The Peanut Problem: Potential New Therapies for Food Allergies May Be Released in 2019

If your child suffer from food allergies, you are not alone. The prevalence of the “peanut table” in school cafeterias is not a new phenomenon simply because we are suddenly more sensitive to the problem—it’s a result of allergies becoming a problem more than ever before. According to one study, peanut allergies have risen more than threefold in the past 13 years. And a Fair Health study showed that allergy-related doctor and ER visits because of severe food reactions increased from 4.6% in 2007 to 22.1 percent in 2016. Food allergies are on the rise worldwide.

“Despite this rise, children with food allergies have promising new therapies on the horizon,” said Dr. Payal Patel, Board Certified Allergy & Immunology Specialist at Chicago ENT. “These involve immunotherapy which entails exposing the patient to the suspected food allergen in a controlled manner.” Two therapies are currently undergoing clinical trials and will go to the FDA for approval soon. One method is oral immunotherapy, where patients consume increasing and controlled amounts of the allergen over time. The other involves wearing a patch, which exposes the allergen to the skin over time.

“While these are not yet FDA approved, recent phase 3 clinical trials showed promising results,” said Dr. Patel. While the therapies likely cannot end an allergy altogether, they aim to make exposure to the allergen less dangerous. One of the drugs showed that after one year, 67 percent of children were able to tolerate what equals 2.5 peanuts. This possibility makes the allergy less life-threatening in the case of accidental ingestion or cross-contamination.

The same makers of the peanut patch immunotherapy also recently completed phase 2 trials on milk patch immunotherapy. “If achieved, this can be a promising treatment for many who suffer from milk allergy,” said Dr. Patel.

Several theories are being studied as to why food allergies are on the rise. One involves the hygiene hypothesis, which notes that microbial exposure in childhood helps to educate the immune system in deciphering between harmful bacteria and harmless allergens. It essentially questions whether we have become too good at protecting our bodies from microbes, causing the immune system to attack where it shouldn’t. Another hypothesis wonders if delaying introduction to allergenic foods such as peanuts has led to a rise in peanut allergy.

Regardless of theories about the cause, treatments aim to re-teach the body how to react. A recent Chicago Magazine article, The End of the Epidemic, goes into great detail about the various potential and upcoming treatment possibilities. The article focuses on the above-mentioned drugs, as well as a University of Chicago researcher, Cathy Nagler, who “wants to help the gut’s natural flora retrain the immune system from the inside out.”

“Research in the field of food allergies is being conducted at lightning speed,” said Dr. Patel. “Treatments are constantly evolving.”

If you are curious about treatments, visit the office and we can help you understand what is possible, and what is on the horizon.

Make an appointment to visit today! 


Driving Under the Influence…of a Sleep Disorder: How Sleep Disorder Assessment Could Save Your Life

Most people wouldn’t risk driving under the influence of alcohol—however, they may be driving under the influence of something else that is life-threatening: not getting enough restful sleep. Every year, nearly 1,500 people die in traffic accidents that are linked to sleep disorders. According to research done by The National Commission on Sleep Disorders, over 100,000 automobile accidents per year are linked to sleep disorders, with nearly 1,500 fatalities and 75,000 injuries annually.

You may think “driving under the influence” of a sleep disorder is a strange correlation, but another factor connects addictive disorders and sleep disorders: aside from addictive disorders, there is no other disease with as much denial as there is with obstructive sleep apnea and other sleep disorders. Although sleep disorders are extremely common—20% of adults suffer from chronic sleep disorders and an additional 10% of adults suffer from intermittent sleep disorders—many people do not know they have a problem sleeping. Obstructive sleep apnea is a disease that a patient fails to recognize most often.

Dr. Michael Friedman sites why many adults don’t know they have sleep apnea:

  • Patients with sleep apnea can often fall asleep as soon as they lay down.
  • Patients with severe obstructive sleep apnea often sleep like a log and they assume that this means they have no sleep problem.
  • Since the patients do not hear themselves snoring, they are often in denial about the fact that they snore.
  • People with sleep apnea may be fully asleep watching television, reading, or even driving—without even knowing it.

“It turns out that falling sleep when you hit the pillow is not normal,” says Dr. Friedman. “Normal sleep latency is around 15 minutes which means that it should take around 15 minutes to fall asleep after turning lights and the television out. Patients with obstructive sleep apnea and other sleep disorders are not obtaining rest after sleep, so they often fall asleep instantly.”

Photo by Kevin Grieve on Unsplash

This denial leads many with sleep apnea to go untreated. The exhaustion caused by sleep apnea leads to traffic accidents, and extremely high medical expenses—costing up to an estimated $15 billion annually in direct medical expenses. This matters for businesses that involve commercial driving also; sleep disorders may be responsible for up to 30% of commercial truck driving accidents. It has been estimated that chronic sleep deprivation causes an estimated $70 billion in lost productivity every year.

So what should you do about it? First, assess if you may have sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea signs and symptoms

Sleep-related signs include:

  • Sound sleeping
  • Snoring
  • Disrupted breathing
  • Unrefreshing sleep
  • Daytime sleepiness

Some non-sleep related signs include:

  • Weight gain
  • Dry throat
  • Impaired sexual function
  • Irritability, mood change

If you suspect you aren’t getting restful sleep, make an appointment with one of our physicians who can evaluate you and order any appropriate testing. We can get you on the road to more restful sleep and less risky driving.

Header Photo by Darwin Vegher on Unsplash

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Can A CPAP Machine Boost Your Sex Life?

When a patient is diagnosed with sleep apnea, a sleep disorder that causes snoring and disrupted sleep, the doctor may recommend treatment with a CPAP machine, a nasal mask that provides more airflow and keeps the airways open during sleep. But many patients who are diagnosed wonder, If I wear this machine, what will happen to my sex life?

Continue reading Can A CPAP Machine Boost Your Sex Life?

New Kids on the Block: Could Your 2nd “Hidden” Tonsils Be Causing Snoring or Sleep Apnea?

Most people are aware of tonsils that are present in the back of the throat. Tonsils are often the cause of sore throat and sometimes strep throat that are painful and require antibiotic treatment. Sometimes tonsils also accumulate debris and form little pockets that fill with white or yellow cheesy material, known as tonsiliths or cryptic tonsillitis. This debris is not dangerous but often annoying. It can cause halitosis (bad breath) and discomfort. Often the only solution is tonsillectomy in severe cases. Continue reading New Kids on the Block: Could Your 2nd “Hidden” Tonsils Be Causing Snoring or Sleep Apnea?

Many People Learned About Inspire Therapy for Sleep Apnea At Our Free Event.

On Thursday, June 14, 2018, Dr. Michael Friedman,  Dr. T.K. Venkatesan, and  Dr. Claire Kenneally held a free community education event at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Olson Auditorium to to discuss Inspire Therapy, a groundbreaking treatment for people who struggle with Sleep Apnea.  Continue reading Many People Learned About Inspire Therapy for Sleep Apnea At Our Free Event.

Fluticasone Propionate Nasal Spray by Apotex Corp: Recall

We want to alert our patients to an important recall worth checking on if you have used nasal spray or have some in your medicine cabinet for future use:

Fluticasone Propionate Nasal Spray by Apotex Corp has been recalled due to the potential for small glass particles in the spray.

Exact specifications for which sprays are affected can be found here on the FDA website.