Friday, December 2, 2016

Shellfish and Seafood Allergies

Contributing Author: Gentle Heron

The last time I ate shrimp tempura was 20 years ago. Suddenly, and surprisingly, my lips started to swell, my face to get itchy, and my heart to pound. I had developed a shellfish allergy. I have not dared to try to eat shellfish since that day.

Shellfish include shrimp, lobster, crab, clams, scallops, mussels and squid. Finned fish (such as salmon, cod, tuna and catfish) are grouped with shellfish as seafood. Shrimp are the type of shellfish that most commonly cause an allergic reaction. Not everyone who is allergic to shellfish is also allergic to finned fish, and vice versa.

Shellfish or seafood allergies can be life-threatening. The victim’s body reacts to proteins in the shellfish or seafood and causes a sudden anaphylactic reaction. Minor reactions can be skin rashes and itchiness. More severe reactions can lead to low blood pressure, asthma, or swelling of the throat so severe that breathing is difficult. Severe anaphylactic reactions must be treated in the emergency room.

Many myths exist about shellfish and seafood allergies. Let’s look at some of them.

Myth: Shellfish allergies begin in childhood.
Fact: Allergic reactions can occur at any age, and the initial occurrence can be severe. Unfortunately, people do not generally outgrow allergies to shellfish, and it is not unusual for someone to be allergic to many kinds of shellfish.
Myth: It’s the iodine people are allergic to.
Fact: Although shellfish and seafood contain iodine, that is not what causes allergies. It is specific proteins in the shrimp or codfish, called allergens for the reaction they cause.
Myth: You can’t have a CT (computerized tomography) scan because you’ll be allergic to the contrast dye.
Fact: The content of the contrast dye used in CT scans is not related to the allergens in shellfish. Although some people do have a reaction to contrast dye, it is unrelated to allergies to shellfish or seafood.
Myth: Avoid foods that contain carrageenan.
Fact: Carrageenan is a food additive made from a type of algae or seaweed. It is common in dairy products and other household items. It is not associated with seafood allergies.
Myth: You have to actually eat the seafood to get an allergic reaction.
Fact: The allergens in seafood can be transmitted in steam from cooking fish or shellfish, and can cause an allergic reaction in those who are sensitive. This is why people who are severely allergic to shellfish or seafood must avoid restaurants where it can be smelled.

Image from Pixabay

For information about shellfish allergies:

For information on seafood allergies:

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Are You OK Drinking Wine?

Contributing author: Gentle Heron

It turns out that more than one in twenty adults probably isn’t OK drinking wine. A study by German researchers found that 7% of those surveyed reported significant symptoms when drinking wine. The symptoms reported included itching, runny nose and flushed skin, and were more commonly reported from red wine than from white varieties. Some respondents reported diarrhea, stomach cramps, or irregular heartbeat.

The researchers concluded that although these symptoms could be indicative of an allergy, they were more likely to be from an intolerance.

What is the difference between intolerance and allergies? Allergies are an immune system response that occurs when the body reacts as if a harmless substance is harmful. Intolerance is a digestive system response, when the body can’t properly break down food. Although symptoms are somewhat similar, hives and swelling of the tongue are much more common with allergic reactions.

The fact that intolerance is more common to red than to white wines may be due to the presence of proteins in grape skins. White wines are fermented without the skins, and so would have less of that protein. Some people reported not only intolerance to wine, but to all alcoholic beverages. That means for some people, the alcohol in wine is the cause of their discomfort. Very few people reported an intolerance to grapes.

One humorous finding of this study: Those reporting intolerance to wine were no less likely to drink it! This could be because they switched to a type of wine that produced fewer symptoms. Of course, it is also possible that their symptoms were not troubling enough to convince them to stop drinking wine altogether.

Prevalence of Wine Intolerance:

Image from Morguefile

Monday, November 28, 2016

Support Virtual Ability When You Shop at Amazon

If you are one of the many people who use, you can support Virtual Ability every time you shop. Just use to launch Amazon instead of the usual “”, and Amazon will automatically donate 0.5% of your purchase price to Virtual Ability, Inc.® There is no additional cost to you (or to VAI) whatsoever.

Virtual Ability uses the funds generated by this program to help pay for our community services, including our Second Life and InWorldz islands.

Just remember to use this link when you sign into Amazon, and you will be directly helping us!

How does AmazonSmile work?
When first visiting AmazonSmile, customers select a charitable organization from almost one million eligible organizations. For eligible purchases at AmazonSmile, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price to the customer’s selected charitable organization.

What is the AmazonSmile Foundation?
The AmazonSmile Foundation is a 501(c)(3) private foundation created by Amazon to administer the AmazonSmile program. All donation amounts generated by the AmazonSmile program are remitted to the AmazonSmile Foundation. In turn, the AmazonSmile Foundation donates those amounts to the charitable organizations selected by our customers. Amazon pays all expenses of the AmazonSmile Foundation; they are not deducted from the donation amounts generated by purchases on AmazonSmile.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

IDRAC Spotlight: Meet L’Arche- Saturday, November 19, 8am SLT

The first IDRAC session for Saturday November 19, beginning at 8am Pacific, is an opportunity to “Meet L’Arche.” Begun in France in 1964, L’Arche is now an international network of intentional mixed residential communities for people with and without intellectual disabilities.

Melanie Saxon, Community Leader / Executive Director of L’Arche Jacksonville (FL) will share some of L’Arche’s history and mission through the use of short videos. The facilities of L’Arche Jacksonville include four homes, a community center and the Rainbow Workshop day program.

Ms. Saxon’s previous roles include Executive Director of the North Central Florida Chapter of the American Red Cross, Development Director of University of Florida Performing Arts, Executive Director of Voices for Kids of Southwest Florida and Executive Director of the North Central Florida AIDS Network.

In addition, Ms. Saxon has raised funds for United Way, the Alzheimer’s Association and the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation. She served as Executive Producer of the Florida Film Festival and has coordinated numerous arts in education programs in K-12 schools, along with teaching third grade. Her additional volunteer experience includes serving as a Rotarian, a Stephen Minister, and a Big Sister.