Archive for 2nd April 2009

ALLERGY\MEDICAL HELP: ENZYME-POTENTIATED DESENSITISATION (EPD)

In Enzyme-Potentiated Desensitisation (EPD), an enzyme (S-glu-curonidase is used in combination with allergen extracts to enhance the desensitising effect. A wide range of extracts of allergens, foods and chemicals is mixed with the enzyme which is held by a small plastic cup against a scrape on the skin for 24-48 hours, or injected into the skin. Symptoms usually show some improvement within a week, lasting two to three months at first. Treatment is repeated about once every three months, for between one and two years.

The same mixture of extract at the same dose is given to everyone, so there is no need for individual, time-consuming testing. Elimination diets or challenge testing are less important (these are usually necessary with neutralisation) but best results are obtained if these are carried out in conjunction with treatment.

Developed by Dr Len McEwen at St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, this method works very well for some people, although some do get worse before they improve.

EPD is a less costly and less disruptive form of desensitisation and has achieved some impressive results. For more information, contact the National Society for Research into Allergy which has a leaflet on the subject, and Action Against Allergy.

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WATER TREATMENTS METHODS: UNDERSINK AC FILTERS

AC filters are plumbed in undersink to supply one tap, within the scope of the skilled DIYer. They cost between £50 and £200, before any plumbing costs. Most cost between £100 and £200. Replacement cartridges cost between £10 and £60, and need replacing every six to twelve months. Some systems offer filters which have indicators of when the cartridge needs replacing. Cartridges are generally slightly cheaper than KDF filters and the cost of water correspondingly lower. Nitrate-reducing versions of undersink filters are available. Tap-flow is not affected, unlike RO systems.

Contaminants can flush back into the system from the filter with some systems. Compared to jug or end-of-tap filters, plumbed-in undersink filters are much more convenient to use and offer a higher level of purity. Depending on the model chosen, the cartridge costs are not necessarily more expensive than jug or tap filters, and the water can be comparable in cost.

Two makes of undersink filter, at the more expensive end of the range. These were the Everpure Citmart BW100 and the Ametek Fileder HM, priced at around £150-200. These systems did not flush back contaminants, and had indicators for cartridge change.

One smaller filter, the Berglen Tapmate AC 200, requiring more frequent cartridge replacement. Cartridges cost £12 and need replacing monthly.

One undersink filter, the Opella Castalia, can be adapted to filter a whole house system. The system is designed primarily for use with a sediment filter, not a carbon filter, but a carbon filter can be used. This means that all your water, including toilet, bath and laundry, can be filtered. The disadvantage is that cartridges will need replacing monthly or every six weeks. This is costly – about £3.50 per week -and inconvenient. Some plumbing advisors also discourage using carbon filters in this way, since bacteria can grow in the system when chlorine has been removed.

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YOUR CAR AND ALLERGY: PORTABLE INTERIOR FILTERS

Portable interior filters are powered by plugging into the car cigarette lighter. They draw the air inside the car through a filter medium inside them – either fabric, activated charcoal or an electrostatic surface which attracts particles – or some combination of these. For full effectiveness, keep windows closed.

The benefits of this type of filter compared to the air intake filters are that they are portable, and you can use them in any car or vehicle in which you travel. They also filter the air inside the car -so they can take out particles such as moulds, dust mites, pet hairs, and fumes from plastics, foams and materials in the car. Their main disadvantage is that unless you have a car with a recirculating air system (see page 427), they are much less effective when you use the ventilating or heating system because of fumes entering from outside. They are best used without operating air vents or heating.

One model – the NSA 600A Auto Air System – has only just been introduced in the UK and there are no reports from users of its effectiveness. It has an electrostatic filter, fabric filters and a thin activated carbon filter to absorb chemical vapours. It has an optional fragrancer which you should not use if you are chemically sensitive. It is close to 30 cm (1 foot) high and has a Velcro mounting to hold it to a surface. Its price is quoted at £110 (at 1992): replacement filters will be required regularly, depending on how much you drive. Contact NSA for names of distributors; ask for a trial period (address below).

Another portable car filter is available for import direct from the United States. The Foust #160A Air Purifier is a free-standing cylinder resting horizontally on a small bracket, about 40 cm (16 inches) in length and 23 cm (9 inches) in height. Made of metal, it contains filter media of activated carbon, alumina with potassium permanganate and a particle filter. If you think you might be sensitive to any filter media, you can obtain test samples in advance of buying a filter and Foust will supply cartridges with different types of filter mix to your needs. The Foust purifier is very effective against chemical fumes. It can be noisy, and get in the way if you have a full car load of people.

The purifier costs $242. Replacement charcoal, needed every six to twelve months, costs $18. The Test Kit costs $19. To these prices, you will need to add shipping charges, plus duty and

VAT, to be paid when the parcel arrives in this country. Duty at 4.25 per cent and VAT at 17.5 per cent will mean adding £28 to the filter, £2.20 to the cartridge, and £2.60 to the Test Kit. Shipping charges are quoted separately by Foust at time of order.

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SEX AND ALLERGY

Genital and urinary symptoms are commonly caused by infections. Make sure that you have eliminated these as possible causes before considering allergy or sensitivity. Consult your doctor.

If allergy or sensitivity is the cause, genital and urinary symptoms are not always caused by sexual activity and contraception. Symptoms such as itchy discharge, cystitis, rashes, irritation and hives around the genitals, can also result from sensitivity to foods, and to chemicals that you use elsewhere, not just from sexual contact. So if you are sensitive to these, or you find that the advice in this section does not help, it may be worth investigating foods and chemicals further.

Candidiasis and thrush can also cause genital and urinary symptoms in men and women. An overgrowth of a fungal organism which grows naturally in the body, candidiasis often accompanies allergy and sensitivity.

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HOW TO PREVENT ALLERGY REACTION TO FURNITURE

Some people react to even tiny traces of varnishes and sealing polishes used on solid wood furniture. Furniture that is not new is usually little problem. Furniture made before the 1940s is usually trouble free, since many varnishes, lacquers and polishes used then were water-based, so buy or use older furniture for preference.

If you are exceptionally sensitive to varnish fumes, or need to buy or have made a new piece of furniture, you could use water-based varnishes rather than solvent-based ones. These are well tolerated, but do not give full protection against splashes, spills or marks, and are thus not really satisfactory in everyday use. There are alternative compromise solutions which are satisfactory. If you have furniture made specially, ask the maker to use a varnish of your choice. If you buy new wooden furniture, allow it to air off varnish before use.

French polish, shellac and Japanese lacquer are solvent-based and can cause sensitivity when being applied, and shortly after, while vapours are being released. Do not use these if possible. If you do use them, ventilate well afterwards and leave the piece of furniture to air before use. If using adhesives in upholstery or repairs to furniture. If you are sensitive to resinous woods, like pine and cedar, look for furniture of less troublesome wood, such as beech, ash or oak. It may help to apply several coats of varnish to pine or cedar furniture to cut down fumes. Varnish the inside of drawers and cupboards and shelves as well. If you are sensitive to enamel paints on metal furniture, sniff carefully before buying. Wash down surfaces with a solution of one dessertspoonful of domestic Borax in a bowl of warm water. Allow to air before use and keep away from sources of heat.

Use glass and marble furniture, and mirrors, stone, slate or ceramic tiles and surfaces if you can.

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