Food allergy is a reaction by the immune system that occurs quickly after eating a food. Symptoms occur with ingestion of even a tiny amount of a food and can range from rash or mild itching of the mouth and tongue to life-threatening and life-ending reactions.
Many people who think they have a food allergy actually have food intolerance. Food allergy is estimated to affect six to eight percent of children under five, and three to four percent of adults.
Intolerances to food will affect most people at some point in their lives. For example, lactose intolerance occurs when your body can’t break down milk sugar leading to bloating, cramping and diarrhea. While food intolerances can be uncomfortable they are
less serious than food allergy and are not life-threatening.
Common food allergies for adults:
Common food allergies in children:
How do you determine if you have a food allergy to a specific food? Understanding the symptoms of an allergic reaction is important. In allergic reactions, symptoms develop within seconds to a few hours of ingesting the food. Symptoms occur each time you
ingest the food allergen. In fact, 85% of food allergic reactions occur have ingesting the same eight foods: milk, egg, wheat, soy, peanut/tree nuts, fish and shellfish. Symptoms can range from mild to severe—itching in the mouth; hives or eczema; swelling
lips, face or tongue; trouble breathing; diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain; dizziness and fainting are all symptoms of allergic reactions. Anaphylaxis is a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction to foods.
Rachel Story, MD, Allergist at NorthShore, highlights some approaches your physician might take to determine if you suffer from a more mild
food allergy and what might be triggering your reactions:
Food allergy can cause a severe reaction called anaphylaxis. Symptoms of anaphylaxis include swelling of the airways with throat closing or difficulty breathing, a drop in blood pressure, rapid pulse and fainting. This type of reaction must be treated immediately
as it could result in death. All people with suspected food allergy should be evaluated by a physician as they may need to carry medications to treat accidental ingestions of food allergens. Over-the-counter antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl)
and cetrizine (Zyrtec) are used to treat mild reactions. Severe reactions are treated with an injection of epinephrine that can be administered using an epinephrine autoinjector (EpiPen, AuviQ).
There are currently no FDA-approved treatments for food allergy. However, much promising research is ongoing and there is hope for a treatment for food allergy in the next 5 to 10 years.
Are you allergic to a food? How did you discover your food allergy?
Music can improve mood, decrease pain and anxiety, and stimulate emotional expression. Music therapy has a long history
but the first formal use of music therapy began in World War II, when hospitals used music to help soldiers suffering from “shell shock” or what would later be diagnosed as PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Music therapy can and is being used by board
certified music therapists to enhance conventional treatment for a variety of illnesses and disease processes – from anxiety, depression and stress to the management of pain and enhancement of functioning after degenerative neurologic disorders such as dementia,
Alzheimer’s disease, stroke and Parkinson’s disease.
Heather Hodorowski, MS, MT-BC, LPC, Music Therapy Coordinator at NorthShore, highlights some of the benefits music has
on health and well-being:
Has music therapy benefited you or someone in your family?
Parenting may be one of the most rewarding jobs but it can also be the most demanding and difficult. Parents have a big impact
on their growing children, influencing their attitudes, behaviors and habits. As parents, you are your child's first teacher.
While there isn’t a user manual on how to be a parent, there are things you can do to help.
Susan Roth, MD, Pediatrician at NorthShore, outlines some ideas and rules parents can consider incorporating:
What tips or recommendations have helped you most as a parent?
Whether it's part of your daily commute to work or simply your prefered mode of transportion for weekend errands, cycling is a great alternative to driving. When done safely, it's an easy way to include a little extra exercise each day and also do your part
to help protect the environment.
The health benefits of biking are many, from boosting your immune system to lowering your risk of heart disease, but it's important to wear proper safety gear and always follow the rules of the road. Our latest NorthShore infographic covers the basics of
two-wheel travel: health benefits, bike safety statistics and more. Click on the image below to view the full
Levin, MD, Sports Medicine at NorthShore, has been a team physician with the US Rugby Team for ten years, acting as their head physician during the Rugby World Cup in France in 2007. He has travelled with the team all over Canada, England, Wales, France
and now Japan. He shares what it’s like to care for these daring athletes at the top of their game during a recent tournament in Japan.
We’re in Japan for the Pacific Cup, which includes teams like Canada and Tonga as well. We arrived in Nagoya, Japan after almost 20 hours of travel from Los Angeles. We played Tonga the night before
we left LA and lost in a tough game 18-9. Luckily there were no major injuries on either side, although it looked like the Tongan team had several play stoppages for apparent injuries. In reality, it seemed as though the Tongans were mainly cramping up due
to the physical game the US team played. Nonetheless we did lose a close game that we felt we were capable of winning.
Since I have been with USA Rugby I have gotten a bit of a reputation as a "rugby doc" and take care of many local and regional rugby players. I specialize in shoulders and knees and have operated on
many of these players with shoulder and knee injuries. It is particularly rewarding to see so many get back in the game after recovering from surgery or rehab and then continue to play at such a high level.
During a game, the most common injuries that I see in rugby players are laceration, muscle, ligament and tendon strain, tears, concussions and occasionally fractures. There are no timeouts in rugby.
As a physician I have to work fast, diagnose the problem and fix it quickly or the player must be substituted. If he is substituted then he can't return under the rules of the game, so there is a great deal of pressure to get the player back as quickly as
possible if medically cleared. If the player has any type of bleeding injury, I have 10 minutes to get it under control (i.e. suture it) or the player is not allowed to return. It’s fast-paced and intense. But I enjoy it.
I also really enjoy the camaraderie I have with the players. Rugby players are the toughest, purest, and most appreciative athletes I have had the pleasure to work with and treat.
Summer vacation is coming to a close, which means it’s time to start thinking about the approaching school year, especially if your
little one is about to embark on preschool. The transition from home life to a classroom environment is an exciting time but it requires preparation for you and your child to be physically and emotionally ready.
Sharon Robinson, MD, Pediatrician at NorthShore, provides her recommendations and tips on how to ensure that your child will be ready
for this brand new adventure:
What steps have you taken to prepare your child for preschool?
Many think of a massage as a luxury, something you treat yourself to for stress relief after a particularly busy week at work or
as a method of relief for the occasional shoulder twinge after a workout at the gym. And a massage can do exactly that but it can also be used for so much more.
Studies have shown that massage therapy can be beneficial for cancer patients both during and following treatment. Massage therapy can counteract many of the negative physical and emotional symptoms of cancer and side effects of cancer treatment for patients.
More and more cancer patients are interested in finding ways to enhance their conventional treatment with complementary therapy options, including massage therapy.
Charlotte Walker, Massage Therapist in NorthShore’s Department of Integrative Medicine, shares some of the potential benefits of massage therapy as a complementary treatment for cancer patients:
Join us on July 25th at 11 a.m. for our next online medical chat. Charlotte Walker will answer all questions related to massage therapy and pain management. Submit questions here:
“This is something that happens to 80-year-old men,” Karin Rigg thought as she was wheeled into NorthShore’s Evanston Hospital for an angioplasty. A busy mom of four young children, Karin Rigg suffered a heart attack at only 44—a year after giving birth
to her youngest child. She never thought she was at risk for a heart attack. Yet, heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in women 55 and younger.
Successful efforts have been made to raise awareness that heart disease is a very real and very serious problem for women but more can still be done. Studies show that only a little more than half of women would call an ambulance if they thought they were
having a heart attack but more than 75 percent would call for a husband or partner.
Karin Rigg shares her experience as a young heart attack survivor and the changes she made to her life to improve her heart health. She also tells us why it is so important for women to start making their own health needs a priority.
How do you protect your heart? Do you make your health a priority?
Frequent exercise is an important part of keeping your kids happy, healthy and fit. Starting a fitness routine early can be a great way to teach your children how to live healthier lives for years to come. Whether your child is an athlete or just starting
out, preventing injury is the key to keeping fitness safe and fun.
Adam Bennett, Family and Sports Medicine at NorthShore, shares some of his suggestions for getting your kids interested in fitness and
keeping exercise novices and young athletes safe and injury free.
What are some good ways to motivate children to exercise if they are not naturally athletic or have not expressed
an interest in participating in team sports?
Getting kids to exercise is often a tough challenge. Having your child choose a sport, no matter how obscure, may help encourage them to stay active—anything from fencing to yoga to bowling is worth a try. Other parents have had success by allowing their inactive
kids to earn TV or video game time by spending time exercising. That said, most kids like doing what their friends are doing, so consider finding out if their friends play sports and encourage them to participate. Lastly, children learn by example. If you
exercise, your child just might want to join you.
If a child has been fairly inactive, how should exercise be introduced to avoid injury?
It’s best to error on the side of a gradual transition. Kids of all shapes and sizes who have not exercised regularly are at risk for overuse injuries if they rush into activity too quickly. Exercising every other day is a great way to give your muscles,
tendons and bones enough time to recover and prevent injury. Altering the type of activity might also be helpful, with perhaps one day of swimming followed by a game of basketball or a bike ride the next.
How much water should children drink during exercise in the summer? Is water better than electrolyte replacement fluid?
Avoiding dehydration in the summer is very important. If your child is an athlete who will be at outdoor practice regularly during the summer, one easy way to avoid it is to weigh your child before and after exercise, especially during two-a-days. Athletes
need to make sure they are drinking enough water to recover their pre-activity weight. If they haven’t, they might be dehydrated. Athletes should also be told to watch the color of their urine. A light yellow or clearer means they aren’t dehydrated.
Water is fine for exercise lasting 20 minutes or less, but supplementation with water, electrolytes and sugar is essential for optimal performance and recovery when exercising for longer than 20 minutes, especially if the exercise involves intense exertion.
Are two-a-day practices safe for kids?
It’s not an ideal schedule to avoid overuse injuries and dehydration. If there is no pain or sign of injury, it’s a safe schedule, especially if children and coaches are vigilant about preventing dehydration. Most coaches are knowledgeable about proper conditioning
and training programs and choose a program that gets their players fit without causing harm.
What can you do to prevent injury in young athletes?
Soreness that resolves itself after a day or two is common; however, pain that seems to be getting worse with each practice may be a sign of an overuse injury. Any swelling of joints, catching or locking of joints might also indicate a more serious injury.
To prevent injury, a day of rest between workouts is wise. If the young athlete is a runner, mixing things up and trying some biking or swimming to cross train will give joints a break.
If a young athlete is already suffering from some overuse injuries, like tendonitis, how can he or she prevent more serious injury? Can training continue?
Overuse injuries can be a real problem in children who play multiple sports during the same season. During a sports season, dedicated days off from activity will help avoid further injury. In the summer or during off-season, regular exercise that is
similar to the sport played may help avoid overuse injuries once their season starts up again. If injuries persist, physical therapy may be required.
Is a marathon safe for a younger runner?
If he or she is comfortable running long distances and distances are gradually increased during a supervised running program; there is no pain during training and there are days off to recover, it’s likely safe for a younger runner to participate in
a marathon. Keep in mind, however, that a marathon is an intense endeavor which puts the body through unnatural stress. As such, a 10k or even a half marathon may a good alternative for younger runners before undertaking a marathon.
All parents hope to shield their children from the knowledge that bad things happen in the world for as long as possible.
Unfortunately, protecting your children from this knowlege isn't possible forever. Frequently, children learn about violent and tragic events from their friends as well as from television. These tragedies can confuse and frighten children if they don’t think
they can discuss them openly. Limiting exposure to the news may be helpful; however, parents can do so much more to help their children feel safe and secure.
What and how much do you say to children? How do you know they want or need to talk? How can you get them to open up to you about their fears?
Dr. Robert Farra, PhD, recommends that parents:
How do you discuss difficult topics with your children?