There are currently as many as 1.3 million Canadians that are affected by food allergies, and this number has continued to increase – especially in children.
In an article on his Wordpress blog last fall, Vancouver physician Dr. Ali Ghahary touched upon some of the most common food allergies. These included peanuts, tree nuts (such as almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, macadamia nuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, walnuts and Brazil nuts), sesame seeds, eggs, milk, seafood, soy, wheat, mustard and sulphites.
Food allergies occur as a result of the release of a powerful chemical known as histamine, which happens when the body is exposed to certain food proteins that it deems harmful, causing a reaction in the respiratory and cardiovascular systems, the gastrointestinal tract, and the skin. In extreme cases, this histamine reaction can be fatal.
Unfortunately, there is no specific cure for food related allergies. The only way to prevent allergic reactions is to avoid the foods you are allergic to, and ensure that you are carrying around allergy medication, including an epinephrine auto-injector (commonly referred to as an Epipen.) It is also important that you take time to carefully read food labels when grocery shopping, and do so each time, as manufacturers can often change the list of ingredients and the way things are labeled. You should also avoid any products that say they “may contain” certain allergens, as there is no guarantee that you won’t be exposed to the allergen in question – this is known as cross contamination. Cross contamination occurs when allergens are transferred to foods due to being processed/cooked on the exact same machinery (or packaged around areas) that have been exposed to the allergen. When dining out, you should also make your server aware of your allergies when ordering. While many restaurants in Vancouver are well adept in accommodating allergy sufferers, it is always better to double check. As the saying goes, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Schools have also implemented strict guidelines as to what students can and cannot have packed in their lunches. For example, peanut butter. As this is a common allergen for children, many Vancouver schools have banned peanut butter all together. Some good, healthy alternatives that parents can pack in their children’s lunch include dried fruits and cheese.
Allergens, however, are not the only problem. Food sensitivities can also be an issue, though they are much less severe than having a food allergy and are often limited to the digestive tract, resulting in GI (gastrointestinal) problems, such as stomach cramps and/or upset. Celiac disease is another common GI condition. Individuals who have celiac cannot eat gluten, and must stick to a strict gluten-free diet to avoid developing associated symptoms. For more information on this and food allergies, visit Dr. Ali Ghahary’s blog at https://alighahary.wordpress.com.
It’s not uncommon to experience leg pain (or pain in other extremities.) This can be due to a number of reasons, with the most common reason for leg pain being normal wear and tear if the tendons, arthritis (which commonly happens as a result of aging), or sports injuries resulting in inflammation. Typically, pain like this is remedied with simple over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, and will go away over time…though that is not always the case.
Dr. Ali Ghahary, a family physician, warns about the dangerous side of leg pain, and why it isn’t always something you should ignore.
Leg pain can also be a sign that you may have a blood clot, as the leg’s veins is the most common spot for a blood clot to occur. This is commonly referred to in the medical industry as Deep Vein Thrombosis, or DVT, and it affects thousands of Canadians each year. Clotting of the blood is a needed process that helps the body from losing excessive amounts of blood, such as when you suffer from a wound. However, with a clot, the blood does not do what it needs to do and changes to an almost solid state, which then causes pain. Individuals who do have a blood clot may not have any symptoms depending on the size of the clot itself. However, you may also notice the affected area feels unusually warm in addition to swelling and discolouration of the skin – usually bluish or pale.
Poor circulation is another reason you might suffer from leg pain. In order to keep your joints healthy, it is important to stay physically active – something Dr. Ali Ghahary not only advocates for patients, but also does, too, by biking around Vancouver and skiing at Whistler. The city has many great spots to partake in physical activity, including parks, beaches, and community centres.
Whatever the cause of your leg pain, you should always schedule an appointment with your physician to discuss the symptoms that you are experiencing to make sure your health is in order and that nothing more sinister, such as a blood clot, is at play.
If you do not have a family physician, Dr. Ghahary is always available to see patients at Brentwood Medical Clinic in Burnaby, BC, and you do not need an appointment. His walk-in schedule and clinic directions can be found by visiting his website at http://vancouverphysician.net.