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Allergies Getting Worse in the UK – But that’s Not the Whole Story

HSCIC logoIf it seems that your allergies just get worse and worse every year, a new study from the United Kingdom’s Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) suggests you might be onto something. According to the study data, hospitals operated by the UK National Health Service (NHS) saw a nearly eight percent increase in admissions for allergies in the past 12 months, of which 62 percent were classified as emergencies. The year before, only 56 percent of allergy hospital visits were emergencies, which means that allergy in the UK is becoming both more common and possibly more dangerous.

This confirms the findings of several other studies, which all indicate that the prevalence of allergies (food, perennial and seasonal) has been on the rise around the world for more than a decade. While many theories exist to explain this phenomenon, no one is totally sure what’s behind this increase.

What alarms us most about the data isn’t the rise in allergy prevalence – we’ve known that – it’s that emergency admissions are rising with it. There’s so much more in the media and online about better allergy diagnosis and

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July 08 / 2014
Author Becky Rosenberger
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“It’s Best to Test” With Haydn’s Wish

Haydns wishWe’re always on the lookout for organizations that are doing new and inventive things to raise awareness about food allergies – so when we heard that the UK-based non-profit Haydn’s Wish had a new campaign called “It’s Best to Test” going on, we reached out to them right away! The organization’s founder, Emma Wileman, was kind enough to sit down with us for an interview. Check out our conversation below!

Is It Allergy?: Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with us, Emma. To start, could you tell us a little bit about how Haydn’s Wish got started?

Emma Wileman: Absolutely. I started Haydn’s Wish after my son Haydn passed away from an unexpected reaction to peanut. We never knew that Haydn was allergic to peanuts; he had shown sporadic allergy-related symptoms before, but he had never experienced anaphylaxis. Our mission is to prevent tragedies like this from happening to other families by educating our communities and our doctors about food allergy.

IIA: Thanks for sharing that story – it must be very difficult to talk about the loss of your son.

EW: It is, but the goal of Haydn’s

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June 16 / 2014
Author Becky Rosenberger
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Changing the Allergy Narrative: No Wimps Allowed

Norwegian skier Aksel Lund Svindal is no wimp.  Standing at more than six feet tall, Svindal is an imposing figure who won three medals at the 2010 Vancouver Games.  He was a favorite before Sochi, but instead allergies derailed him, something competitors couldn’t do during the last winter Olympics.

Svindal’s bout with allergies, while unfortunate, is an important reminder that allergies are serious and should be taken seriously.  Through open discussions about world-class athletes, actors and other role models, perhaps we can continue to chip away at stereotypes that often lead to shame, isolation or, in some cases, even bullying.800px-Bully_Free_Zone

We’ve highlighted the issue of allergy and bullying on this blog in the past, including a post by Dr. Maeve O’Connor, a board certified allergist/immunologist, and one about teen star Kenton Duty, who discusses his experiences with food allergies, bullying and his current advocacy work.

Beyond the experts and stars who advocate against bullying, we applaud the work of organizations such as the Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE).  FARE’s “True Stories” campaign helps by spreading awareness of food allergy bullying and letting victims of bullying know that they’re not

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June 03 / 2014
Author Becky Rosenberger
Category Food Allergies
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Talking Food Allergy with Carol Greenwald, Senior Executive Producer of PBS Kids’ Arthur

As any allergy parent knows, there are thousands of websites out there dedicated to teaching adults how to cope with their child’s food allergy. Conspicuously absent, however, are resources that approach allergy from a kid’s perspective. While kid-focused materials may not seem as important as advice for adults, they actually play a critical role in helping a child navigate the fear, uncertainty and anxiety that come with a food allergy diagnosis.

To help fill this gap in allergy education, the people behind the PBS Kids show Arthur launched their new Arthur Family Health website earlier this year. Designed to help children understand wellness issues – including food allergy – the site highlights episodes from the show’s 18-year run that feature a character dealing with a common health problem.

To learn more about how the show helps kids understand food allergy, we sat down with Carol Greenwald, Senior Executive Producer of Children’s Programs at WGBH Boston, to talk about “Binky Goes Nuts,” an episode of

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May 22 / 2014
Author Becky Rosenberger
Category Interviews
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Are Indoor and Outdoor Allergens Making Your Asthma Worse?

I’ve met a lot of people both in and out of the doctor’s office who suffer from asthma, and many of them have the same problem:  they’re too focused on treating the symptoms of their asthma and not enough on its causes. Yes, it’s wise to heed the advice of those who recommend that people with asthma carry inhalers for emergencies, but I also subscribe to the adage that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” If more asthmatics understood the underlying causes of their disease, they’d have an easier time managing their symptoms.

asthma before and after

That’s why I was pleased to see a study on asthma management in a recent issue of the Journal of Asthma, a respected medical publication. The study, which has a long title and is very technical, explores the relationship between exposure to indoor and outdoor allergens and asthma. The basic idea is that most people with asthma are also sensitized to one or more airborne allergens, or “aeroallergens.”

This type of asthma is commonly called “allergy induced asthma,” and people who have it are at risk of more than just a

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May 09 / 2014
Author Becky Rosenberger
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Could Flights Be More “Allergy Friendly”?

One thing we always try to stress on our blog is the difference between allergy symptoms and allergy causes. When you’re in the midst of a terrible bout of hay fever, this distinction may seem trivial; but in reality, it’s a critical part of allergy treatment. All too often, people experience symptoms that could be caused by allergy – from coughing and sneezing to digestion problems – and jump to the conclusion that an allergy is the cause of their problems. But because allergies require a very specific type of treatment that’s distinct from other respiratory or digestive issues, any misdiagnosis can make managing symptoms very difficult.

800px-Airplane_(PSF)We thought of this when we read about the “World’s First ‘Allergy-Friendly’ Flights” on ABC News’ website the other day. The article highlights a new “allergy friendly” designation that Swiss Airlines has received from the European Centre for Allergy Research Foundation (ECARF). The airline was awarded this designation because it’s now offering lactose- and gluten-free in-flight foods, synthetic material pillows and pollen-filtering air conditioning on its flights. In addition, the airline will stop using “decorative flowers and air fresheners ‘that might cause

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May 07 / 2014
Author Wendy Harman
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