Recent Articles

Soy Supplements Won’t Ease Asthma, Study Finds...

Despite hints from prior research that soy supplements might help asthma patients breathe easier, a major new study finds the nutrient has no beneficial effect on lung function. “This study highlights why it is so important to perform well-designed, placebo-controlled studies when associations are reported between specific nutrients and disease outcomes,” study lead author Dr. […]

Many Kids With Asthma Also Sensitive to Peanuts: Study...

Sensitivity to peanuts is common among children with asthma, yet many children and their parents are unaware of the problem, a new study finds. There’s been little research into the link between childhood asthma and peanut allergy, according to the study authors. “Many of the respiratory symptoms of peanut allergy can mirror those of an asthma attack, and vice versa. Examples of those symptoms include shortness of breath, wheezing and coughing,” said the study lead author, Dr. Robert Cohn from Mercy Children’s Hospital in Toledo, Ohio, in a news release from the American Thoracic Society. The study findings were scheduled to be presented Sunday at the American Thoracic Society meeting in Denver. Findings presented at meetings are generally viewed as preliminary until they’ve been published in a peer-reviewed journal. Cohn and his colleagues analyzed the medical records of more than 1,500 children with asthma in Toledo, Ohio. The results showed that about 11 percent of the children had a documented history of peanut allergy. The researchers found that nearly 44 percent had undergone a blood test to check for peanut allergy. Just over 20 percent of those children tested positive for peanut sensitivity. However, more than half of these children and their families didn’t know the child had any sensitivity to peanuts. “This study demonstrates children with asthma might benefit from a test for peanut sensitivity, especially when control of wheezing and coughing is difficult to achieve. If a...

Losing Weight May Ease Asthma in Obese People...

Losing weight may help reduce asthma severity in obese adults, a new Canadian study finds. “We were pleased to see significant improvement in asthma symptoms, as well as quality of life for these individuals. This study further supports the need to manage [chronic disorders] to improve patient lives,” said study author Dr. Smita Pakhale, from The Ottawa Hospital and the University of Ottawa. People who are obese are about 1.5 times more likely to have asthma than those who aren’t obese. A 3-unit increase in body mass index — BMI, an estimate of body fat based on weight and height — is associated with a 35 percent increase in the risk of asthma, the researchers said in a news release from the American College of Chest Physicians. A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is considered normal weight. A BMI of 25 to 29.9 is overweight, while 30 and over is considered obese. The study found that when obese people with asthma lost weight, they showed improvement in asthma severity, asthma control and quality of life. The study appears in the June issue of the journal...

How to Avoid July Fourth Allergy Flare-Ups...

Fireworks, picnics and parades are favorite Fourth of July traditions for many people, but for those with allergies or asthma these activities could be uncomfortable or even dangerous. “Summer is the time of year when everyone wants to enjoy being outside,” said allergist Dr. James Sublett, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. “That’s why it’s so important to be prepared, so allergies and asthma don’t overshadow the festivities.” Asthma and allergy experts offer these tips for avoiding or coping with common summer triggers, particularly on the holiday weekend: Smoke: Fireworks and campfires are fun holiday traditions but smoke can trigger an asthma flare-up. Try to maintain a safe distance from fireworks and campfires or stand upwind. It’s also important to carry a reliever inhaler at all times. Chlorine: Chlorine isn’t an allergen, but it can cause allergy-like symptoms, such as itchy eyes. For people with asthma, chlorine could also cause breathing problems. If irritation develops, wash the affected area with clean water. People with a more serious reaction may need a prescription corticosteroid cream. Stings: Insect venom can cause serious or life-threatening reactions that require immediate medical attention. Facial swelling and trouble breathing are signs of a severe allergy that may require epinephrine (adrenaline) and evaluation by an allergist. In some cases, those with an insect allergy are treated with allergy shots. Temperature swings: A rise in temperature can cause an asthma attack. So can...

Smog Threatens Visitors to U.S. National Parks: Report...

Air pollution afflicts many national parks across the United States, a new study suggests. Air quality in some of the parks is as bad or worse than in some major cities because of pollution from sources such as coal-fired power stations, the National Parks Conservation Association says in a new report. “Our parks remain under threat from air pollution, harming visitors’ health, reducing visibility, and driving the impacts of climate change,” said Ulla Reeves, manager of the association’s Clean Air Campaign. Researchers examined 48 national parks with the greatest Clean Air Act protections. They discovered that 75 percent of them sometimes have “moderate” or worse ozone pollution, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality Index. These levels are dangerous for sensitive groups, such as children with asthma. Four parks — Joshua Tree, Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Yosemite — regularly have air that’s considered unhealthy. Some of the parks have unhealthy air for more than a month each year, typically during the summer, the report notes. All 48 parks studied have haze pollution that limits how far people can see. On average, park visitors miss out on 50 miles of scenery, which is equal to the length of Rhode Island, the researchers point out. The study also noted that 90 percent of national parks are experiencing extreme weather linked to climate-changing air pollution. The parks are hotter, wetter or drier than they were over most of the past century....