The following news is excerpted from news releases issued by the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) at its November 2019 meeting in Houston.
Pollen Allergy Shots Improved or Resolved OAS Symptoms in Study
We know that children with pollen food allergy syndrome (PFAS) also suffer from seasonal allergies. A new study being presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting in Houston shows that allergy shots (subcutaneous immunotherapy) can be effective in reducing PFAS symptoms for pediatric patients.
“All 20 patients reported PFAS symptoms. Of the 20 surveyed, 11 (55 percent) described improvement or resolution of their symptoms. Four (20 percent) reported unchanged symptoms and five (25 percent) reported they hadn’t tried to reintroduce foods they’d previously reacted to.”
PFAS (or OAS) typically does not appear in young children. It is more common in older children, teens and young adults. In addition, young children under the age of 3 do not usually develop hay fever until after they are toddlers. Hay fever is associated with reactions to the pollens that cross-react with the foods. Those with PFAS typically have allergy to either tree, weed, and/or grass pollens.
“Research has shown that adults who are receive allergy shots see improvement in PFAS symptoms, but the effect hasn’t been widely shown in pediatric patients,” says Dr. Jones. “We think it’s an important finding, especially for kids who are receiving allergy shots and also suffering from PFAS.”
If You Test Negative for Penicillin Allergy, the Label May Still Persist
Even when people test negative for penicillin allergy, meaning it should no longer be in their medical chart, they still face barriers to having the label removed. In this study released at ACAAI, people who tested negative to penicillin allergy had follow-up interviews. Their electronic medical records (EMR) and pharmacy records were reviewed for antibiotic prescriptions and to see if the penicillin allergy label remained.
“Our study found that of the 52 patients who tested negative to penicillin and were interviewed, 98 percent understood they were not allergic to penicillin,” says lead author Dr. Sonam Sani, an allergy/immunology fellow. “Of those, 29 percent still had a penicillin allergy label in their electronic medical record, and 24 percent still carried the label in their pharmacy records.
Four patients continued to avoid penicillin and continued to report a penicillin allergy to new healthcare providers. Once patients have tested negative for penicillin allergy, there needs to be collaboration among patients, physicians and pharmacists to make sure their records reflect it’s safe to take penicillin again. Anyone who has tested negative for penicillin allergy should have confidence in their test results and be able to use penicillin antibiotics for future infections.”
Social Media and Negative Impact On Allergy Medical Decisions
The social media stream on food allergies is never-ending. Why shouldn’t you believe all those news articles – even if you’ve never heard of some of the sources? Is there any harm in listening? Yes, according to a presentation at the ACAAI allergists’ meeting in Houston.
“Social media has some benefits and there is a lot of good information out there,” says Dr. David Stukus, the allergist who chaired the ACAAI program committee. “But social media gives everyone an equal voice – even those who are not giving out correct information. The years of training and clinical experience allergists have is given the same weight as unqualified individuals performing their own ‘research’ using online search engines.”
Dr. Stukus sees the sharing of a lot of alternative facts, both deliberate and not. “This misinformation has a negative impact on medical decisions made by people with food allergies,” says Dr. Stukus. “For example, you can easily find online promises of ‘food allergy cures’ even though none exist. These treatments look very appealing, but they haven’t been properly tested and people have no way of knowing whether they’re good or bad.”
He says: “The same is true for at-home food sensitivity testing. People spend hundreds of dollars to be sent a long list of foods they are reportedly ‘sensitive’ to, and they’re told to avoid the foods. But the results are meaningless.”
Dr. Stukus recommends people bring online information to their allergist appointments to discuss. “I’d much rather someone with a food allergy bring me information so we can discuss it, rather than starting a treatment without asking my opinion.” He advises that patients ask for time to go over questions. Anyone with a food allergy might also want to ask their allergist for recommendations on reputable and trustworthy sources on food allergies.
“Be suspicious of information falsely claiming to be scientific, as well as cherry picked data, personal anecdotes and paid celebrity endorsements,” he says. And, “if it sounds too good to be true, it likely is a myth, regardless of how many likes, shares or retweets it has.
View more news from the ACAAI meeting here.