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PERSPECTIVE 617 W. Sheridan Ave Shenandoah, IA 51601 712.246.3097 www.valleynewstoday.com PUBLISHER Kate Thompson EDITORIAL STAFF Tess Gruber Nelson - Managing Editor Kristan Gray - Staff Writer Jason Glenn - Staff Writer GRAPHICS DEPT Heidi Woods - Lead Graphic/Ad DesignerProduction Manager Sharon Cahill - Graphic/Ad Designer Tori Hopp - Graphic/Ad Designer ADVERTISING REPRESENTATIVES Mark Anderson Erica Matya
FEATURED ARTICLES PEANUT ALLERGIES
PRECAUTIONS FOR FLU FREE WINTER
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EXPLAINING GLUTEN-FREE DIET
14. ROUTINE CHECKUP FOR WOMEN
REDUCE RISK OF DIABETES
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The growing concern over peanut allergies By TESS GRUBER NELSON
s a parent, you try to pay attention to what goes in your child’s mouth when it comes to meals and snacks, and for most of us, that isn’t a life or death situation. However, for some parents of children with serious allergies, it is. Chris and Erin Cook of Shenandoah have a 4-year-old daughter, Avery, who is allergic to peanuts. This means that the entire family, and anyone that watches her, needs to be diligent as to what she ingests. Erin explained they found out Avery was allergic to peanuts when she was just over a year old and while at daycare. “They had given them peanut butter on crackers and she had barely even taken a bite when she broke out in hives and her eyes got bloodshot,” Erin recalled. “I didn’t even think it could be a peanut allergy.” It was a co-worker of Erin’s and another childcare provider at the daycare, who also has a son with a peanut allergy, that informed Erin that Avery could be allergic to peanuts. It was additionally fortunate both ladies were in the same room as Avery at the time. “I went and told the front desk of the daycare and then took her to the ER. They gave her Benedryl, and that was enough because she hadn’t ingested it,” Erin continued. Doctors recommended the Cooks take their daughter to an allergy specialist, where it was confirmed Avery was allergic to peanuts. “They said there is a 20 percent chance she’ll grow out of it,” said Erin. “We’re still hopeful.” Before they found out Avery was allergic, Chris and Erin said they didn’t know much about peanut allergies and hadn’t heard of too many people that had it. Since Avery is allergic to such a common household item, those who watch her have to be extra cautious of what she ingests – and it doesn’t just include her not eating peanuts in general, but items cooked in peanut oil, processed in peanut plants or foods that contain peanuts. And they have become very accustomed to reading labels on products. “It’s not just peanuts,” Chris said. “It’s so much more - more than you’d think.” “We have an Epipen we take with us when we travel, or when she stays with our parents. Turnbull (daycare) has an Epipen and they don’t serve anything with peanuts in it.” Erin said. “We’ve pretty much gotten used to it,” Chris said. Babysitters and Avery’s older sisters, Ellie and Morgan, are also aware Avery can’t have peanuts of any kind. Even Avery understands she can’t have peanuts. “The girls are really good about it, but it was an adjustment” Chris said. According to the Mayo Clinic, being allergic to nuts is one of the more common food allergies, especially among children. Many people who are allergic to peanuts are also allergic to other tree nuts, including walnuts, almonds and pecans. As with any allergen, reactions vary from person to person. Some may experience mild symptoms, such as light rashes or swelling, while others may have severe reactions, including anaphylactic shock, which is characterized by shortness of breath, a severe drop in blood pressure, constriction of airways, and potential heart failure. A peanut allergy occurs when your body mistakenly identifies peanut proteins as something that can be harmful. Just as your body might fight a cold, it releases chemicals from the immune system to fight off the peanut invader. The number of kids with peanut allergies has been increasing over the last 10-15 years, doubling in the last half-decade alone. It isn’t known why some people are prone to nut allergies while others are not. However, Michael C. Young, M.D., Assistant Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and a practicing pediatrician at Children’s Hospital, has a few ideas. Nursing mothers and very young children are eating more peanuts, particularly in the form of peanut butter, than ever before, someThe Valley News (1/29) & Clarinda Herald-Journal (1/30)
T U N A PE S E I G R E ALL
thing that Young feels could be causing a higher incidence rate of peanut allergies. Young also theorizes that better hygiene may play a role, suggesting that because children have fewer infections (due to improved hygiene and routine immunizations),their immune systems are more likely to target other things, such as foods and environmental factors, resulting in allergies. Although peanut allergies are prevalent and can be dangerous, there is no reason to act rashly. Young notes that approximately 20 percent of children will outgrow their peanut allergies by the age of 6, and he advises that it is worth having a child retested as they get older to gauge if there have been any changes in the status of the peanut allergy. When dealing with peanut allergies, it is important to separate myths from facts. Direct contact is the most common cause of a reaction. This results from eating peanuts or foods that contain peanuts. Cross-contamination,which occurs when peanuts unintentionally come into contact with other foods, is another common cause. see PEANUT, Page 4
Continued from Page 3
Some people can have a reaction by touching peanuts with their skin. A rash may occur, but a very dangerous reaction will not result unless the peanuts enter the mouth or come into contact with the nose or eyes. An allergic reaction can occur from inhalation of peanut dust, such as peanut flour or ground shells during processing. Aerosol cooking sprays that contain peanut oil also can produce a reaction. It is important to note that the smell of peanuts will not induce an allergic reaction. Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York found that peanut proteins can be detected in some people’s saliva after eating peanuts. A kiss could transfer some of the peanut allergens to another person. Sometimes an allergy is not really an allergy, but rather an intolerance to a certain food. A food intolerance does not involve the immune system. A person with a food intolerance can eat small amounts of the food with only mild symptoms, such as indigestion, rather than a severe reaction with a true allergy. While being diligent in reading food labels and asking what ingredients are in prepared foods at restaurants is key for people with peanut allergies, so is avoiding potential skin contact. This means thoroughly washing areas where peanuts or peanut butter may have been and ensuring other children wash up after lunch. “It could be potentially the rest of her life she’ll have to deal with this,” Chris said. “We’re hopeful she’ll be in that 20 percent.” According to Spire Health Partners, more than 3 million people in the United States have a nut allergy, and one-third of them will suffer from a severe symptom if they ingest nuts.
Precautions allow people to enjoy a FLU FREE winter
By KENT DINNEBIER Staff Writer
Christmas carols and holiday cheer have been replaced with sniffling and sneezing as area residents contend with the effects of flu season. Since people typically spend more time indoors in close proximity to co-workers, family and friends during the winter
months, they are more susceptible to the flu. Dr. Autumn Morales at Clarinda Regional Health Center said flu season generally extends from December to February, but could begin as early as October and continue until April depending on winter weather conditions. “So far the flu season has been consistent with recent years, but we still may see a great deal more flu,” Morales said.
Therefore, there are some simple precautions people can take to protect themselves and their families from the flu. Morales said the best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu shot. Some people prefer to avoid getting a flu shot because they want to build up their natural immunities or they believe the shots can make them sick. However, most flu shots contain an inactive virus that will not make the recipient sick, and will only trigger the body’s immune system response to a foreign invader. It can take a couple of weeks for full immunity to develop, so it’s possible to still get sick even after a flu shot has been administered. Also, a flu shot does not guarantee recipients won’t get the flu. People can still get the flu after receiving a flu shot, as it may be another strain of the virus. Still, flu shots are largely effective. “Clarinda Regional Health Center is still offering flu shots for established patients through the walk-in clinic. Adults who are not patients can also visit the walk-in clinic, but we would like to have young children under the age of 12 to be examined before they receive a flu shot. You can also check with your local pharmacy to see if they are offering flu shots,” Morales said. Proper hand washing can also reduce the risk of flu and the spreading of other germs. Morales said a thorough hand washing with see FLU, Page 6
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