What is an allergy?

50 million Americans are allergic to something. Yes, allergy is that common. Be it pollen, food or animal dander, there are plenty of such allergens around us causing different types of allergies that include allergic rhinitis, asthma, food allergies, insect venom allergy, drug allergies, latex allergies, eczema, allergic conjunctivitis, chemical sensitivity, and so. However, among all the types of allergies known, food allergy is one of the most common allergies. 

Food Allergies

Food allergies are common. However, they are not the same as food poisoning or food intolerance. Food poisoning occurs when you become ill after consuming spoilt food whereas intolerance is when the body is not able to digest a particular food type. For example, lactose intolerance is a common food intolerance where the body is unable to digest lactose. On the other hand, food allergies occur when the body’s immune system identifies a particular food protein as an allergen or a potential threat. To combat this foreign substance, the body produces specific antibodies and releases potent chemicals, like histamine. As a result, you develop symptoms like itching, swelling, coughing, wheezing, and in severe cases, a life-threatening condition called anaphylaxis. 

Common food allergies and allergens

Does your nose start running the moment you have hot spicy food? Do you get diarrhea if you eat cheese? These are common food reactions that many of us develop mostly due to food intolerance. Food allergy occurs when the body’s immune system identifies harmless food as allergens or foreign substances and starts reacting to it. From mild skin rashes to swelling of lips, and gasping for breath in severe cases are common signs of food allergies. Although they are serious, you can manage food allergies. Here are some of the most common food allergens

  • Milk (mostly in children)
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts, like walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, brazil nuts, and pecans
  • Soy
  • Wheat 
  • Fish (mostly in adults)
  • Shellfish (mostly in adults)

Some food allergens may cause allergic reactions in some individuals although these are rare:

  • Corn
  • Gelatin
  • Meat – beef, chicken, mutton, and pork
  • Seeds, often sesame, sunflower, and poppy
  • Spices, such as caraway, coriander, garlic, and mustard

Common symptoms of food allergy

Allergic symptoms can be from mild to severe. Symptoms may appear immediately after eating the food or hours later. Watch out for these signs to detect food allergy:

Mild symptoms 

  • Skin rash
  • Itching
  • Red and swollen skin
  • Itchy mouth and ear
  • Runny or stuffed nose
  • Sneezing and dry cough
  • Throwing up
  • Stomach upset and stomach ache
  • Diarrhea

Moderate symptoms

  • Swollen lips, tongues, throat
  • Chest pain and uneven heartbeat
  • Trouble breathing and swallowing

Severe symptoms

In severe cases, a food allergy can become life-threatening which is known as anaphylaxis. People who have asthma are more prone to develop anaphylaxis from food allergies. If you are prone to it, your doctor may suggest you to carry epinephrine injectables.  

Know about the hidden triggers

The best way to avoid a food allergy is to avoid the food. For this, you need to identify the hidden triggers. For example, if you are allergic to egg, know the ingredients before consuming a piece of cake or a cookie because it might contain eggs! Similarly, if you are allergic to milk protein, know that a piece of hotdog may contain milk protein. 

How many people have food allergies?

As we already mentioned, food allergy is extremely common. Researchers estimate that 32 million Americans have food allergies. Studies published in 2018 and 2019 estimate the number of Americans of all ages who have convincing symptoms of allergy to specific foods:

  • shellfish: 8.2 million
  • milk: 6.1 million
  • peanut: 6.1 million
  • tree nuts: 3.9 million
  • egg: 2.6 million
  • finfish: 2.6 million
  • wheat: 2.4 million
  • soy: 1.9 million
  • sesame: 0.7 million

While most children outgrow food allergies, for most adults it is incurable. However, a food allergy can be managed by avoiding the particular food. Reach out to your doctor immediately if you develop symptoms as mild symptoms may become severe and life-threatening at times.  

It is also advisable to keep a diligent record of your meals. This will help you analyze the foods that you eat, along with any symptoms you might experience once you have consumed the food. Such a food diary will help you take charge of your health.

Allergy finder is live

We have created a platform to record all your meals, symptoms and allergic reactions in a very simple way. Keep an orderly diary of your allergic reactions. In addition, you can help others by registering products and their content. 

Here are some of the most important functionalities for the app:

  • Easy to use: We want to provide a unique and simple experience, which is very easy for the user to register, consult and help.
  • Keep track of every meal: Keep an unlimited record of your meals, a history that lets you know from your experience or that of other allergic reactions that may occur.
  • Set reminders: Allergy Finder will send you a reminder a few hours after registering your last meal to enter the most common reactions. This in turn will help others when their meals include the same ingredients.
  • Get a full profile: With the registration of your meals, symptoms and reactions you will have a complete profile to take care of your life. You will be in control of what you should and should not eat with more accurate information.
  • Great Design: We are improving the user experience all the time so that such an important topic is easy to manage, we expect feedback from your experience to continue improving.
  • Awesome Features: We add the basic functionalities but we will continue adding new and impressive functionalities, we know that our work and your collaboration can save lives.
  • Powerful Options: Our functionalities provide a great source of information and allow the analysis of data based on your interaction. Making our platform a powerful help to reach many people.
  • Great Support: We support you on the use and functionality of the system, we want it to be easy to use and allow you to gather information, look for our support and documentation system or write us an email if you have questions.

How it Works?

To start using our app you just have to follow this steps: 

  • Step 1: Download the App and register.
  • Step 2: Register every meal in your private journal
  • Step 3: Scan products and help other identify allergies

We have a very low cost subscription payment but you can test the App for 7 days free.

As our CEO said on his FB account:

“After 7 months of hard work and dedication the team made the dream a reality. This app is 7 YEARS in the making. I originally wrote down the idea in a notebook 7 years ago. but today… TODAY its officially live on the Apple App Store.

I literally could not have done it without Omar Alvarez, Farwah, Danyal and Sohaib. Teamwork makes the dream work baby!” 

Christopher Franko 

For download links and more info check out the link.

App

Gamification of Health Apps: Where Staying Fit is (Really) Fun

In this article, we discuss why a food journal is vital for sufferers and how or to-be-launched Allergy Finder App is a great tool that is made even more intuitive and fun to use with its strong gamification aspect.  

What is Gamification

A very simple definition of gamification would say that it is the application of game design and style in non-gaming contexts. This approach is used to solve problems by engaging the players or participants in otherwise everyday tasks and making these activities more fun and interesting.

Nowadays, gamification is being used in many industries, including healthcare, transforming mundane user experiences into the excitement of playing a game. Mostly, it is used in fitness applications, medical adherence and medical education.

Here we explore the gamification of health applications, which has, undeniably, made staying fit fun.

Gamification in Health Applications

Gamification not only increases our focus but also enables us to attain goals which otherwise would have been too difficult for us to reach. This aspect of gamification has successfully been exploited by the health industry. As early as 2016, Fitbit announced that it was teaming up with other corporations to track employees and use the data to track their health habits. Thus, in the beginning, Fitbit was used by various companies as a fitness tracker for their employees, motivating them to take better care of their well-being in the corporate rat-race. Slowly, gamification was incorporated in many other fitness apps, at which we shall take a brief look.

Examples of Gamification in Health Applications

Pact: Perhaps this is the most fun of all fitness applications out there. Pact tracks fitness on mobile phone devices and those users who do not meet their fitness goals have to contribute money—which goes to those users who have met their goals! It is only natural that nobody likes to pay anyone on their expense.

Mango Health: On a completely different level, Mango Health is an application which motivates patients to take their medications on time. The users set a time on which they need to take medications and the app reminds them like an alarm. Having taken their medications properly, they earn points and get gift cards and more. The application also educates patients about drugs and their side effects.

EveryMove: EveryMove uses competitiveness to motivate users to stay fit. It collects data from mobile devices and allows friends to compare one another’s progress.

mySugr: mySugr is an Australian startup which provides a fun solution for diabetes management. It has a separate app for helping children with diabetes management which is called mySugr Junior App. mySugr has been very successful with all age groups and it has more than one million registered users and is available in 52 countries in at least 13 languages. Most recently, it was acquired by the pharmaceutical giant Roche.

How Gamification can Help people Fight Food Allergies

Gamification has been steadily on rise in various industries including education, marketing and social living. It has been of a particular success in the health industry. Where it is hard for people to keep up their spirits while trying to be fit, gamification not only helps them achieve this goal but also brings much fun in the process. 

32 million Americans have food allergies. That means one in every 10 adults and one in every 13 children. Researchers have found an increasing prevalence in food allergies in the industrialized world for the past 50 years. The burden of this problem is the fact that there has been a steady rise in the number of ER visits for food allergy-related emergencies. 

While there is no cure for food allergies, the best way to stay away from it is through prevention and avoiding food that you are allergic to. But how do you identify which food you are allergic to? 

Food journaling or a food diary is a great way to identify the ‘culprit’. Maintaining a food journal can be an extremely helpful way to avoid “rogue” foods and to keep track of adverse reactions when they happened so as to avoid them the next time. 

In the food journal, keep making entries every time you eat or drink something. Record if you show any allergic symptoms like itching, coughing, swelling, redness, diarrhea, stomach ache, wheezing, etc. Record the time when the symptoms start. This information is vital for you and your doctor to strategize your dietary schedule and avoid certain foods.

Maintaining a physical journal can be cumbersome for most sufferers. A manual food diary also does not make analysis easy. Everything, from recording meals to analyzing potential allergens and problem foods has to be done manually. This can become quite a task. Maybe things would become a whole lot easier if there was an easy to use app for it? Would not a digital food journal help?

In the last newsletter, we had mentioned about the development of the Allergy Finder App. This app is more than a food journal though. It is a community empowerment tool, where collective data will help sufferers take control of their health. We are in the process of giving the final touches to the app and we expect to launch it soon.

The app is free to download and comes with a 7-day free trial. After that users will need to subscribe to continue using its services at a flat rate of $34.99 per year. 

A lot of thought has gone into the making of this app with subject matter experts, tech experts and food allergy sufferers chipping in with their insights. We believe that this app will be a great tool for the millions of food allergy sufferers to take control of their condition and live a healthy life with informed dietary choices.   

How we can create a frictionless society with the help of blockchain technology

 

Blockchain, in simple terms, is a peer-to-peer digital ledger of records, which is distributed and accessible to all nodes that are part of the ecosystem. The nodes may be in any part of the world, and the data shared on the ledger can range from contracts to payments to votes to accounts to transfer of ownership. Sharing and storing of data is completely secure and private. Since the data runs and gets recorded on multiple devices simultaneously, there is no chance of tampering, making the system transparent and immutable at the same time.

As more and more aspects of our lives have been taken over by the internet, like shopping, banking, travel bookings and plethora of other services, there is need for more secure platforms since there is a lot of information exchange happening online, and the internet has failed its users several times (data leaks, hacked and modified data, etc.). Blockchain technology, with its smart codes and contracts, is the perfect keeper of that information. The exchange of data is automated and hack-proof. What you put up on blockchain cannot be changed by anyone, and again, you cannot put up just anything on the blockchain since a transaction has to fulfill certain parameters and be verified before it gets a place on the blockchain.

What makes Blockchain so efficient that it can help create a frictionless society?

For one, it offers absolute data security, complete ownership of the data and enormous savings in cost and time in conducting financial transactions along with complete transparency for all parties involved. There is no chance of fraud, no doubt about authenticity and no need of intermediaries, and the cost thereof.  Smart contracts on blockchain are based on algorithms that run without human intervention, and are also error-free.

It is simple, without the need of elaborate documents like conventional institutions doing the same job, and thus, within everyone’s reach. With decentralization of data, there is no chance of bias or loss/theft/manipulation of data. This gives participants complete control of data/assets and makes the ecosystem trustworthy or more precisely, “trustless”.

Governments all over the world are entrusted with protecting their people, executing measures and plans to boost prosperity of their people and to provide a variety of services (legal and financial, for example) to their people. As the world moves ahead, business is happening between not just regions in a country but between countries too, and every country having a different set of rules and laws of doing business, more often than not, acts as a hindrance to global development.

Blockchain can help in conducting seamless transactions between individuals and businesses belonging to different countries, making the society practically frictionless.

Another divide that can be addressed with the help of blockchain is that between rapidly developing urban centers and underserved rural regions. Rural populations have little or no access to legal or financial services and as a result, are left to struggle for survival with meager means. Blockchain can help in better distribution of resources and can help the government take proactive measures to provide and deploy resources where they are needed the most.

Emergency services like disaster management can become more efficient with the help of blockchain technology. While bureaucracy has its constraints when it comes to aiding those who have been hit by natural disasters, blockchain can help overcome those constraints and gather help from all quarters with efficient monitoring of aid. Also, when people donate for those in need, they can be assured that their donations would reach the right people instead of landing up in the pockets of corrupt officials.

Cryptocurrencies can be the solution to all problems that are associated with standard fiat currency, and its now well-known salient features are making them more acceptable among people, without any interference from any government. Crypto transactions can happen based on smart contracts without any additional legal regulation. Corporates can also pay their employees, suppliers or shareholders in any part of the world without any hassle. The bank, as the trusted but not a very helpful third party, will soon become redundant and cryptocurrencies will replace more than 25% of world currencies.

Managing and storing identity records will become simpler and safer on blockchain. Once on the blockchain, they cannot be modified or stolen, and a single digital identity could be your global passport to access any service you need. Cyber security will become a reality, with authentic cyber identities.

Just as the internet brought information to our fingertips with platforms for sharing music, news, photos etc., blockchain will bring clarity and authenticity to all the information, be it about people, about money or about governments. People of the world, divided by political borders, can come together and progress together as a unified force with the help of blockchain technology, since it comprises of a global currency and honest dealings between autonomous networks of individuals.

Some broad applications of Blockchain

Blockchain is so versatile and adaptive, almost anything that can be expressed in code can be recorded on blockchain, and some examples are,

  • Birth and death records
  • Digital assets
  • Contracts
  • Educational records
  • Medical records
  • Insurance claims
  • Financial transactions

 

The bottomline

If there ever was a time for the common masses all over the world to be a part of something truly unifying and empowering, it is now. Blockchain, with its numerous benefits, is capable of paving the way for a decentralized governance system that is uniform and fair for everyone, where there is no need to pay exorbitant fees for simple services, and where getting connected to the right people for your business is not a distant dream, where voting will be simple, private yet transparent, and can be verified accurately and swiftly.

The best part of it all is that you need not be a blockchain expert or a technology geek to be a part of the blockchain ecosystem. Expanse.tech has a platform ready for you for sharing and storage of data or conducting financial transactions. It is the world’s first stable fork of Ethereum and can be used to create any kind of project. If you have a vision, just hop onto Expanse and explore the endless possibilities of this revolutionary new technology.