Mar
21
2014

The Sabrina Shannon Memorial Award

Anaphylaxis Canada Now Accepting Applications

The Sabrina Shannon Memorial Award

Sabrina Shannon Memorial Award 2014

Do you know a Canadian student (under age 25) who will be attending a post-secondary education institution in September and has worked to raise allergy awareness? Anaphylaxis Canada is now accepting applications for the 2014 Sabrina Shannon Memorial Award!

From WhyRiskIt.ca:

We will be granting two awards of $1,000 each to students entering their first year or continuing their studies at a post-secondary institution.

This award recognizes the important role that youth play in raising awareness and educating others about life-threatening allergies. It is dedicated to the life of Sabrina Shannon, an inspiring teenager who suffered a fatal anaphylactic reaction in 2003. Since her passing, Sabrina’s parents and other members of the allergy community have kept Sabrina’s spirit alive by advocating for safer schools and communities across Canada.

This award has been funded through the generous support of TD Securities.

To apply, submit the following by JUNE 27, 2014:

  • A completed application form (download below)
  • A 500-1500 word essay, describing your efforts to raise awareness and educate others about life-threatening allergies
  • Contact information for two references

To start the application process, and to learn more, download the application form.

Anaphylaxis Canada has also created the Sabrina Shannon Legacy Fund to honour Sabrina's life and memory. Donations made to this fund will help to support Anaphylaxis Canada's youth programming. For more information, click here.

For more info on allergies, check out these books about severe food allergies for children of all ages and these 11 food allergy myths debunked.

Mar
20
2014

10 Tips for Surviving Spring Allergies

Here's Looking ACHOO, Kid

10 Tips for Surviving Spring Allergies

Runny noses, watery, itchy eyes, nagging coughs, itchy skin, headaches, and ohhh the sneezing. Although I'm pretty sure there isn't a person around who's not happy to bid this brutal winter adieu, with the coming season comes air full of new allergens. Spring allergies are nothing to sneeze at. Ugh, that one's too cheesy even for me, ha! Approximately one-quarter of all Canadians suffer through seasonal allergies, most of them taking antihistamines to combat their symptoms. Though those absolutely work, I've got some additional steps to help stop allergens in their tracks, and offer you some easy ways to survive spring allergies.

10. Vaccuum your mattress to suck up any dust or dust mites. Memory foam is a good option for allergy sufferers, because it's impenetrable to allergens, like dust mites.

9. Pay attention to the bedding you're using. Wash those pillows and cases frequently, use down-alternatives, and use a hypo-allergenic mattress cover, too. We throw our pillows right into the washing machine and dryer quite regularly, with no problems at all.

8. Wash stuffed toys (or freeze them if you have space) that your kids like to snuggle up with. This kills any dust mites that may have taken up residence.

7. Vacuum drapes and window coverings. We often don't realize just how effective these are at catching dust and particles. Whenever your windows are open, drapes can catch all manner of allergens, so frequently vacuuming keeps them allergen-free.

6. Flush your sinuses. Neti Pots are wonderful things! They work to get rid of colds, and are also effective at rinsing allergens out of your nose and sinuses. The reason your nose is running is to flush out the allergens, so a little gentle saline in there can keep it from feeling raw, and help the whole process.

5. Change your furnace/air conditioner filters. Ensuring that you're using HEPA filters will greatly decrease the allergens in your air, all year round. Spring is a great time to make sure your filters are new and clean.

4. Say buh-bye to wall-to-wall carpeting. If possible, avoid carpets entirely. If this isn't feasible, consider having a professional cleaning company come and give your carpets a thorough cleaning, and always use a good quality vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter to keep allergens as low as possible. 

3. Groom your pet(s) frequently, if you've got them. Do your best to keep your pets well-groomed; having them bathed frequently removes dander and loose fur, helping to reduce the amount of airborne allergies to tickle your nose.

2. Shower nightly. Think of all the places you've been during your day, and of all the dust and pollen you've collected. Bringing those allergens into the house is bad enough, but sleeping with them in your hair (and on your pillow) can aggravate allergies. Showering after your day's adventures will wash them all away.

1. Eat healthily! Boosting your immune system with healthy fruits and veggies does wonders for your mood, health, and even allergies. Giving your system some extra oomph helps it when it's combating all those new allergens that'll be flying around the air soon enough.

 

IMAGE SOURCE: RYANKING999 VIA GETTY IMAGES

 

RELATED: 5 Natural Ways To Cope With Seasonal Allergies

Mar
14
2014

Surface Allergen Removal: Quick Survey

Team at U of T Needs Our Help

Surface Allergen Removal: Quick Survey

surface allergen removal survey

A team working at the University of Toronto has recently developed a formulation that is highly effective at removing trace amounts of nut allergens from hard surfaces (compared to current household cleaning products). When tasked with creating a life science product that would improve people's quality of life, the team chose to focus on the area of food allergies. They interviewed some parents, daycare centres, and healthcare workers, and wanted to use their training as scientists and engineers to create a product to protect children with food allergies, alleviate anxiety for the parents, and give all affected peace of mind. I emailed Kevin Ming, one of those working on the team, to talk about the development of their product.

Ming said consultations with Dr. Peter Vadas of St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, and founder of Anaphylaxis Canada, led to discovering two important facts about nut allergies:

1. Constant exposure to trace amounts of nut allergens is counterproductive to their desensitization, reducing the likelihood of the child growing out of his/her allergy, and

2. Nut allergy sufferers, especially children, have more sensitive skin and, thus, more prone to skin irritations from harsher chemicals, like bleach.

Their preliminary results also show that typical household cleaners don't seem to be very effective at removing trace amounts of nut allergens from surfaces, and there doesn't seem to be any product on the market that specifically targets surface nut allergens. The findings prompted Ming and his team to create a surface allergen remover, and when compared to bleach and water, it's far safer for kids, and also environmentally-friendly.

The product is still in its developmental stages, so not available at the moment, but there's great hope on the horizon! The team wants the final product to be as user-friendly as possible, so they're looking to us for guidance in providing for the allergy community. In addition to taking the product to market, the team also hopes to start a company focused on helping people affected by food allergies, 

I really think this has great potential for keeping people safe in public (think food courts, schools, daycare centres!), and the team is reaching out to the allergy community for some help.

"We now need help from you and the community in guiding the design of our product: Would you take a few minutes to fill out our survey and distribute it to other concerned parents and allergy sufferers? We feel that food allergies is a critical yet often overlooked issue that requires more awareness, and are very excited about what this product can potentially do to help protect those who are dear to us."

It's a really quick survey, and you'd be helping develop such a great product! Please feel free to pass the survey link along to anyone who may be interested in helping out.

To read about other research helping food allergy sufferers, check out "Desensitizing Peanut Allergies" and "Potential Breakthrough for Kids With Peanut Allergies."