Deadly food allergies

Coughing, tingling in the mouth, skin reactions such as hives and itching, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain or diarrhea can all be symptoms of food allergies — which can also cause a severe reaction called anaphylaxis, which includes having trouble breathing, a drop in blood pressure and narrowing of the airways.

The National Institutes of Health News in Health for May says that 30,000 severe allergic reactions and 150 deaths a year are caused by food allergies. And allergies are apparently becoming more common.

They occur if your immune system has an abnormal reaction to food. Foods that cause fish and shellfish, eggs, milk, peanuts and tree nuts such as walnut. The nut allergies are the most likely to cause anaphylaxis.

You're more likely to develop food allergies if someone in your family has some type of allergy. And people with asthma are at particular risk for anaphylactic reaction. Children are more likely than adults to outgrow allergies, with the exception of peanuts, which they never outgrow.

The only cure for a food allergy, the report says, is to avoid that food. And if you have allergies, find out what to do in case you accidentally eat that particular food. Be cautious and call 911 if you or someone else appears to be having a severe reaction to food.

Excessive sweating

If just shaking a hand is embarrassing because of excessive sweating, it's time to talk to a care provider, according to the May issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter.

Called focal hyperhidrosis, it commonly involves excessive daytime sweating of the palms, soles and underarms. It usually begins by age 20, is not associated with underlying health conditions and often runs in families.

Treatment options include antiperspirants (and there are prescription strength ones available as well), iontophoresis, oral medications, botulinum injections and surgery (if other treatments haven't worked).

Iontophoresis involves placing hands or feet in water while a batter-powered device delivers a low-voltage current through the water. It takes 15 to 30 minutes daily for a couple of weeks, then less frequently after to maintain it. Results vary, the report says.

The oral medications are in the anticholinergic class, but there are side effects to be weighed, as well. Antianxiety meds may help is sweating is stress induced. Effects of the botulinum injections wear off after four months to a year and injection must be repeated. As for the surgery, it entails removing sweat glands from the underarms or severing the nerve in the chest that carries messages to the sweat glands. It's a major procedure, but effective.

Drug side effects

A meta-analysis of 14 trials involving 3,197 patients with restless leg syndrome finds that the major drug therapy reduces the severity of symptoms, but many patients stop using it because of adverse side effects, including nausea, dizziness, drowsiness and fatigue. The drug therapy mainstay is nonergot dopamine agonists. And further analysis shows the treatments are most helpful in the first weeks, but their effects diminish somewhat over time.

The researchers want more study into the effectiveness of individual nonergot dopamine agonists with each other, as well as more follow-up to look at long-term effects, according to the study in the Annals of Family Medicine.