followed 397 children from before birth to age 1, and noted the number of times they had contact with either a dog or cat each week.

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Study: Bed bug 'bombs' don't work
June 3rd, 2012
11:30 PM ET

Study: Bed bug 'bombs' don't work

Do-it-yourself "bombs" or "foggers" that target bugs by filling entire rooms with aerosol insecticide are billed as an easy, cost-effective alternative to pricey pro exterminators. Although these products are indeed cheap, retailing at hardware stores for around $10, if you use them on bed bugs you're likely to get what you pay for.

In a new study, the first of its kind to be published, entomologists at Ohio State University tested three commercially available foggers - sold under the Hot Shot, Spectracide, and Eliminator brands, respectively - and concluded that all three products were virtually useless at fighting bed bug infestations.

Bed bugs in houses and apartments tend to be resistant to the insecticides used in most foggers, the study found, and even non-resistant bugs are likely to survive a fogging because the mist of chemicals doesn't appear capable of penetrating the cracks in furniture and walls where bed bugs usually hide.

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Filed under: Allergies • Health.com

Do allergies actually benefit your health?
April 25th, 2012
01:00 PM ET

Do allergies actually benefit your health?

Depending on severity, allergies can range from annoying to deadly. Millions of Americans are familiar with the sneezing, itching and coughing that come along with spring allergies to toxins, while others suffer hives or even airway blockage if they eat the wrong food.

And we know that food allergies are on the rise, partly because of awareness but experts say something else may be going on. It’s a mystery why industrial countries see more and more children having reactions to common foods such as peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, eggs, milk, wheat or soy.

But there’s a deeper question to ask here: Why do humans have allergies at all?
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What the Yuck: Can I be allergic to sunlight?
April 1st, 2012
09:00 AM ET

What the Yuck: Can I be allergic to sunlight?

Too embarrassed to ask your doctor about sex, body quirks, or the latest celeb health fad? In a regular feature and a new book, "What the Yuck?!," Health magazine medical editor Dr. Roshini Raj tackles your most personal and provocative questions. Send 'em to Dr. Raj at whattheyuck@health.com.

Q: When I’ve been in the sun for a few days, my chest and arms get itchy and break out in red splotches. Am I allergic to sunlight?

A: As weird as it may sound, it is possible. There are actually a few types of sun allergies.

The most common is polymorphic light eruption (PMLE), which often shows up - sometimes within minutes - as an itchy red rash on body parts exposed to sunlight, especially the neckline, the backs of the arms, the face and the hands.
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Attention, allergies sufferers: Pollen has arrived
March 19th, 2012
02:19 PM ET

Attention, allergies sufferers: Pollen has arrived

While some of you are probably out playing sports and smelling flowers, the rest of us are indoors with clogged noses, struggling to keep our burning eyes open.

The nice weather means spring allergies have kicked in for millions of Americans, and in the Southeast, the pollen assault is brutal. On Monday, Atlanta broke a 13-year pollen count record, with a 8,164 particles of pollen per cubic meter of air observed by the Atlanta Allergy and Asthma Clinic.

The previous record was 6,013 particles, detected on April 12, 1999.

The website Pollen.com, which tracks pollen nationwide, shows high pollen counts from Virginia to Florida, extending westward to Arkansas and parts of Texas. There are also pockets of high pollen activity in Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nevada, California and Arizona.
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Experimental treatment may help food allergies
March 5th, 2012
12:00 AM ET

Experimental treatment may help food allergies

Food allergies are tricky business. They're on the rise in the United States and no one knows why.

Some children are allergic to many foods, and it's impossible to know based on preventive testing whether someone will have a mild or severe reaction. And so far there's no cure.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University and Duke University are working on a treatment that may one day allow kids with allergies to safely eat the foods that cause them life-threatening reactions. It's still in the early stages, but Dr. Robert Wood of Johns Hopkins, who has been on the forefront of food allergy research, estimates the treatment could be brought to the public within six to eight years.
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On Comet, on Cupid, on Donner and... Wheezy?
December 8th, 2011
10:55 AM ET

On Comet, on Cupid, on Donner and... Wheezy?

Jack Frost isn't the only thing nipping at your nose this holiday season.

Although the allergy season has its peaks in spring and fall, the sights and smells of the holiday season can also be one big allergy Grinch. From Christmas trees to chestnuts, and all the dusty decorations that were kept in storage the other 11 months of the year, Yuletide cheer can leave many allergy-sensitive people looking like Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer.

One such sufferer, Jessica Aguiar, says she's been allergic to pine trees since she was a child, so she's unable to purchase a "real" tree to display her holiday cheer.

Her symptoms include watery eyes, sneezing and - if she actually touches a tree - a skin rash. "Not the Christmas decorations I'd like to wear," she jokes.
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Filed under: Allergies

Deaths are a reminder of food allergy dangers
August 26th, 2011
07:30 AM ET

Deaths are a reminder of food allergy dangers

Sloane Miller, MFA, MSW, LMSW is an author, food allergy advocate and life coach. She works with people of all ages to manage their food allergies safely and effectively while still having fun. Her book, Allergic Girl: Adventures in Living Well With Food Allergies and her award-winning blog, Please Don't Pass the Nuts, offer advice in understanding and living well with food allergies.

The untimely, tragic and preventable deaths last week of two young men in Georgia highlight the seriousness of food allergies and the need for people with food allergies to have an Emergency Allergy Action Plan.

By local news accounts, Jharrell Dillard, 15 from Lawrenceville, Georgia and Tyler Davis, 20 studying at Kennesaw State University, knew what they were allergic to and were vigilant about what they ate. But this one time, without knowing it, they ate something containing their allergen and, caught without an auotinjector of epinephrine, perished.

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April 4th, 2011
08:40 AM ET

Can I store an allergy auto-injector in my car?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Mondays, it's pediatrician Dr. Jennifer Shu.

Question asked by Samantha of Indiana:

My daughter has a severe food allergy. I keep epinephrine with me at all times and have left injectors in her day care classroom but am worried about not having one if she needs it. Can I keep one in the car for emergencies?

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About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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