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Allergy & Asthma Care

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KidsDoc Monthly Newsletter from AllForKids

November 2008, Vol-1, Issue-11

By Dr. M.Vijayalakshmi M.D(Peds), M.D(USA), FAAP, DAA


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Food Allergies

Food allergies occur when your immune system makes a mistake. Normally, your immune system protects you from germs and diseases. It does so by making antibodies that help you fight off bacteria, viruses, and other tiny organisms that can make you sick. But if you have a food allergy, your immune system tries to treat proteins in certain foods as if it is dangerous to your body.

How can I know if my child has a food related allergy?

A food allergy occurs when the body’s immune system reacts against normally harmless proteins in foods. The reaction usually happens shortly after a food is eaten. Food allergy reactions can vary from mild to very severe.

Usual Symptoms are:

  • Skin problems
        • Hives (red spots)
        • Skin rashes which are itchy
        • Swelling in different parts of the body
        • Breathing problems
        • Sneezing
        • Wheezing
        • Throat tightness
  • Stomach symptoms
        • Vomiting
        • Nausea
        • Diarrhea
        • Pale skin
        • Light-headedness, Loss of consciousness

If several areas of the body are affected, the reaction may be severe or even life-threatening. This type of allergic reaction is called anaphylaxis and requires emergency medical attention.

What is not a food allergy?

Food can cause many illnesses that are at times confused with food allergies. The following are not food allergies:

     Food poisoning—Can cause diarrhea or vomiting, but is usually caused by bacteria in spoiled food or undercooked food.

     Skin irritation—Can often be caused by acids found in such foods as orange juice or tomato products.

     Diarrhea—Can occur in small children from too much sugar, such as from fruit juices.

Mild food-related illnesses are called intolerance, or a food sensitivity, rather than an allergy because the immune system is not causing the problem. Lactose intolerance is an example of a food intolerance that is often confused with a food allergy. Lactose intolerance is when a person has trouble digesting milk sugar, called lactose, leading to stomachaches, bloating, and loose stools.

Sometimes reactions to the chemicals added to foods, such as dyes or preservatives, are mistaken for a food allergy. However, while some people may be sensitive to certain food additives, it is very rare to be allergic to them.

Foods that can cause food allergies

Any food could cause a food allergy, but most food allergies are caused by the following:

  • Cow milk
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Soy
  • Wheat
  • Tree nuts (such as walnuts, pistachios, pecans, cashews)
  • Fish
  • Shellfish (such as shrimp, lobster)

Peanuts, nuts, and seafood are the most common causes of severe reactions. Allergies also occur to other foods such as meats, fruits, vegetables, grains, and some seeds.

The good news is that food allergies are often outgrown during early childhood. It is estimated that 80% to 90% of egg, milk, wheat, and soy allergies go away by age 5 years. Some allergies are more persistent. For example, 1 in 5 young children will outgrow a peanut allergy and fewer will outgrow allergies to nuts or seafood. Your pediatrician or allergist can perform tests to track your child's food allergies and watch to see if they are going away.

Asthma in Children

Content Source: CDC


Asthma is a disease that affects the lungs. It is one of the most common long-term diseases of children. It causes repeated episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and nighttime or early morning coughing. Asthma can be controlled by following a medical management plan and by avoiding contact with environmental triggers such as cockroaches, dust mites, furry pets, tobacco smoke, certain chemicals etc.

It is known that if someone in your family has asthma, you are also more likely to have it. In many cases, we don’t know what causes asthma, and we don’t know how to cure it. However Asthma can be controlled and managed. When you control your asthma, you won’t have symptoms like wheezing or coughing, you’ll sleep better, you won’t miss work or school, you can take part in all physical activities, and more important you won’t have to go to the hospital frequently.

How Is Asthma Diagnosed?

Regular physical checkups that include checking your lung function and checking for allergies can help your Doctor make the right diagnosis.

A lung function test, called spirometry, is another way to diagnose asthma. A spirometer measures the largest amount of air you can exhale, or breathe out, after taking a very deep breath. The spirometer can measure airflow before and after you use asthma medicine.

What Is An Asthma Attack?

An asthma attack happens in your body’s airways, which are the paths that carry air to your lungs. As the air moves through your lungs, the airways become smaller, like the branches of a tree are smaller than the tree trunk. During an asthma attack, the sides of the airways in your lungs swell, and the airways shrink. Less air gets in and out of your lungs, and mucus that your body produces clogs up the airways even more. The attack may include coughing, chest tightness, wheezing, and trouble breathing.

What Causes An Asthma Attack?

An asthma attack can occur when you are exposed to things in the environment such as house dust mites and tobacco smoke. These are called asthma triggers.

Important Asthma Triggers

Environmental Tobacco Smoke (Secondhand Smoke)

Environmental tobacco smoke is often called “secondhand smoke” because it is smoke that is breathed in not by a smoker but by a second person nearby.

Dust Mites

Dust mites are in almost everybody’s home, but they don’t cause everybody to have asthma attacks. If you have asthma, dust mites may be a trigger for an attack. To help prevent asthma attacks, use mattress covers and pillow case covers to make a barrier between dust mites and yourself. Don’t use down-filled pillows, quilts, or comforters. Remove stuffed animals and clutter from your bedroom.

Outdoor Air Pollution

Pollution caused by industrial emissions and automobile exhaust can cause an asthma attack.

Cockroaches and their droppings may trigger an asthma attack. Get rid of cockroaches in your home and keep them from coming back by taking away their food and water.


Furry pets may trigger an asthma attack. When a furry pet is suspected of causing asthma attacks, the simplest solution is to find the pet another home. If pet owners are too attached to their pets or are unable to locate a safe, new home for the pet, they should keep the pet out of the bedroom of the person with asthma.


When mold is inhaled or breathed in, it can cause an asthma attack. Get rid of mold in all parts of your home to help control your asthma attacks.

Other Triggers

Strenuous physical exercise; some medicines; bad weather such as thunderstorms, high humidity, or freezing temperatures; and some foods and food additives can trigger an asthma attack.

Strong emotional states can also lead to hyperventilation and an asthma attack.

Learn what triggers your attacks so that you can avoid the triggers whenever possible and be alert for a possible attack when the triggers cannot be avoided.

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How Is Asthma Treated?

You can control your asthma and avoid an attack by taking your medicine exactly as your Doctor tells you to do and by avoiding things that can cause an attack.

Everyone with asthma does not take the same medicine. Some medicines can be inhaled, or breathed in, and some can be taken as a pill. Asthma medicines come in two types—quick-relief and long-term control. Quick-relief medicines control the symptoms of an asthma attack. If you need to use your quick-relief medicines more and more, you should visit your Doctor to see if you need a different medicine. Long-term control medicines help you have fewer and milder attacks, but they don’t help you if you’re having an asthma attack.

Asthma medicines can have side effects, but most side effects are mild and soon go away. Ask your Doctor about the side effects of your medicines.

Violent video game use predicts aggressive behavior in the U.S. and Japan

Regular child and adolescent violent video game use early in the school year predicted later aggressive behavior in both the U.S. and Japan, according to a new study. In “Longitudinal Effects of Violent Video Games on Aggression in Japan and the United States,” researchers monitored the behavior of more than 1,200 students in Japan, ages 12 to 18, and 364 U.S. students, ages 9 to 12. The study results were similar: habitual violent video game play early in the school year predicted later aggression. The more the children played violent video games, the more physically aggressive they became. The study authors recommend reducing child and teen use of violent video games.

Airbags and Children

Many new cars in India have air bags for front-seat passengers. When used with lap/shoulder belts, air bags work very well to protect older children and adults. Airbags could seriously injure or even kill an unbuckled child or adult who is sitting too close to the air bag or who is thrown toward the dash during emergency braking. In a crash, the air bag inflates very quickly. It could hit anything close to the dashboard with enough force to cause severe injuries or even death. Even older children (who have outgrown child seats) are at risk from a deploying air bag, if they are not properly restrained.

What Should be done? The rear seat is the safest place for children of any age to ride. An infant in a rear-facing child seat must ride in the back seat if your vehicle has a passenger air bag. Make sure that everyone in the front seat is properly buckled up and seated as far back from the air bags as is reasonably possible. Make sure that all young children are properly secured in an age and size appropriate restrains.

Fruits and Vegetables

“Eat your fruits and vegetables.”. Research shows why this is good advice:

  • Healthy diets rich in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases.
  • Fruits and vegetables also provide essential vitamins and minerals, fiber, and other substances that are important for good health.
  • Most fruits and vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories and are filling.

Periodic Health Alerts/News items of local interest:

AllForKids is proud to announce a weekly Alert/News Service on its web site which brings to you updated health information including disease alerts and local health trends. Please visit www.allforkidsindia.com and click on the Alert pop up to see this week's alert and alerts/news from past weeks.


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