Day 2 – Introduction to Allergies

Allergies (food or environmental), asthma and eczema are among the allergy related conditions that may be seasonal, lifelong or outgrown.  It is possible if you have one condition, there is a greater likelihood to develop others. But there are cases where it’s unrelated or just a singular event.
Here are five things you should know about allergy-related conditions:
·       Allergens stimulate your body’s immune response to whatever you touch, breathe, ingest from foods or drinks or from medication injections, causing your body to defend itself and overreact to substances, such as peanuts and pollens (allergens). Eczema (atopic dermatitis) is a type of itchy rash that can flare up when exposed to triggers such as allergens, heat and dry skin. In the winter and summer months on the East Coast, I’m always on high alert for eczema. Watching a baby suffer with itchy skin, even when treated with hydrocortisone cream can make you feel helpless, but http://itchylittleworld.com/  offers good advice and resources to deal with eczema for your little ones.
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·       Allergies can trigger asthma, which is inflammation of the lungs and airway, making it difficult to breathe. Irritants for asthma can range from pollen, dust, and pollution to tobacco smoke and exercise. As soon as the spring season (pollen) and fall season arrives (ragweed) nears, keep the shelves stocked with antihistamines. It is especially helpful to track your local allergy forecast using the tools at www.pollen.com in order to manage your allergies and asthma during seasons with known triggers.  
·        Symptoms of an allergic reaction can cross the spectrum from itchy eyes, sneezing, coughing and wheezing to anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is an allergic symptoms that can affect different areas of body, causes difficulty breathing and can be fatal without the immediate administration of epinephrine (EpiPen). Food allergies are the most common cause of anaphylaxis, but other allergens can risk a anaphylactic reaction and it can be severe for those who have asthma. For those newly diagnosed with the risk of anaphylaxis, The Allergist Mom has an informative post that explains the science and symptoms behind anaphylaxis.
      You can now request a $0 co-pay EpiPen Card and save on your 2-pak prescription, visit www.epipen.com to learn more.
     
      

·        Schools are a high risk environment for food allergy reactions and one in 25 school-aged kids have food allergies according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For those who are newly diagnosed with food allergies and anaphylaxis, it may be helpful to have an Anaphylaxis Action Plan that has been reviewed and approved by your physician and accessible for anyone who cares for your child. Samples are available for download at AAAAI and FARE
 

·      Federal legislation was introduced in 2011 to allow schools to have stock epinephrine auto-injectors. Today, nearly two dozen states have introduced some form of School Access to Emergency Epinephrine legislation to save the lives of those who experience an anaphylactic reaction and for those who lack a prescribed EpiPen (epinephrine auto-injector) in their states, including my home state of Maryland. Support is still needed to urge passage of federal legislation. Visit Food Allergy and Research Education to learn more and write your representative and senator. 

About 46-76 percent of food allergy reactions happen in the classroom
·        The top eight allergens are eggs, milk, wheat, fish, shellfish, nuts, tree nuts and soy.  But there are other allergens such as fruits and vegetables.  Those with celiac disease are also at risk for food allergies and you can check out one person’s journey at http://celiacandallergyadventures.wordpress.com/2013/03/18/what-is-oral-allergy-syndrome/. When I find it difficult to manage my own daughter’s food allergies, I also visit http://allergicgirl.blogspot.com/ as a reminder there are ways to thrive with food allergies.

Day 1- Why I write about the allergy triad – allergies, asthma and eczema

As part of WEGO Health’s 2013 Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge, #HAWMC, I am going to take you on our journey over the next 30 days on how to deal and support those who fall within the allergy triad – or what I affectionately call the triple threat.

When I gave birth to my daughter, a passion to write and tweet @theallergymama about her health condition came to life. She developed eczema as a baby and around the age of two, we discovered she had food allergies. After her first bite of a fish flake she turned into a blowfish with swollen eyes and cried about itching. Not a good sign.  Then came spring and so did her wheezing. Welcome Asthma!
After she was seen by her pediatrician and allergist, we were educated about the allergy triad – allergies, asthma and eczema. Our daughter’s journey to live with the risk of anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction that can become fatal) and allergy-related conditions has driven me to become a health activist.  We’re managing asthma through every season, dealing with potentially life-threatening food allergies and eczema has recently become less of a problem.  I’m grateful my doctor warned me to about the ‘triad’ of allergy-related conditions. But, I never imagined it would be so life-changing. While no one can walk around in bubble and I would love to shield my daughter from every type of nut, seafood, grass and tree pollens – I cannot. But what I can do is help her on this journey by creating understanding about the seriousness of allergy-related conditions, managing it, and hopefully help others along the way. 
I am a newbie to #HAWMC, but not the health activist journey. I welcome you to join me on this journey and support others who deal with any allergy-related condition.