Currently viewing the tag: "allergies"

iPad RashWell more trouble for iPad users. If iPad neck wasn’t enough, now you’ve got to contend with iPad allergies. Yup, you got that right—iPads are causing allergies in some users. And before you think your Kindle or cellphone is off the hook, all new tablet/phone technology is being implicated, even laptops. Doh!

According to recent reports in medical journals, nickel used in the outer casings of various electronic devices can cause an allergy in some people. Nickel—one of the most allergy inducing metals—can cause uncomfortable skin rashes, like that which happened to an 11-year-old boy who used an iPad daily, as reported in the recent issue of Pediatrics. His rash was throughout his whole body, and although he has a known condition causing scaly skin, this particular rash did not go away prompting the skin testing.

It turns out that diagnosed nickel allergies—as determined by skin testing—are on the rise. According to national data, about 25 percent of children who get skin tested have allergies to nickel, versus about 17 percent a decade ago. Fortunately, nickel allergies are not life threatening and can be treated with steroids (or iPad use discontinuation…er, scratch that).

A simple and better long-term solution is to put your iPads and cell phones in protective cases. Since the nickel is on the outer covering itself, it only makes sense. Anyway, cases protect the devices from breaking, so duh…

Flip-Phones-Cause-Nickel-Allergies (Copy)Not everyone has to worry about nickel allergies, however. If you are, in fact, allergic to nickel but don’t know it yet, you will get a reaction from contact with nickel anywhere from minutes to never. According to to an advisory about cellphones on the website of the  Nickel Institute, a global association based in Toronto representing nickel producers, the risk arises from contact with nickel-plated outer surfaces “over prolonged periods of time,” so again, a protective cover seems the simplest method for prevention.

“The length of time required to elicit an allergic reaction will vary from 5 or 10 minutes to never, depending on the sensitivity of the individual,” the advisory says. And a nickel allergy rash doesn’t have to come from electronic devices; it can also develop from jewelry, eyeglass frames and zippers.

So if you have developed an unexplained rash you might want to get skin tested for nickel allergies. And, of course, doctors need to be on the alert for this uncommon, but growing, condition. Yes, our modern conveniences are godsends, but remember that nothing comes without its downside; and for our mobile computing devices, looks like nickel allergies are at least one…for now.


fat-meal-restaurants (Copy)When it comes to good nutrition, there is little doubt that eating out is inferior to dining at home. People whose lifestyles dictate that they primarily eat on the road are coming out the worst for it. Studies show that foods prepared at restaurants—whether fast-food or sit down—are higher in calories, saturated fat, salt and sugar, and lower in dietary fiber. A recent European study has even found a link between eating fast-food and the increased incidence of allergies, asthma and eczema in children.

According to an international collaboration that included researchers in New Zealand, Spain, Australia, Germany and the UK, young teenagers are particularly likely to have severe asthma (nearly 40% greater incidence) if they eat burgers and other types of fast-food more than three times a week. For children aged six to seven the risk increased by 27%. Children eating fast-food were also more likely to get severe eczema and rhinitis (stuffy, runny nose and itchy, watery eyes). The results were published in the journal Thorax.

Despite being too soon to show causation, the paper says that the link between fast-foods and asthma/allergies is entirely plausible. It could be “related to higher saturated fatty acids, trans fatty acids, sodium, carbohydrates and sugar levels of fast-food and possibly preservatives”.

sugarYes, every compounds above could potentially be the culprit, if causation is actually determined. But it may even be simpler than that. Last post I discussed the four dietary universals—energy, nutrition, hydration and environment—and I also discussed how a junk food diet increased the likelihood of having none of the universals satisfied, so it is also possible that the resulting sub-clinical malnourishment from a chronic fast-food diet can lead to an overall weakening of a body’s constitution, thereby setting it up for immune dysfunction.

Here’s the skinny (pun intended, pun intended!): Repeatedly eating out is murder on the body. It doesn’t matter how “nice” the restaurant might be, food prepared outside of the home will nearly always have more calories, preservatives, salt and sugar than food prepared at home—it’s got to taste good, fer crying out loud. And it will always have a higher probability of causing foodborne illness (food poisoning). Not that one can’t get food poisoning from food prepared inside their own kitchen, but realize this: Food from a restaurant touches an inordinately greater amount of hands than the food you purchase fresh. Yes, foods obtained at a grocery store are handled as well, no doubt, but food at restaurants is handled way more, believe me. I worked in restaurants for years. I know.

092585524589920f0977bbb0be41Listen, eating out is fun. Some of the most amazing food I’ve ever experienced has been at restaurants, but anything more than occasionally just isn’t conducive to optimal health. The bad news is that Americans in general, and probably the entire western world, seem to be eating out more than ever before. A new report from USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) reveals food prepared away from home—whether eaten in restaurants, fast-food and other locations, or as take-out or delivery to be eaten at home—is now a routine part of most Americans’ diets, accounting for 41% of food expenditures and 32% of caloric intake.

The good news, on the other hand, is that a 2011 survey showed that home cooking has become an increasingly popular among younger generations (18-35 year-olds). Wonderful! That’s the way it should be. I am pleased to see young folk interested in this type of living—it’s smart and will take them farthest with regard to health and quality of life.

I’ve included a video below to gross you out. I am grateful for the access to this kind of information on the Web, because people should know what they actually don’t see behind a kitchen’s closed doors. Enjoy, but have barf-bag handy.


Sorry cat lovers, but it is a dog in the home that might just help prevent eczema in your child.  Yup, poochie prophylactics we call ‘em, and a recent study shows that it might just do the trick, immunologically, to keep your kid from developing the itchy skin inflammation.

The study, done in Cincinnati, found that children with a dog in the home at age 1 had a significantly reduced risk of eczema at age 4, but children who had a cat were more likely to have the ailment at the same age.  And get this, a dog in the child’s home also seemed to protect against allergies to cats.  Woof, woof, woof…

Over 600 newborns were looked at, some testing positive for dog allergies (meaning they were allergic even though they had no symptom), some not.  Of those testing positive, the children that did not live with a dog had four times the risk of getting eczema by age 4 than those who tested positive and did own a dog.  The higher the dog allergen levels were in the homes, the lower the risk was for the child developing eczema.

“It’s speculative, but possible that the protective effect is due to a sort of natural immunotherapy where children who are exposed to dogs become tolerant over time in the same way that people on allergy shots develop tolerance to allergens,” said study author Dr. Tolly Epstein, an assistant professor in the division of immunology, allergy and rheumatology at the University of Cincinnati Medical School.

Not all experts see the results as definitive, though.  Dr. Wanda Phipatanakul, an associate physician at Children’s Hospital in Boston, contends that other research has shown conflicting results on the impact of cats and dogs on the development of eczema.

“The jury is still out,” said Phipatanakul, who is also an assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. “I don’t think anyone, including the authors, is saying to go get a few dogs, or don’t get a cat to reduce your risk.”

True, but you’ve got to admit, the results are interesting.  Preliminary as they may be, with more studies surely on their way, these findings are encouraging.  If they turn out to be correct, then the results might just show a greater symbiosis between man and his best friend.

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