Over-the-Counter Bentrio Approved for Allergic Rhinitis

With the warmer weather and outdoor activities comes more exposure to nasal allergy symptoms. This week the FDA approved an over-the-counter nasal barrier spray to combat inhaled nasal allergies. Called Bentrio, it sprays a clay mineral bentonite which is drug-free, preservative free and forms a thin protective gel layer on the nasal mucosa to prevent contact of allergens with nasal cells. If allergens encounter nasal cells, they begin a chain reaction release of chemicals which can trigger an ongoing allergic reaction for up to 14 days.

The product’s mineral bentonite coating was compared to an existing product using hydroxypropyl methylcellulose in protecting against allergic symptoms after exposure to a known pollen. The Bentrio provided similar relief over a four-hour period. Expect to see this product on the counters of US stores this coming fall.

Shampoos and Allergens

I saw my dermatologist because of an allergic skin condition he called atopic dermatitis or eczema. Dry itching crusty skin is neither fun to live with or fun to look at. He gave me a bunch of hypoallergenic “clean” soaps, creams and shampoos to try.

Ironically, while reading one of my online medical synopsis journals I came upon an article about allergic substances in shampoos. There are apparently traditional shampoos and other shampoos supposedly less allergenic and called “clean.” There are no regulations over the right to claim your product is hypoallergenic or “clean.”

In a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, authored by L. Ghafari and associates, they found that every clean shampoo and 99% of the traditional shampoos contained fragrances. If you are allergic to fragrances, then all of these products can produce irritation or an allergic reaction.

The researchers went to three stores and identified 85 clean shampoos and 124 traditional shampoos . The clean shampoos were less likely to use allergenic chemicals such as methlsothiazolinone than the traditional shampoos. Both types of products used chemicals that are known to be less irritating or allergenic than others, but few were actually “clean”. The moral of the review was that few of the clean shampoos were actually “clean”. If you have sensitive allergic skin then your dermatologist or allergist may have to suggest a prescription product or particular over-the-counter product that is truly hypoallergenic to prevent your skin allergic reaction.

Allergies Worsening Due to Climate Change

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology and the World Asthma Organization just concluded their joint congress in Orlando, Florida. One of the topics of concern is how climate change is making everyone’s allergy symptoms much worse.

We read about more powerful hurricanes and cyclones, seasonal tornadoes occurring out of season, horrible beach erosion and flooding due to large volume rains, lack of rain causing poor harvests leading to waves of migration for survival for animals and humans. Climate change also exacerbates allergy symptoms. Nelson A. Rosario, MD, PhD, professor of pediatrics at Federal University of Parana (Brazil) discussed longer pollen season and increased allergens caused by fallen trees and ripped up plants, mold growing following flooding and irritants in the air due to wildfires. An international survey in 2015 found that 80% of rhinitis patients blamed their symptom exacerbations on climate change items. Pollen seasons have more than doubled in some areas.

The argument should not be about whether climate change is due to cyclical planetary changes or man-made pollutants. It should be about what we can do as a society to maintain economic growth while limiting man made contribution to adverse climate changes. The health and survival consequences of not addressing this issue will ultimately involve our survival as a species.

Metal Joint Replacement – Should Allergy Testing Be Done First?

As our physically active baby boomers age, more and more of them are facing the need for joint replacement. We run, golf, bike and attend exercise class all in the name of fitness and cardiovascular health.  As a result, many of us have bodies that are becoming beat up and worn.

There have been numerous articles discussing the large increase in knee and hip replacements in active 50 year olds who wish to continue to be as active as they were prior to joint replacement surgery.  An article appeared in this week’s MedPage online journal about a small Italian study conducted regarding chronic pain in “successful “metal joint replacements in the lower extremity. Most of us know someone who had a perfectly unremarkable uncomplicated knee or hip replacement who is now suffering from unexplained pain at the surgically repaired joint site.  X Rays show perfect alignment. CT Scans and MRI scans show perfect surgical alignment. The patient remains in pain.

The study released by Italian researchers’ discusses allergic contact allergy being the cause of the continued pain. The individuals evaluated are allergic to the metals in the artificial joint. In the study subjects were patch tested in advance of joint replacement. Those showing allergic sensitivity to metals contained in the prosthesis received a hypoallergenic product instead. They did not develop the unexplained pain and discomfort and had a great outcome. While the study was small and the results preliminary, it raises the question of whether allergy patch testing prior to elective joint replacement should, and will, become the norm in the future.