Lactose intolerance is a digestive condition that happens when an individual does not produce enough lactase enzymes in the small intestine to digest the lactose in dairy products. Symptoms of lactose intolerance include diarrhea, nausea, abdominal cramping and bloating. Some of the symptoms of lactose intolerance and a food allergy may be similar. However, the difference between intolerant to dairy and having a food allergy to dairy is important. Consuming a dairy product can make you miserable if you are intolerant to it. The reaction to a food allergy can be life threatening.
Diagnosing lactose intolerance can be done through three different tests. During a lactose tolerance test, your doctor will measure the glucose in your blood after you drink a high lactose beverage. A hydrogen breath test is essentially the same but after drinking the high lactose beverage, you will be asked to breath into a device that will measure hydrogen levels in your system. If you are not able to tolerate either of these tests, your doctor can also perform a stool acid test.
There is no cure for lactose intolerance but you can manage your symptoms by avoiding dairy products or by taking an enzyme medication to assist with the lactose breakdown in your intestines. It is very important to be seen by an allergist to determine if you have an “intolerance” or “allergy” to lactose before making any changes to your diet or taking medications.
Latex allergy occurs when the body’s immune system overreacts to proteins found in natural rubber latex. Natural rubber latex is used to make some gloves, condoms, balloons, rubber bands, erasers and toys. Latex can also be in bottle nipples and pacifiers. Synthetic products, including latex house paints, have not been shown to pose any hazard to latex-sensitive individuals. Certain fruits and vegetables (such as bananas, chestnuts, kiwi, avocado and tomato) can cause allergic symptoms in some latex-sensitive individuals. Exposure to latex often results in contact dermatitis* symptoms. However, in some individuals, latex allergy can trigger a life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis.
Mast cells play an important role in the immune system, and these cells are directly related to allergic reactions. If you have allergies and are exposed to an allergen, your immune system senses a foreign invader. This triggers mast cells to release an inflammatory substance called histamine, causing an allergic reaction.
Nasal polyps are growths on the lining of the sinuses and nasal passages. Nasal polyps can develop when the mucous membrane of your nasal passages and sinuses are inflamed, typically for 12 weeks or more. Some of these growths can be large enough to block the nasal passages. When this occurs, it can lead to breathing problems, frequent sinus infections or loss of ability to smell. Nasal polyps are often associated with respiratory diseases such as allergic rhinitis, rhinosinusitis (chronic sinusitis), asthma or cystic fibrosis. Sensitivity to aspirin can also lead to the development of nasal polyps.
Common symptoms of nasal polyps include:
• Runny nose with clear or colored mucus
• Stuffy nose
• Postnasal drip
• Loss or decreased sense of smell and taste
• Headache, sinus pressure
• Itching around the eyes
Occupational asthma is caused by inhaling fumes, gases, dust or other potentially harmful substances while “on the job.” Irritants in high doses that induce occupational asthma include hydrochloric acid, sulfur dioxide or ammonia, which is found in the petroleum or chemical industries. If you are exposed to any of these substances at high concentrations, you may begin wheezing and experiencing other asthma symptoms immediately after exposure. Workers who already have asthma or some other respiratory disorder may also experience an increase in their symptoms during exposure to these irritants. Often, asthma symptoms are worse during days or nights you work, improve when you have time off and start again when you go back to work. People with a family history of allergies are more likely to develop occupational asthma, particularly to some substances such as flour, animals and latex. Allergies play a role in many cases of occupational asthma. This type of asthma generally develops only after months or years of exposure to a work-related substance.
The proteins found in some fruits and vegetables are very similar to those found in particular pollen. These proteins can confuse the immune system in people with food or outdoor allergies. The result is called oral allergy syndrome (OAS). For instance, if you are allergic to birch tree pollen, a primary airborne allergen responsible for symptoms in the springtime, you may have reactions triggered by peach, apple, pear, kiwi, plum, coriander, fennel, parsley, celery, cherry and carrot. The most frequent reaction involves itchiness or swelling of the mouth, face, lip, tongue and throat. Symptoms usually appear immediately after eating raw fruits or vegetables, although the reaction can occur more than an hour later. Rarely, OAS can cause severe throat swelling or anaphylaxis in a person who is highly allergic.
A peak flow meter for asthma is a handheld meter that measures how well air flows out of the lungs. Measuring your peak flow using this device is an important part of managing your asthma symptoms and preventing an asthma attack. That is because sometimes you may feel your breathing is fine, but when you measure it with a peak flow meter, you find your lung function is slightly decreased. A PFM can be used to:
• Determine the severity of your asthma
• Check your response to treatment during an acute asthma episode
• Monitor progress in treatment of chronic asthma and provide information for any changes in your therapy
• Detect worsening lung function and avoid a possible serious asthma flare-up
A peak flow meter can help you and your allergist evaluate how severe your asthma is at any point in time. With a peak flow meter, you can often see a drop in your readings even before your symptoms (like coughing or wheezing) get worse. Decreases in peak flow may show that you need to increase your medication. Another measure of asthma control is peak flow variability. For many people with asthma, symptoms are usually worse at night. By consistently monitoring nighttime peak flow measurements, you can tell how well your asthma is controlled. A decrease of 15% or greater from your usual measurement may be a sign of nighttime asthma. A person without asthma or with well-controlled asthma will consistently blow peak flows that vary less than 15%.
Also known as childhood asthma is the most common serious chronic disease in infants and children; yet is often difficult to diagnose.
In infants and children, asthma may appear as:
•Wheezing (whistling sound) when breathing
•Complaints of chest hurting
•Feeling weak or tired
Some children have symptoms only when exercising or playing a sport. This is called exercise-induced bronchoconstriction*. Childhood asthma, just like asthma in adults, can’t be cured. But with the right medications and treatment plan, symptoms can be controlled. This is extremely important in order to prevent damage to growing lungs.
Risk factors for developing pediatric asthma:
•Family history of allergies and/or asthma
•Frequent respiratory infections
•Low birth weight
•Second-hand smoke before and/or after birth
•Growing up in a low income, urban environment