A Question and Answer Session with Dr. William Howland About Food Allergies


Austin, Texas-based allergist Dr. William Howland has many specialties. However, one area of particular interest to Dr. Howland is food allergies. According to Dr. William Howland, a little known fact about food allergies is that they tend to be regional. For instance, Dr. William Howland reports that in the United States peanut allergies have risen substantially during the last decade, but that peanut allergies in China are rare. Dr. William Howland notes that no research has been able to ascertain the discrepancy between the two countries. Many aspects of food allergies remain a mystery. Recently, Dr. William Howlandsat down for a question and answer session with Zrylw to discuss food allergies.

Zrylw: What are common allergies in children?

Dr. William Howland:First of all, thank you for having me. Now to answer your question,the most common allergies in children areeggs, milk, peanuts, soy and wheat.

Zrylw:Do children grow out of food allergies?

Dr. William Howland:Most children grow out of their egg and milk allergies. However, peanut allergies tend to last a lifetime.

Zrylw:What foods do adults tend to be allergic to?

Dr. William Howland:I have seen many cases of allergy to fin fish, peanuts, shellfish and tree nuts.

Zrylw:What are some food allergy symptoms?

Dr. William Howland:Food allergy symptoms include – but aren’t limited to – hives, difficulty breathing, itching in the mouth, tongue, palms or feet and in severe cases shock can occur.

Zrylw:Why do our bodies react to certain foods in such a drastic way?

Dr. William Howland:People with food allergies have their immune system go into overdrive when a food allergen is introduced. Then the allergy antibody IgE is released to fight the food. With repeated exposure, the IgE clashes with cells that trigger an allergic reaction.

Zrylw:Are food allergies fatal?

Dr. William Howland:Oh yes, they can be fatal at times. Some children are so allergic to peanuts, for instance, that their teachers and fellow students cannot have peanuts in the classroom.

Zrylw: What can patients do to control their food allergies?

Dr. William Howland:The most important treatment is complete avoidance of that food.  Patients with food allergy need to be tested by an allergist to determine their sensitivities.  Sensitive patients should always carry an auto injecting epinephrine syringe to use in an emergency.  Unfortunately there are presently no ways to decrease food allergy sensitivity.

Zrylw:Is there a difference between food allergies and food intolerance?

Dr. William Howland:There is a very big difference between the two. The IgE anti-body doesn’t cause food intolerance. And even though food intolerance can make a patient feel very uncomfortable or create pain, dangerous and life threatening reactions do not occur with food intolerance.

Zrylw:Well, I think we’ve pretty much covered the basics of food allergies. Do you have anything that you would like to add, before we let you go?

Dr. William Howland: The only thing I would like to add, is that anyone who thinks they have a food allergy should make an appointment to consult with an allergist. And thank you for having me!

For more information, visit Dr. William Howland online at www.nosneezes.com

About Dr. William Howland

Growing up in Austin, Texas, Dr. William Howland suffered with allergies. Experiencing them firsthand made the decision to specialize in asthma and allergies as a medical doctor an easy one. Since his return to Austin in 1991, Dr. William Howland has been helping Texans cope with Austin’s extreme allergens.

In addition to his private practice at the Allergy and Asthma Center of Austin (www.nosneezes.com), Dr. William Howland researches new medicines and treatments for asthma and allergies through his research group, Sirius Clinical Research. Dr. William Howland has spent the past fifteen years experimenting with various treatments, determined to find relief for allergy sufferers across the region.

Unlike many other areas, Austin has three distinct allergy seasons, including wintertime when Cedar Fever affects residents, Dr. William Howland says. Austin’s Mountain Cedar tree is said to be the highest pollen-producing plant in the world, with allergy season for this plant beginning around December of each year and sending many Austin residents to experts like Dr. William Howland for treatment.

Upon first visiting Dr. William Howland’s offices, a new patient may be tested to determine his or her specific sensitivities. Dr. William Howland performs skin tests with a variety of local allergens, with reactions usually taking place within fifteen minutes. Once testing is complete, the patients meets with Dr. William Howland to discuss results and treatment plans.

When you meet with Dr. William Howland, you can feel confident that you are in capable hands. A magna cum laude graduate from the University of Texas, Dr. William Howland obtained his MD from the medical branch of the University of Texas at Galveston. Board certified with the American Board of Allergy and Immunology, Dr. William Howland practiced in South Carolina and Florida before returning to his hometown of Austin.

A respected author and speaker, Dr. William Howland’s writing has been featured in many medical journals. His regular segment on allergies, shown on the local ABC affiliate KUVE’s newscast, covers such topics as how allergies affect a student’s school performance and allergens in your own garden.

In his spare time, Dr. William Howland plays in a cover rock band, Code Blue. The band performs hits from the 60s, 70s, and 80s, covering the best rock songs of all time.  Dr. William Howland is bassist for the band, as well as singing lead and backup. He co-founded the band with Austin fireman Joe Augeri and they’ve played weddings, parties, and other events at venues in Austin, Dallas, and San Diego for the past fifteen years. Dr. Howland also helps with lighting and sound for the band.

Dr. William Howland lives in Austin with his wife and two children.

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