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tions and delayed hypersensitivity reactions. In immediate hypersensitivity, also called “Type I allergy” or food anaphylaxis, symptoms begin to develop within minutes to an hour after ingestion of the offending food. Even just a tiny amount of a specific food can cause an obvious, rapid reaction. Upon exposure to a specific food, these antibodies trigger special cells called “mast cells” to disintegrate and set free a variety of nasty chemicals, including histamine. Individuals may experience gastrointestinal symptoms, urticaria (hives), angioedema, asthma, rhinitis, conjunctivitis, hypotension, shock and cardiac arrhythmias caused by the massive release of various chemicals during an allergic reaction. In delayed hypersensitivity reactions, symptoms do not begin to appear until four to 28 hours or longer after the ingestion of the offending food. These reactions may be low-grade and peak at about 48 hours after ingestion, and then slowly subside over the next 72-96 hours. These reactions are poorly defined scientifically and clinically, but are primarily thought to involve the cellular immune system (consisting of your body’s cells) where a direct interaction between specific foods and tissue-bound T cells release inflammatory chemicals when sensitized, often resulting in similar symptoms as immediate hypersensitivity allergies. Celiac disease is a well-known delayed hypersensitivity allergy, also considered to be within the realm of autoimmune disease. Celiac disease occurs when susceptible individuals consume gluten-containing grains such as wheat, rye, barley, triticale, spelt and kamut. When these grains are ingested, an inflammatory process in the small intestine damages the absorptive epithelial cells, effectively destroying the lining of the gut and preventing normal absorption of nutrients, especially fats. The ongoing inflammation and loss of intestinal function results in diarrhea, bloating, chronic constipation, weight loss, anemia, bone pain, chronic fatigue, weakness, muscle cramps, and in children, failure to gain weight and growth retardation. Thankfully, if a strict gluten-free diet is followed, the symptoms of celiac disease will resolve and the wall of the small intestines will heal. Research is ongoing to find a way to prevent the immune system from making these misidentifications. Currently, the only treatment for allergy is avoidance of the allergen, use of adrenaline (epinephrine) to
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Spokanecda.com • March • 2014