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Asthma and Allergy Care on Wheels

When most people think about asthma and allergy care, they think of going to a clinic or emergency room. Now, thanks to the Breathmobile, asthma and allergy treatment comes to you. Breathmobiles are large mobile clinics that travel through major cities offering asthma and allergy treatment. In collaboration with the American Breathmobile Association California Regional, the Breathmobile program is run by the American Breathmobile Association (ABMA), a charitable organization dedicated to providing children, young adults and seniors with asthma and allergy care.

While it may be difficult to imagine receiving asthma or allergy treatment in a vehicle, the Breathmobile is a fully equipped mobile asthma and allergy clinic that visits schools where children are more likely to be uninsured. The service doesn’t require a referral and there is no charge for diagnosis or treatment. Patients are treated regardless of whether or not they have insurance. The services offered by each Breathmobile include an asthma and allergy evaluation by a medical specialist; ongoing medical treatment for asthma and allergies; education and training on the management of asthma and allergies; referral to county and community resources; and assistance to families in obtaining health insurance.

In 1995, a collaboration between

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April 28 / 2014
Author Becky Rosenberger
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Peanuts During Pregnancy – to Eat or not to Eat?

It’s well-known that controlled exposure to allergens can help people build resistance – in fact, the entire science of allergen immunotherapy (allergy drops or shots) is built around this concept. In a surprising new development, though, a study published by JAMA Pediatrics suggests that this effect may work on unborn children as well.

The study, which was recently covered by the New York Times, found that children born to non-allergic mothers with higher peanut/tree nut consumption during pregnancy had a lower risk of developing a peanut/tree nut allergy. Though the Times article doesn’t go into why this happens, we thought it would be fun to talk about some of the science behind allergy and offer up an idea of the cause of this phenomenon.

The basic mechanism behind allergy is rather simple: when an allergic person breathes or eats one of their allergens, their immune system mistakenly identifies it as an invader and goes on the attack. Allergen immunotherapy works by introducing small, controlled amounts of an allergen to the allergic person, which can potentially “teach” the immune system that the allergen isn’t actually dangerous. In turn, this

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March 10 / 2014
Author Wendy Harman
Category Food, Food Allergies
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The Peanut: A Common Self-Diagnosis Scapegoat

Not all restaurants are like Chick-fil-A, which is why self-diagnosis is such a hard thing. We’re not endorsing the restaurant here, but they are helping us make an important point: when it comes to your health, research, research, research – and then check with your doctor.

Let’s illustrate this with a simple scenario. You’ve just dined at Chick-fil-A, and as you work off your lunch while mall shopping, your lips start to tingle and your tongue itches. Your friend says: “hmm, you must be allergic to something you had for lunch, maybe that chicken sandwich.” Suddenly, you remember that the restaurant clearly stated on the menu that the sandwich was cooked in peanut oil. While you’ve never been diagnosed with a peanut allergy, that explanation seems as good as any.

799px-Arachis_hypogaea_004You may indeed be allergic to peanuts (among other things), but it’s unlikely the frying oil is the culprit. Oops, you just made an ill-informed self-diagnosis. How do we know? Chick-fil-A makes that easy by providing the following on its ingredients page:

“Our peanut oil is a high-temperature, heat-processed, fully refined peanut oil (refined, bleached and deodorized). This means the proteins in

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February 18 / 2014
Author Becky Rosenberger
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New Study Shows Oral Immunotherapy Could Benefit Children with Peanut Allergies

According to a recent study by Cambridge University Hospitals (UK) published in The Lancet on January 29, children and adolescents with peanut allergies could benefit from oral immunotherapy (OIT). Following six months of OIT, in which peanut protein was consumed in increasingly larger amounts on a regular basis to build up tolerance, 84-91% of children could safely tolerate ingestion of 800 mg of peanut protein – at least 25 times as much peanut protein as they could before the therapy.

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Study leader Dr. Andrew Clark described how this treatment allowed children with varying severities of peanut allergy to ingest quantities of peanuts way above the levels found in contaminated snacks and meals. Clark noted that “the families involved in this study say that it has changed their lives dramatically.”

The Stop II trial was conducted in two phases. In the first part, 99 children aged 7 to 16 years-old with varying severities of peanut allergy were randomly assigned to receive either 26 weeks of OIT with doses increasing gradually up to 800 mg/day or peanut avoidance. After being divided in two groups, each child participated in a double-blind placebo-controlled food

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January 30 / 2014
Author Wendy Harman
Category Food Allergies
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Two Asthma Diagnostic Tools That Remain “Woefully Underutilized”

As with allergies, people tend to think of having asthma as either black or white: you either have it or you don’t. In reality, though, both conditions have shades of gray, and accurate diagnosis can help both asthmatics and allergy sufferers manage their symptoms more effectively.

But don’t take our word for it. This article, which recently appeared in ADVANCE for Respiratory Care & Sleep Medicine, a resource for medical professionals, makes the case that diagnosing the allergic triggers that aggravate allergy-induced asthma can help asthmatics avoid exacerbations.

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Dr. Randhawa asks the simple question: “What if doctors could isolate specific asthma triggers and quantify a patient’s asthma severity?” He goes on to say that “Actually, they can,” and he points to two “woefully underutilized” diagnostic tools available today: specific IgE (s-IgE) blood tests and fractional exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO) testing. Both have proven effective and been cleared by the Food and Drug Administration.

The key phrase here is “woefully underutilized,” especially coming from someone with Dr. Randhawa’s credentials. How can that be? Part of the answer, Dr. Randhawa speculates, is systemic: “too few medical schools still devote too few hours to contemporary

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January 15 / 2014

Can We Reduce Healthcare Costs By Talking More?

Did you know that asthma is one of the top five chronic diseases in the United States and costs the healthcare industry an estimated $56 billion annually? This is just one of the many interesting facts highlighted in a recent article in Managed Healthcare Executive, a magazine read by many in the medical profession. The story’s author goes on to draw a direct connection between allergies and asthma, a topic we’ve been discussing for years.

450px-Doctor's_Office_in_New_OrleansWhat we’d really like to see is this same article in USA Today or your hometown paper. Why? Because, as the article points out, the best way to diagnose allergy and determine a possible allergy/asthma connection is for patients and their doctors to spend time talking. The more patients are informed about their health conditions, the more likely they are to talk to their physician about it.

And why is talking so important? As one of the experts interviewed for the Managed Healthcare article highlights, “Chronic allergies often mean a patient has asthma,” so the diagnosis of allergy becomes even more critical, especially if we’re to begin addressing the costs associated with asthma, not to mention

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January 09 / 2014
Author Wendy Harman
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