Halloween: A scary time for those with asthma and allergies.

Most parents of kids with food allergies are well aware of the potential dangers of trick-or-treat candy and have strategies in place to avoid Halloween horrors. However, teaching your kids to just say no to Snickers bars may not be enough.   According to experts from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) there are many more unexpected allergy and asthma triggers that can pose a threat to trick-or-treaters, including dusty costumes, fog machines and makeup. “When people think of Halloween-associated allergies, they focus on candy and often overlook many other potential triggers,” said Dr. Myron Zitt, former ACAAI president in a news release. “By planning ahead, you can ensure not only safe treats, but also safe costumes, makeup, accessories and decorations.” The ACAAI advises parents to be on the lookout for six potential triggers they may not be expecting, including:

  • Gelatin  – Although it’s a less common trigger, research published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology shows gummy bears and other candies may contain this potential allergen. Parents can have their child tested for specific allergies and develop a food allergy treatment plan. They may also want to have some non-candy treats, such as stickers or small toys, on hand to swap for candy.
  • NickelCostume details and accessories, such as belts, tiaras and swords may contain nickel — one of the most common causes of allergic contact dermatitis, which can make skin itchy.
  • Dust mitesOld costumes packed away in attics or closets may be filled with dust mites, which trigger asthma and allergies. Parents should either buy or make new costumes or wash old ones before kids put them on.
  • Makeup Some types of face and body makeup may include preservatives that may cause allergic reactions. Buying higher quality theater makeup can help avoid this trigger. Also be sure to test the makeup on a small patch of skin before applying it over a larger area of skin at least a few days before Halloween.
  • FogReal fog or fog machines can trigger asthma in some people.
  • PumpkinsAllergies to pumpkins are rare, but they can develop suddenly — especially when they are moldy or dusty. As a result, pumpkins purchased at a busy grocery store are less likely to trigger an allergy.

You have been warned!!!  Please stay safe out there this Halloween.

Uncontrolled asthma leads to out of control costs

SRxA’s Word on Health has often reported on the price of non-adherence to treatment . So, although we were shocked, we weren’t surprised to learn that poorly controlled asthma doubles costs and affects children’s performance in school.

According to a study just published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology  children with very poorly controlled asthma miss an average of 18 days from the classroom; whereas kids whose disease is better controlled, are absent for two days or less.

The investigators from National Jewish Hospital studied 628 children aged 6-12 with severe asthma. They looked at direct medical costs such as medications, unscheduled doctor visits, emergency department visits and hospital admissions as well as the indirect costs such as school days lost.

Patients were divided into three groups: very poorly controlled, not well controlled and well controlled. Costs were evaluated at the start of the study and then one and two years later.

The group, led by Stanley Szefler MD found that the costs for very poorly controlled patients were twice as high as those of the other groups at baseline. Very poorly controlled patients cost $7,846, compared with $3,526 for not-well controlled and $3,766 for well-controlled.

Two years later the costs for the very poorly controlled group had risen to $8,880 while costs for those with well-controlled asthma dropped to $1,861.  Indirect costs accounted for approximately half the total asthma costs for very poorly controlled asthma patients at each time point.

The authors concluded that very poorly controlled asthma is a major economic burden and improvement in asthma control and is associated with reducing cost.

SRxA together with our expert Allergy and Pulmonary Advisors  can help pharmaceutical companies promote better management strategies that may significantly reduce this burden of illness. For more information, contact us today.