We have guide dogs, hearing dogs and now allergy dogs. We are all too aware how life-changing guide dogs and hearing dogs can be for their owners giving them their freedom and independence.
Six year old boy, Mason, who has suffered thousands of allergic reactions, even anaphlayatic reactions that have been life threatening, is about to have his own ‘guardian’ in the shape of a Golden Retriever called Storm.
Storm is being trained to detect changes in Mason that are a sign he is about to have an allergic reaction and to warn Mason and others around him. Mason is allergic to dogs, so it took 18 months to up build his immunity to the breed first.
How wonderful it will be if Storm can give Mason the opportunity to go to friends birthday parties and outings as any other little boy. Let's hope this is just the beginning of dogs that can help many serious allergy sufferers.
An allergy to peanuts is recognised as one of the most severe food allergies due to its prevalence, persistency and potential severity of allergic reaction which can result in anaphylaxis. The principle treatment at the moment is the use of an Epipen injection which must be carried at all times.
However, Australian researchers have carried out a small clinical trial which has seen positive results in 82% of the children on the trial who had received the immunotherapy treatment had become tolerant to peanuts.
At Allergy Medical UK we are aware of how effective immunotherapy is in ‘re-educating’ the immune system so we are really excited about this treatment and hope it will be widely available very soon. Read here :New Peanut Allergy Treatment
A number of British allergy specialists were recently asked to share their views on allergy, its management and any optional measures to prevent it.
Their views have been published in the magazine of Champneys, a group of health resorts well known for promoting healthy living:
Link to Champneys Article
It is quite clear that, whilst a number of safe and effective methods of prevention of allergies exists, only a fraction of doctors in the UK know of them, recommend them or use them.
Surprise, surprise! Mediterranean diet may be reducing risk of Alzheimer's.
Do read : Mediterranean Diet &Alzheimer's
I must have seen at least 10 studies in the last two years that extol the virtues of eating lots of salads, vegetables, olive oil and fish, excluding most other common foods in order to reduce the risk of dementia or improve mental faculties, when Alzheimer's has been diagnosed.
In a way this is not as extraordinary as it sounds: similar diets have been proven effective in reversing several so-called "auto-immune" diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, Crohn's disease. In clinics like ours, such diets have been used because they are known to help people with cancer, multiple sclerosis, cardio-vascular disease, hypertension, depression - do I need to go on, you get the gist? Doctors using similar diets over the last four decades, have often been called "quacks" by their learned colleagues.
The burning question is, "how much does it take for the medical profession to wake up and start using these methods which are simple, patient-enpowering, reduce doctors' workload and NHS costs?".
The well known 20th Century philosopher Carl Poppa observed: "True ignorance is not the absence of knowledge but the persistent denial of facts"!
I couldn’t help but be touched by the recent item on the BBC news about the death four years ago of Lisa Dennis at the age of 10 years.
Lisa died following an asthma attack. Although she had an inhaler for an allergy, her parents were not aware she was an asthmatic. According to her family the word “asthma” was never mentioned.
Dr Satish Rao of the Birmingham Children’s Hospital, who looks after difficult asthma cases, says “one of the biggest frustrations for us is the complacency among healthcare professionals about asthma in children and young people. We have tried to convince professionals that asthma is a serious illness.” Dr Rao believes many deaths could be prevented by better information about when to seek medical help.
Asthma UK’s clinic lead, Dr Andy Whittamore, says there is a lot of concern by both parents and children to use the steroid medication properly as steroids have had bad press.
How much better it would be if the cause of the asthma was diagnosed and treated, rather than just symptom control with medication.
The aim of our clinics is to identify the cause which for asthma could be inhalant allergies, i.e. dust, house dust mites, pets or moulds; or it could be dietary. Some patients find that their symptoms get worse after eating certain foods or additives.
We recommend skin prick tests or blood tests to identify the culprits if inhalant allergies are suspected. If this is the case they can be treated with desensitisation if avoidance is not possible. If foods is the cause, dietary changes can we made or, if impractical, desensitisation can also be used.
Cupcakes have become extremely popular, thanks to Mary Berry to a large extent. As delicious as they may be, one in particular has caused a rise in a food allergies.
The red velvet cupcake contains cochineal as its food colourant. Cochineal is an insect, mainly found in South America and Mexico, that produces carmine acid to deter its predators. This acid can be extracted from the body and eggs of the insect and when mixed with aluminium or calcium salts makes the carmine dye or cochineal. This is used primarily as a food colourant and in lipsticks.
As Dr Isabel Skypala, consultant allergy dietician at the Royal Brompton Hospital explains, our diets have changed according to the different foods we are exposed to. This has meant that there food allergies now seen have also changed and also increased.
In 2015 the Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) estimated that diesel "particulates" are directly and indirectly responsible for an average of 52,000 deaths per annum in Britain, mainly associated with severe asthma, cardio-vascular disease and cancer. For people understanding the role of nutrition in human health, it will not come as a surprise to hear that another group of essential nutrients such as the vitamin B's have a protective effect against changes in the immune system and free radical damage, which are known to initiate serious, life threatening health problems.
BBC Health News
In our clinics we have been using these, combined with other important nutrients as intravenous drips to increase the body resistance to a range of such agents, when a person's life is threatened. High potency vitamin C, vitamin B12, zinc and glutathione are also used for their anti-oxidant and detoxification properties.
Allergy UK state on their website :
Allergy is the most common chronic disease in Europe. Up to 20% of patients with allergies struggle daily with the fear of a possible asthma attack, anaphylactic shock, or even death from an allergic reaction
Hence scientists are continually researching for “cures” for allergies. 44% of British adults now suffer from at least one allergy and that number is rising.
A team of scientist in Australia believe they have made a breakthrough. With a single treatment severe allergies could be “turned off” by gene therapy giving life-long protection a study claims.
They take blood stem cells, insert a gene which regulates the allergen protein and then put that into the allergy sufferer. Those engineered cells produce new blood cells that target the specific immune cells and turn off the allergic response.
They have tested it on animals and are working on making it simpler and safer to use. Their main target initially will be those with severe asthma or potentially life threatening food allergies.
In the meantime, our allergy clinics offer desensitisation for allergies, as well as identifying the causes of the allergies such as in the case of asthma when the trigger could be foods or inhalants. Our experience is that once the triggers have been identified and are avoided or treated with immunotherapy huge improvements in health can be seen.
Mental health has a high profile at the moment, thanks particularly to the brave openness of Prince Harry in raising awareness by discussing his own personal mental health issues around the death of his mother.
A recent survey of school teachers has highlighted that more children have mental health issues than two years ago. Poverty, poor housing, unemployment and financial insecurity are important causal factors. More than one in six teachers surveyed believed that at least a quarter of students in their school or college were affected by mental health problems. The teachers and schools are poorly equipped to provide the necessary support and the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services are overwhelmed.
In addition to the causes already mentioned, could social media be an additional cause of mental health issues in young people?
Social media has dramatically changed the way we communicate and young people spend their time.
Social media is a powerful positive tool for young people; it provides a platform for their voices to be heard and for them to voice opinions on matters that affect and interest them. It also is very effective in bringing together voices of concern about particular issues, raising awareness and bringing about change. However, it has also transformed our culture into one of over-sharing. Nowadays, many only look at how many pictures they can post or what is the next thing they should post but they don’t look at the effect of social media on mental health. Taking Facebook and Instagram as examples, they allow us to present our own filtered sense of reality, showing only what we want to show.
This can lead to a person critically comparing their life with other people’s and using others’ posts as measures for successes and failures in their own life. The result can be hopeless feelings of low self-esteem and depression. Body dysmorphia is another area affected by social media, body image insecurity can also lead to depression.
Some signs of the negative effect of social media are low self-esteem, feeling low when seeing others images and lifestyle, envy of other people’s lives, using social media as the first and only choice of activity done for enjoyment, not having face to face conversations with friends and family and a feeling of isolation and disconnection.
Recently I read : “The same way second-hand smoke harms the lungs of people around the smoker, smartphones harm the attention and focus of people around the smartphone user. It hijacks our senses. It forces us to pause our conversations and redouble our thoughts unnecessarily. It causes us to lose our train of thought and forget that important point we were constructing in our head. It erodes at our ability to connect and simply be present with one another, destroying intimacy in the process.”
We are probably all guilty of overuse of our devices. Awareness is half the battle. Parents, teachers and friends can look out for the possible signs of mental health deterioration and seek appropriate help.
The latest hope for MS sufferers is a medication called Ocrelizumab - see BBC article on a study just published in the New England Journal of Medicine MS ARTICLE
Apparently the medication is promising because it can slow down the progression of the disease. The clinical trial directly implies that the process of de-myelination, is caused by a person's B-cells (B-lymphocytes) attacking the myelin cover of the neurones, a large part of one's central nervous system. Only a couple of weeks ago, schizophrenia hit the headlines, for also being identified as an "auto-immune" condition - news pretty unsettling for the psychiatrists!
To many clinical allergists who are trained to think "outside the box" this is not a new concept; it confirms that MS is yet another "immune" problem and explains why so many patients with MS seem to benefit from using modern methods of detoxification, from radical changes in their diet, from using natural nutrients oral or intravenously and from assessing their metal load and removing as much of it as they can. This is often being dismissed by neurologists as a "spontaneous resolution", oblivious to the so-called MS crisis, when these patients remove their metal fillings without due protection or when they relax their strict dietary regimes.
It is a great pity that, in spite of so many modern day conditions attributed to our immediate environment and unhealthy life styles, Healthcare policies in the western world, rarely consider investing more on assessing the role of these factors in such disabling health issues. Pills are only a short term option to customised analysis and treatment of these conditions and they never come without a risk of side effects.