Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Penicillin Allergies: A few interesting facts

Last week we had the pleasure of speaking at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital on a topic that is near and dear to our hearts: Penicillin Allergies.

As some of you may or may not know, a penicillin allergy can be a life-threatening reaction to a number of different penicillin containing antibiotics in sensitive individuals. Penicillin allergies are quite common and people with penicillin allergies can also be sensitive to other types of antibiotics.

Here are a few interesting facts about penicillin and penicillin allergies. It is said that 2% of the population has an allergy to penicillin, however 10% of hospitalized patients report having a penicillin allergy. This means that 80% of people with a “self-reported” penicillin allergy probably do not have one. There area reasons for this discrepancy:

Many people with a history of penicillin allergies received that diagnosis when they were children and were too young to remember what kind of reaction they endured. This could be one of the reasons that so many people think that they have an allergy to penicillin, but in reality they don’t. They have likely outgrown their allergy.

When we hear this kind of story from our patients, we share this lovely fact with them: After 10 years of having an allergic reaction to penicillin, 87% of those people will "lose" the allergy and be able to tolerate penicillin, thus, not be allergic any more!

One way to know if you still have an allergy to penicillin is skin testing. Skin testing is available and with 98% certainty, will be able to determine whether someone is still allergic to penicillin. It is safe, cost effective and covered by most insurance plans.

Why get tested? Well, according to Dr. Tim Mainardi, "Patients with penicillin allergies are usually treated with different antibiotics that can be less effective or cause worse side effects. After verifying a penicillin allergy with a skin test, patients on average spend 32% less on antibiotics than those who were not tested."

If you have questions about penicillin allergies or want to come in and find out once and for all if you are still allergic, schedule an appointment. Visit www.hudsonallergy.com or email us at info@hudsonallergy.com. You will be glad you did.  

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Peanut Allergies: What You Need To Know About Halloween Candy

In lieu of Halloween, we wanted to share some information around peanut allergies and Halloween candy. To celebrate this festive holiday, we've put together an infographic to help parents and kids quickly digest some helpful information on peanut allergies and how to stay safe during Halloween.  Happy Halloween!

Peanut Allergies

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Tips to Prevent Candy Allergies During Halloween

October is here and with that comes Halloween. However, for those who have food allergies, this time of year can be tricky as some Halloween candies contain ingredients that people are allergic to. This can be dangerous -- especially for children. In fact, food allergies affect 1 in 13 children under the age of 18.

Nuts are commonly found in Halloween candy, which is one of the “Big 8” ingredients that cause allergies. Some examples of Halloween candies with nuts are Snickers, Butterfingers, or Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Something else important to know is that even if a particular candy does not actually contain nuts, a child can still be allergic to candy that is made in a plant that processes peanuts and tree nuts. Therefore it is important to know where the candy is made and if this type of information is available on the label. Common symptoms related to these types of food allergies are nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting, hives, shortness of breath, wheezing, lightheadedness or even cause someone to go into anaphylactic shock.

Food allergies can also be caused by milk, eggs, wheat, and soy, which are also common, ingredients in candy. Often times, these food allergens are hidden ingredients in candy. For example, did you know that soy can be found in lollipops and gummy candies? The best way to confirm if there are hidden allergens in Halloween candy is to read the ingredient label on each candy package. Another thing to know is that the ingredients of bite-sized candy may differ from those ingredients used in the regular size of the same candy.

It’s important that parents prepare for Halloween by knowing before hand which candies have ingredients that can cause food allergies before Halloween trick-or-treating starts! Here are a few tips from Hudson Allergy to help parents prevent unforeseen allergic reactions during Halloween.

      Identify candy that you already know your child is allergic to before you start trick-or-treating.
      Establish ground rules and identify candy that your child shouldn’t eat before Halloween.
      Prepare a bag filled with allergy “safe treats” in advance and then swap them out for the candy that’s been collected that contains ingredients that your child is allergic to.
      Carry emergency medication such as an Epi Pen or Benadryl.
      Go trick-or-treating with your child.
      Educate your child’s friends and their families about your child’s allergy
      Try to avoid letting other children touch or carry candy that contains the allergens your child is allergic to.

So, before you start trick-or-treating, let your neighbors know that your child has food allergies and suggest allergy-free Halloween treats in advance to hand out to your child.  Another good idea is to feed your child before going trick-or-treating so there is less temptation to "sneak a treat" while they are out and about. By taking the time to prepare, you can better protect your children and have a safe Halloween. 

If you have any questions regarding candy allergies, contact us at info@hudsonallergy.com or give us a call at 212-729-1283.