Archive for August, 2014

An Allergy Can Turn You Into A Reluctant Vegeterian

I have a friend, a retired doctor, who is a vegetarian. He is strict and won’t eat any red meat, chicken or fish. I know that eating vegetarian is healthy, but once and a while I like a pastrami sandwich, you know what I mean.

But for some people, being vegetarian is not a matter of choice.

Doctors across the country are seeing a phenomenon in which people are suddenly allergic to meat because they were bitten by a certain type of tick.

Most people associate tick bites with other diseases, such as Lyme disease. But this tick is different. Called the Lone Star tick, named for the state of Texas–it has caused severe allergic reactions in people who have eaten a burger or a steak and has landed them in the hospital. The allergy has spread from the Southwest and the East and is spreading to other parts of the US.

An interesting article in Science Daily quotes Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Dr. Robert Valet who says, “it is not completely understood exactly how the allergy starts. The thought is that the tick has an alpha-gal sugar in its gut and introduces it as part of the allergic bite and that causes the production of the allergy antibody threat then cross-reacts to the meat.”

Vanderbilt reports seeing one or more new cases each week.

In the Wall Street Journal, Dr. Erin McGintee, an allergist on Long Island has reported to have seen as many as 200 Lone Star tick cases in the last three years. She says “the symptoms can occur as long as eight hours afte eating meat rather than immediately.

Allergic symptoms, said Dr. Valet, can range from the hives and swelling, to broader ones such as vomiting, diarrhea, trouble breathing, and a drop in lood pressure. Other symptoms such as itching can be treated with antihistamines, but severe or broader ones can only be treated with epinephrine.

People who have suffered an allergic attack are encouraged to carry an EpiPen in case of a reoccurance of symptoms from cross-contimination of any food associated with red meat.


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What You Should Know About COPD

A lot of my practice deals with allergies and asthma. But I also deal with a disease that can be confused with asthma, COPD.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to the Mayo Clinic, is a group of lung diseases that block airflow and make breathing difficult. The two primary examples of COPD are emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

States the Mayo Clinic website, “in chronic bronchitis, there is an inflammation of the lining your bronchial tubes, which carry air to and from your lungs. Emphysema occurs when the air saces (alveoli) at the end of the smallest air passages (bronchioles) in the lungs are gradually destroyed.

Now there are similarities between COPD and asthma. In an interesting article in the Medscape Journal, the publication characterizes the commonality of symptoms: It states “both are characterized by a reduced rate of pulmonary airflow from increased inflammation. Airway obstruction is typically fully or nearly fully reversible in patients with asthma, whereas COPD is characterized by airway obstruction that is not fully reversible.”

However, the causes of asthma and COPD are different. Asthmatics may have a genetic predisposition to their illness, which tends to run in families. However, not all predisposed family members may get asthma. Some experts theorize that respiratory infections in infancy or early childhood may play a major role in the disease.

COPD on the other hand, has a more definitive cause. Smoking constitutes a majority of cases in 85 to 90 percent of COPD deaths. Moreover, exposure to air pollution, chemicals, and secondhand smoke can also cause it. In rare cases, says the American Lung Association, there is a genetic defect called alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, constituting 2 to 3 percent of all COPD cases.

COPD is often not diagnosed in people until they reach 40 years of age. Asthma cases are diagnosed very early; children often exhibit symptoms at the age of 5. COPD is a progressive disease, unlike asthma, where is some cases some children may even outgrow the condition as they get older.

While medical treatment for COPD may not repair structural changes in already damaged lung tissue, it can slow down the progression of the disease.


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