Potential New Treatment for Children With Peanut Allergies

November 28th, 2018

Bag of peanutsKids who are living with a peanut allergy may be able to lower their guard in the future, thanks to a new clinical trial.

A Clinical Trial to Reduce Peanut Sensitivity

A year-long trial of an oral immunotherapy regimen aimed to reduce children’s sensitivity to peanut allergens by gradually exposing them to peanut protein over the course of six months.  The trial started with minute amounts that were carefully measured and increased incrementally under medical supervision as tolerance developed.

After six months of treatment followed by six months of maintenance therapy, two-thirds of the 372 children who received the treatment were able to ingest 600 milligrams or more of peanut protein, the equivalent of two peanuts—without developing allergic symptoms. By contrast, only four percent of the 124 children who had been given the placebo were able to consume the same amount of peanut without reacting.   

The goal of the treatment is not to cure the allergy, but to reduce the risk that an accidental exposure to trace amounts will trigger a life-threatening reaction in someone with a severe allergy.

The treatment does not work for everyone. Twenty percent of the children in the active treatment group withdrew from the study, more than half of them because of adverse events.

The trial is said to be the largest of its kind. It included 551 people, the majority being four to 17 years old.

The results were announced on November 19 at a conference of the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. The trial is to be published November 22 in “The New England Journal of Medicine.”

The drug is called AR101 and was developed by Aimmune Therapeutics.

Allergic Reaction

A peanut allergy occurs when your immune system mistakenly identifies peanut proteins as something harmful. Direct or indirect contact with peanuts causes the immune system to release symptom-causing chemicals into your bloodstream.

Peanut allergy is one of the most common causes of severe allergy attacks. An allergic response to peanuts usually occurs within minutes after exposure. Peanut allergy signs and symptoms include:

  • Digestive problems, such as stomach cramps, nausea or vomiting
  • Itching or tingling in or around the mouth and throat
  • Runny nose
  • Shortness of breath or wheezing
  • Skin reactions such as hives, redness or swelling
  • Tightening of the throat

 One in 50 American children is allergic to peanuts. According to Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) the prevalence of peanut or tree nut allergy appears to have more than tripled in children in the United States between 1997 and 2008.

What IAA has to Say

Having a peanut allergy can make life a little complicated. Insurance Administrator of America hopes that this drug trial will one day allow children to eat food without worrying about having an allergic reaction. IAA knows that small steps can make a huge difference.

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Federal Government Releases New Exercise Guidelines

November 21st, 2018

Apple sitting next to small weightsGuidelines released on November 12 by the federal government show that most Americans are not getting the exercise they need, costing the healthcare system over $100 billion each year.

New Standards

The new standards are similar to those released 10 years ago, but the government is scrapping a recommendation that physical activity occurs in 10 minute blocks, instead telling Americans to “move more and sit less” whenever possible. Any amount of exercise has some health benefits, officials say.

The guidelines recommend an hour of “moderate-to-vigorous” activity each day for children six to 17, along with muscle-strengthening activities two days a week. For the first time, the guidelines also recommend that preschool-age children have at least three hours of “active play” each day.

Adults should aim for two and a half hours each week of moderate to vigorous activity.

Just 26 percent of men, 19 percent of women and 20 percent of adolescents are meeting the standards officials said, costing the United States healthcare system $117 billion each year and leading to about 10 percent of premature deaths. These finding were published in the “Journal of the American Medical Association.”    

Exercise and You

Exercise can improve your life in a multitude of ways:

  • Exercise boosts energy: Regular physical activity can improve your muscle strength and boost your endurance. Exercise delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and helps your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. 
  • Exercise can be fun and social: Exercise and physical activity can be enjoyable. It gives you a chance to unwind. It can also help connect you with friends or family in a social setting. 
  • Exercise combats health conditions and diseases: No matter what your current weight, being active boosts high-density lipoproteins (HDL) or “good” cholesterol and decreases triglycerides. This helps keep your blood flowing smoothly, which decreases your risk of cardiovascular diseases. Regular exercise helps prevent or manage a wide range of health problems and concerns, including stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, depression, a number of types of cancer, arthritis, and falls.  
  • Exercise controls weight: Exercise can help prevent excess weight gain or help maintain weight loss.  When you engage in physical activity, you burn calories.
  • Exercise improves mood: Physical exercise stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed.
  • Exercise promotes better sleep: Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster.

Based on new evidence, the updated guidelines say exercise can reduce symptoms of anxiety, slow the progression of hypertension and type 2 diabetes, and help prevent eight types of cancer in adults. Exercise can also improve cognition in those with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder or dementia, the guidelines say. Exercise can even reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants you to get out there and move! Exercise is key to leading a healthy life. IAA knows even a little step can help you move in the right direction.

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NIH and FDA Disagree on Cell Phones and Cancer Risks

November 14th, 2018

Cell phoneWhile the National Institutes of Health (NIH) declared a link between cancer and cell phone radiation, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) disagrees with this conclusion.

Cell Phone Radiation and Cancer

The evidence is more clear that there is a link between cancer and cell phone radiation, the NIH said on November 1.

In a statement from the NIH, “the National Toxicology Program (NTP) concluded there is clear evidence that male rats exposed to high levels of radio frequency radiation (RFR) like that used in 2G and 3G cell phones developed cancerous heart tumors.”

The research included two large animal studies—one in rats and one in mice—that link high levels of cell phone radiation to some evidence of carcinogenic activity in male rats, including a rare type of tumor called a schwannoma in their hearts. There were no such significant findings in female rats. Similarly, no significant findings emerged in the mouse study, according to the reports

The animals were exposed to radio frequency radiation levels equal to and higher than the highest level currently allowed for mobile phone emissions. The researchers tracked the health of the animals from in utero to two years of age.

The researchers divided the rodents into two groups based on radiofrequency radiation levels, low or high, and exposed their entire bodies to radiofrequency radiation for 10-minute increments totaling about nine hours a day over the two-year period. 

While the FDA disagrees with the NIH, one thing the two agencies, which both fall under the Department of Health and Human Services, agree on is that the findings of these studies in rats and mice should not apply to human cell phone use.  

Concerns Over Cell Phones

There are three main reasons why people are concerned that cell phones might have the potential to cause certain types of cancer and health problems:

  1. Cell phones emit radiofrequency radiation (radio waves) a form of non-ionizing radiation, from their antennas. Parts of the body nearest to the antenna can absorb this energy.
  2. The number of cell phone users has increased rapidly. There were over 400 million cell phone subscribers in the United States in 2017, according to the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association. Globally, there are more than 5 billion cell phone users.
  3. Over time, the number of cell phone calls per day, the length of each call and the amount of time people use cell phones has increased.

The only consistently recognized biological effect of radiofrequency radiation in humans is heating. Radiofrequency exposure from cell phone use does cause heating to the area of the body where a cell phone or other device is held (e.g., the ear and head).

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants you to be aware of what is going on in the world of health. Remember, with IAA one call does it all.

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November is COPD Awareness Month

November 7th, 2018

X-ray image of lungsNovember is COPD Awareness Month. COPD, which stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that causes obstructed air flow from the lungs.

What is COPD?

COPD is an umbrella term used to describe progressive lung diseases.

Air travels down your windpipe and into your lungs through two large tubes. Inside your lungs, these tubes divide many times into many smaller tubes that end in clusters of tiny air sacs. The air sacs have very thin walls full of tiny blood vessels. The oxygen in the air you inhale passes into these blood vessels and enters into your bloodstream. At the same time, carbon dioxide is exhaled. Your lungs rely on the natural elasticity of the bronchial tubes and air sacs to force air out of your body. COPD causes them to lose their elasticity and overexpand, which leaves some air trapped in your lungs when you exhale.

Conditions that contribute to COPD are:

  1. Chronic bronchitis: Inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes, which carry air to and from the air sacs of the lungs. Chronic bronchitis is characterized by daily cough and mucus production.
  2. Emphysema: A condition in which the air sacs at the end of the smallest air passages of the lungs are destroyed as a result of damaging exposure to cigarette smoke and other irritating gasses and particulate matter.
  3. Cigarette smoke and other irritants
  4. Refractory (non-reversible) asthma: A type of asthma that does not respond to usual asthma medications. In an asthma attack, bronchial airways tighten up and swell. Medications can usually reverse this, opening up airways and returning them to how they were before the asthma attack. In refractory asthma, medications cannot reverse the tightening and swelling of airways.
  5. Alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency: About one percent of people with COPD have this disease. The disease results from a genetic disorder that causes low levels of a protein called alpha-1-antitrypsin (AAt). AAt is made in the liver and secreted into the bloodstream to help protect the lungs.    

People with COPD are at an increased risk of developing heart disease, lung cancer and a variety of other conditions.

Signs and Symptoms

COPD symptoms often don’t appear until significant lung damage has occurred, and they usually worsen over time. Signs and symptoms of COPD may include:

  • A chronic cough that may produce mucus that is clear, white, yellow, or greenish
  • Blueness of the lips or fingernail beds
  • Chest tightness
  • Frequent respiratory infections
  • Having to clear your throat first thing in the morning, due to excess mucus in your lungs
  • Lack of energy
  • Shortness of breath, especially during physical activities
  • Unintended weight loss (in later stages)
  • Wheezing  

According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), an estimated 11 million Americans suffer from COPD and several additional millions likely have COPD and don’t even know it.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants you to spread the word on COPD Awareness Month! You can help by sending this blog post on to friends and colleagues. A little bit of effort can go a long way. Remember, with IAA one call does it all.

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Actress Selma Blair Diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis

October 31st, 2018

The letters MS in orange with a black slash through them“Legally Blond” actress Selma Blair has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). Blair’s recent reveal about her diagnosis has brought new attention to this nervous system disease.

What is Multiple Sclerosis?

Like many MS patients, it was a long journey for Blair to get answers. While she was diagnosed in August, she believes she has probably had MS for at least 15 years. 

Blair is in her mid-40s. Researchers say most people are diagnosed between ages 20 and 50

In MS, the immune system attacks the protective sheath (myelin) that covers nerve fibers and causes communication problems between your brain and the rest of your body. Eventually the disease can cause the nerves themselves to deteriorate or become permanently damaged. 

Most people with MS have a relapsing-remitting disease course. They experience periods of new symptoms or relapses that develop over days or weeks and usually improve partially or completely. These relapse are followed by quiet periods of disease remission that can last months or even years.

Some people with MS experience a gradual onset and steady progression of signs and symptoms without any relapses. This is known as primary progressive MS.   

There is no cure, but treatment can help manage symptoms and slow its progression.

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of MS vary widely and depend on the amount of nerve damage and which nerves are affected. They may include:

  • Dizziness
  • Electric shock sensations that occur with certain neck movements, especially bending the neck forward
  • Fatigue
  • Numbness or weakness in one or more limbs that typically occurs on one side of the body at a time, or the legs and trunk
  • Partial or complete loss of vision, usually in one eye at a time, often with pain during eye movement
  • Problems with bowel or bladder function
  • Prolonged double vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Tingling or pain in parts of your body
  • Tremor, lack of coordination or unsteady gait

Risk factors for MS can include:

  • Age: MS can occur at any age, but most commonly affects people between the ages of 15 and 60.
  • Certain autoimmune diseases: You have a slightly higher risk of developing MS if you have thyroid disease, type 1 diabetes or inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Certain infections: A variety of viruses have been linked to MS.
  • Family history
  • Gender: Women are twice as likely as men to develop MS.

Almost one million people live with MS in the United States, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society estimates.

What IAA has to Say

When a celebrity speaks out on their personal diagnosis and/or disorder, it allows for a better understanding of certain health conditions. Insurance Administrator of America wants you to have this information on certain diseases and conditions through these blog posts. Remember, with IAA one call does it all.

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