Sjögrens syndrome is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the lacrimal and salivary glands decreasing the production of tears, saliva and moisture production in the body. This causes the most common symptoms of Sjögrens syndrome, namely dryness of the eyes and mouth. Sjögren's is one of the most prevalent autoimmune disorders, striking as many as 1 in 200 Australians. 9 out of 10 patients are women. Symptoms can plateau, worsen, or go into remission. While some people experience mild symptoms, others suffer debilitating symptoms that greatly impair their quality of life.
The Autoimmune Resource & Research Centre recently held a seminar on Sjogrens. A film of the seminar, presented by Associate Professor Glenn Reeves, can be viewed for a small fee at www.autoimmune.org.au
Read more: Sjögrens Awareness
Climate and environment impact on grass pollen allergens: why this is important
Climate changes are lengthening the pollen allergy seasons resulting in increased intensity of allergen exposure world-wide.
Pollen allergy (hay fever) and other allergies, including mould, are increasing in prevalence and severity and will continue to be a concern as warmer weather brings more allergen sensitivity. The prevalence of pollen allergy appears to be increasing, and there are associated economic costs (loss of work or school productivity) which can be addressed with new treatments and environmental control measures.
Hay fever is a common and debilitating disease, affecting 3 million Australians. The prevalence of seasonal hay fever is higher in children and adolescents than in adults. There is a significant correlation between asthma and hay fever in school children.
Read more: Climate and environment impact on grass pollen allergens: why this is important
Success of Ride for AIFA
AIFA welcomed Michael Fries and his support crew into Circular Quay on 31st March after his epic ride from Melbourne. The team raised over $3200 for AIFA and spread the word through regional Victoria and NSW about our work.
Michael raised the money on an innovative new app that encourages Generation Y to get into fundraising using small microdonations on their mobile phones. Donations will be accepted until the end of April. Every little bit helps to go a long way, as Michael knows.
Read more: Success of Ride for AIFA
Dorotea was diagnosed with Food Protein Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome (FPIES) at 4 months of age. This year research funding from AIFA is targeted at finding out more about this condition to help children like her. See www.allergyimmunology.org.au/projects
"To say that having a child with FPIES is stressful is an understatement," Dorotea's mother Amanda writes. "Getting help for these children is very difficult as the condition is rare and even many paediatricians are inexperienced in the management of it. Dorotea's first admission to hospital was after a severe reaction to soy formula. As is often the case, it was misdiagnosed as a viral gastroenteritis.
The main symptom of FPIES is profuse vomiting, which can be accompanied by pallor, floppiness, hypotension and hypothermia. The FPIES reactions may be triggered by a variety of foods, although the most common triggers in Australia are staple foods such as cow’s milk, rice/oats, soy and eggs.
Amanda explains that "the diagnosis of FPIES is just the beginning of what is often an incredibly exhausting few years. Because there is no testing available to ascertain what foods are safe, each new food needs to be trialled separately. We long to see this condition better understood so that families do not have to live with the exhaustion and uncertainty that marks our weeks."
Read more: Dorotea's story
Ride for AIFA
Michael Fries is preparing to undertake a significant mental and physical challenge to raise money for AIFA.
Our bold, new fundraiser suffered from multiple allergies as a child.
When Michael was six months old, he was diagnosed with allergies to egg, dairy, specific nuts, some meats, animal fur and dust mites.
He experienced a few close calls which were life-threatening.
"I can empathise with the daily struggle of people afflicted with allergies and the stress and anxiety that is endured by families", Michael explained.
Read more: Ride for AIFA
Fatal allergic reaction to bee sting
Tragically, last month a 57 year-old truck driver, Mark Williams, died after an allergic reaction to a bee sting in Western Australia.
"Mark did take his allergy seriously but his death shows how dangerous allergies can be and how quickly something can happen,” his wife Maree said in an article in The West Australian. (See https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/wa/a/29924289/daredevil-knew-risks-of-sting/)
A donation in Memoriam from his friends and colleagues is now listed on the Donors page of the AIFA website www.allergyimmunology.org.au/our-supporters/donors
Allergies to venoms from stinging insects are one of the most common causes of severe allergic reactions in Australia.
Read more: Fatal allergic reaction to bee sting
Personal lupus stories raise awareness
Following her revelation about her lupus diagnosis, singer Selena Gomez gave more details about her condition on the Ellen DeGeneres show recently. With millions of viewers worldwide, it was a great platform for raising awareness of this disease. Gomez explained that lupus is an autoimmune disease, which will stay with her for the rest of her life.
Natalie Cromb, an Australian blogger, has written a moving account of her family's personal story as her sister struggles with Lupus. She writes:
Chronic illness changes people - it changes families.
Chronic illness is not understood by those who aren't in the trenches with it.
Chronic illness is a lifetime on the sidelines, battling for moments. A life not lived but endured.
Read Natalie's account of the hard reality of Lupus on her blog: http://nataliecromb.blogspot.com.au/2015/09/chronic-illness-and-its-crippling.html
Lupus is most common in women (90%) and the majority develop the condition between 15 and 45.
Read more: Personal lupus stories raise awareness