Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Allergic To Alcohol

Do you think you’re allergic to alcohol? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. We recently hosted a round table discussion about Alcohol Allergies, and we wanted to write a follow up blog post on this topic to share with those researching the topic on line. However, because there are many different alcohol allergens found in liquors, wines and beers, we are going to break this topic down into a few different posts. 

Let’s first understand the differences between alcohol allergies and alcohol intolerance. 

Reactions to alcohol, whether true alcohol allergies or just intolerances, are some of the most common complaints we get at Hudson Allergy.  Determining if it’s a true allergy is really the first step, because this can be life-threatening. An allergic reaction is typically felt shortly after consuming whatever you’re allergic to. Symptoms can include wheezing, abdominal pain, cramping, hives, difficulty swallowing, and throat swelling. In severe cases it can even be fatal.

Many people have reactions to alcohol that are NOT true allergies. These symptoms include facial flushing, nasal congestion and headache. This can be due to an inherited defect in a protein that normally breaks down alcohol. Alcohol is seen by the body as a toxin, and the body has two proteins that are turned on to help break the alcohol down into something more benign.   

One of the proteins is called ADH1B, which breaks the alcohol down into a chemical called acetaldehyde. This chemical is more toxic than alcohol, and needs to be broken down further by a second enzyme. In some people, their ADH1B works so well that the body turns alcohol into acetaldehyde faster than the second enzyme can break it down. That causes a buildup of the acetaldehyde in the blood.  Acetaldehyde then causes the symptoms of flushing, headache and nasal congestion.  Although not imminently dangerous like an allergic reaction, people with this intolerance to alcohol have a higher risk of esophageal and liver cancer if they continue to drink.

True allergies to alcohol are different than intolerances. Instead of reacting to the buildup of a small molecule like acetaldehyde, truly allergic people react to very large proteins.  Each of the three main types of alcoholic beverages (wine, beer and hard liquor or spirits) can present with different types of allergies. 

If you are interested in reading about specific allergies that are triggered by beer, wine or spirits, please read the following blog posts. Cheers!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Sunscreen allergies: Are you allergic to sunblock?

 Everyone knows that if you are planning on being in the sun you should wear sunscreen. However do you find that you tend to avoid sunscreen because it irritates your skin? It is possible to be allergic to sunscreen.  Here is a list of signs that could mean you’re allergic to sunscreen:

·      redness
·      rash
·      itching
·      burning
·      blistering

There are two main reasons that can cause the “signs” listed above.  If you are experiencing these symptoms, it could be from one of two main causes. Either it’s a true allergy to the chemicals in the sunscreen or it’s a phototoxic reaction to the combination of sunscreen and UV light. Yikes!

In order to better understand the causes, here is a bit of information on how sunscreens work. They either “absorb” UV light or they “reflect” or block UV light.

Sunscreens can contain chemicals that absorb UV radiation and turns into a less toxic form of energy that is less damaging to the skin.  Most sunscreens are of this type.

On the other hand, there are others out there that reflect the light.

Sunscreens can also contain ingredients that physically reflect or block UV light/radiation away from the skin.  Reflectors often contain titanium oxide and zinc oxide and these ingredients rarely cause allergic reactions.   On the other hand, reflectors tend to be a little heavier and are not absorbed well into the skin, which can make it less cosmetically appealing.

Let’s thank David Hasselhoff for illustrating the point:

Now that we’ve talked about types of sunscreens, now let’s dive into the most common chemical s found in sunblock that can cause reactions:

·      Para-Aminobenzoic Acid (PABA)
·      Benzophenones
·      Cinnamates
·      Salicylates.
·      Dibenzoylmethanes
·      Octocrylene

Do you think you have allergies to sunscreen? Here are a few tips from Hudson Allergy’s Allergist Dr. Julie Kuriakose:

1.     Use PABA free sunscreen
2.     If possible, use a sunscreen that contains either zinc oxide or titanium oxide.  However look at the ingredients to make sure it does not also contain allergenic chemical listed above
3.     When using a new sunblock, place a small amount on skin in a non sun-exposed area and monitor for a reaction for up to 72 hours.  If no reaction occurs, again place a small amount on skin however this time on a sun-exposed area and monitor.
4.     If you are having persistent reactions, see an allergist

If you think you may have sunscreen allergy, see your allergist.  Patch testing with specific chemicals in sunscreen can be performed to identify the allergy.

To schedule an appointment, please call us at 212.729.1283 or send an email to info@hudsonallergy.com

Friday, June 7, 2013

Summer Food Allergies – Oral Allergy Syndrome

Dr. Kuriakose and Dr. Mainardi hosted a roundtable discussion at Hudson Allergy last night, to discuss the topic of summer food and alcohol allergies. The goal of the roundtable event was to provide free education to the community, and a safe, supportive environment where people can come and ask questions. While our roundtable topic was Summer Food and Alcohol Allergies, one of the main things we discussed oral allergy syndrome, or OAS, as it’s related to food allergies.

According to Wikipedia, oral allergy syndrome is defined as a type of food allergy classified by a cluster of allergic reactions in the mouth in response to eating certain (usually fresh) fruits, nuts, and vegetables.

OAS is perhaps the most common food-related allergy in adults. OAS is not a separate food allergy, but rather represents cross-reactivity between distant remnants of tree, grass or weed pollen still found in certain fruits and vegetables. OAS is typically seen in tree and weed allergic patients, and is usually limited to ingestion of only uncooked fruits or vegetables.

Another term used for this syndrome is '"Pollen-Food Allergy."' In adults up to 60% of all food allergic reactions are due to cross-reactions between foods and inhaled allergens.

One of the types of questions that the doctors are often asked is, “If I am allergic to apples, why don’t I get an allergic reaction when I eat an apple pie?” The answer to this question has to do with the fact that people are allergic to the protein that is in the raw fruit. But, once it’s cooked, the protein changes it’s properties and thus the allergen you are allergic to is no longer an issue. This is not always the case, but there are some people who are allergic to raw peaches but can eat a peach tart because the fruit is cooked.

The roundtable was very interesting to say the least. Most of the people who attended the event were fascinated by the notion that oral allergies do exist and how they are related to pollen allergies.

Food allergies are still relatively unknown among much of the general public, and this is one of the main reasons behind our roundtable discussions: To educate the local community.

This event was just the first of many and we look forward to publishing a calendar that will outline our monthly events and topics.

If you have any questions about oral allergy syndrome or other food related allergies, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Additionally, if you would like to suggest a question for us to discuss in one of our future events please let us know. info@hudsonallergy.com.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Food and Alcohol Allergies: Roundtable Event at Hudson Allergy

Do you think you are allergic to alcohol or summer time foods?Join the doctors at Hudson Allergy to learn about food and alcohol allergies, how to manage them and still enjoy your summer. 

Join Us on June 5th at 6:30pm at Hudson Allergy, 49 Murray Street

Dr. Mainardi, Dr. Kuriakose and Dr. Price will hold a roundtable discussion on food and alcohol allergies and cover the following topics:
-       What symptoms to look out for
-       How to prevent a reaction
-       Tips on managing your symptoms
-       Reasons to see an allergist
-       Q & A

Do you have specific questions? Please email us in advance or ask them during the Q & A session. Looking forward to seeing you there.  Click here to register for this free event!