Alas, what we have wrought

Alas, what we have wrought

Allergic diseases arise in response to normally innocuous environmental agents, including airborne allergens and the foods we eat. Why does the immune system cause this mischief and why is it becoming so prevalent? The answer to both these questions is T-regs. T-regs, better known as T-regulatory lymphocytes, were first discovered about 20 years ago. However, over the past 10 years scientists have learned the vital role they play in causing allergy. As their name implies, these cells regulate the immune…

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Dear Doc: So carbon monoxide not always harmful?

Dear Doc: So carbon monoxide not always harmful?

Dear Dr. K: I’ve always heard that carbon monoxide is deadly, but then I read it’s being researched as a transplant medicine. What gives? What gives is the dynamic of toxic levels versus helpful levels. There are many examples of this in the history of medicine. For example, in the pre-antibiotic era, heavy metals such as gold, silver and arsenic were used to treat infections, in very controlled doses. Even oxygen, which we breathe every day, and can be supplemented…

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DRESS: Short name for scary new allergic reaction

DRESS: Short name for scary new allergic reaction

DRESS, a helpful acronym for Drug Reaction with Eosinophilia and Systemic Symptoms, is a newly recognized form of allergic reaction. Potentially quite severe, it is important to recognize and stop the offending medication and start proper treatment. The exact pathogenesis is still not fully understood, but it seems to occur because of immune response and reactivation of a latent herpes virus. A form of rash with facial redness and swelling is common, but a measles-type rash also can occur. Other…

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One less parental worry

One less parental worry

Harvard researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital recently finished a detailed study of the use of acetaminophen in asthmatic children. The outcome allows for a sigh of relief. In 2000 British researchers questioned whether acetaminophen use led to exacerbation of wheezing in children. The concern arose because when children are sick with respiratory infections, this common, over -the-counter drug is frequently used to treat fever. So, the question arose: was it the illness itself or, perhaps, the acetaminophen that caused worsening…

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Q – Tips: Food and migraines

Q – Tips: Food and migraines

Foods known to induce migraine headaches include cheeses (especially aged cheeses), chocolate, chicken liver, beer, wine, nuts, mushrooms, smoked/pickled meat and fish, bouillon cubes, yoghurt, eggs, soy sauce, MSG and foods with nitrites (hot dogs, bacon, deli-meats).

Seriously? Worm therapy? Yuck or Yay?

Seriously? Worm therapy? Yuck or Yay?

Dear Dr. K: A while ago you wrote about a British physician who ingested worms to treat his asthma. I recently read a report about “worm therapy” for arthritis. Is this for real? Believe it or not, the answer to your question is yes. Despite the growing sophistication of immunologic research, there are still lessons to be learned from mother nature. Two-billion humans are infected with some form of worm. The main reason for this is poverty and a lack…

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Nanoparticle technology fights peanut allergy

Nanoparticle technology fights peanut allergy

The much-anticipated arrival of a vaccine for severe peanut allergy is still unfulfilled. There seem to be too many unresolved issues with the vaccines currently being tested — whether they be injectable or oral vaccines. Safety concerns and avoidance of unwanted reactions are instrumental in this delay. Enter nanoparticle technology. Perhaps because the amount of peanut protein used in nanoparticle vaccines is so small, there have been no severe reactions to the vaccine. Also, early studies show that the nano-vaccine…

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