Cedar Fever Is Coming To Town

Comments Off Written on October 10th, 2014 by
Categories: Allergies, Allergist, Allergy Advice, Allergy Shots, Pollen in Arizona
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“Cedar Fever” is a term given to allergies associated with cypress and juniper tree pollen. The scientific family name for these trees is “cypressaceae”. Although these allergies are typically thought of affecting people in Austin Texas and Santa Fe New Mexico, many people are affected each winter in Arizona as well. The common symptoms of Cedar Fever include: sneezing, nasal congestion, runny nose, throat drainage, and itchy, red, watering eyes. Other symptoms, which are easily overlooked, are achiness, fatigue and low grade fevers, hence the name “cedar fever”. Oftentimes these symptoms are attributed to the common flu. Allergies to this type of tree pollen can also trigger asthma.

 

In Arizona there are many trees which are “anemophilous” or wind born pollinators. The dry warm climate and wind allow these trees to reproduce. Juniper and cypress trees are evergreen trees and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They can be short or tall and resemble a bush more than a tree.  The easiest way to distinguish between cypress and juniper trees is to look at their cones.  The cypress trees have large round cones, while the juniper tree has “juniper berries”. These trees are not as prevalent down here in the valley; however, as you travel further north, higher altitudes support the growth of pine trees and juniper trees, also referred to as Pinyon-Juniper Woodland. These plants produce pollen that can be carried 40,000 feet up into the atmosphere and can be transferred fifty miles from the source.  Typically the valley’s highest pollination season is in winter, or early December through February.

 

In summary, if each winter you feel like you have recurrent sinus infections, a cold, lasting flu, or asthma, your symptoms may just be from the native plants of Arizona.   The next time you hear residents of Texas and New Mexico complaining of “cedar fever”, let them know that they are not the only ones who can lay claim to the allergies associated with Cedar Fever.

 

Allergy Shots or Drops: Besides the Obvious, is there a Difference?

Comments Off Written on October 1st, 2014 by
Categories: Allergies, Allergist, Allergy Advice, Allergy Articles, Allergy Shots

What are the treatment options for documented allergic disease?  If you do not know what the facts are, the answers can be very confusing.  When treating hay fever or allergic rhinitis, asthma and sometimes eczema, there are three main categories of treatment options.  First, one should always try and avoid any offending allergy triggers.  Second, there are a variety of medications that may be effective.  Lastly, allergen immunotherapy, also known as allergy shots, can be instituted if the first two options are ineffective.  So where does allergy drops fit in, if at all?

 

Allergy drops, or more properly known as sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT), are a form of allergen immunotherapy developed in Europe.  The purpose of sublingual immunotherapy is the same as traditional subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT) or allergy shots.  Subcutaneous immunotherapy works by readjusting or rebalancing the immune system so that it stops reacting to allergy triggers.

 

When someone is allergic his or her immune system has made an allergic antibody to a pollen, dander or mold.  This antibody, when exposed to the allergen, starts a reaction that ends with the symptoms of hay fever or asthma, such as runny nose, nasal congestion, and watery itchy eyes, coughing or wheezing.  This is actually an over-active immune system.  Therefore the goal of subcutaneous immunotherapy is to calm down this over-active immune response.  For allergy shots to work, the patient needs to be allergic to substances that are appropriate for allergen immunotherapy.  The allergy shot serum should include the allergens the patient is allergic to and not include the ones that they are not reactive to.  This means the serum should be customized to each patient.  Also, the serum must be mixed correctly in that certain allergens cannot be put together in the same serum as they degrade each other.  This process takes time but is the best long-term solution to control allergies.

 

Sublingual immunotherapy has the same biological effects as subcutaneous immunotherapy.  This was refined in Europe and has shown excellent benefit when used in the appropriate patient.  Sublingual immunotherapy works best in those individuals that are not allergic to a lot of different allergens.  Currently there are no FDA approved sublingual extracts or serum in the United States. This also means that insurance companies will not cover sublingual immunotherapy. Studies to obtain FDA approval are ongoing.  When FDA approval is obtained, sublingual immunotherapy will be an appropriate treatment option for the control of allergic rhinitis or hay fever and asthma.

 

So what is the problem?  Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation about sublingual immunotherapy.  Many practitioners advertise drops as being safe with no potential for systemic or severe reactions like can be seen with subcutaneous immunotherapy.  This is not true.  Systemic reactions can occur with sublingual treatment therefore care must be taken when sublingual immunotherapy is started and advanced. Local reactions in the mouth, throat and stomach also occur. Sublingual immunotherapy, when it obtains FDA approval, needs to be performed under proper supervision by a physician specifically trained in allergy and immunology.  Also, like subcutaneous immunotherapy, sublingual extracts should be customized for the patient.  There is no one drop fits all.

 

When sublingual immunotherapy receives FDA approval, it will be an added treatment option for patients with allergic rhinitis or asthma.  If avoidance measures and medications do not adequately control symptoms and the patient is only allergic to a few allergens, then sublingual immunotherapy may be the next step in treatment.  In patients who fail to respond to sublingual immunotherapy or who react to a multitude of allergens, then traditional subcutaneous immunotherapy would be the best option.  Until that point, make sure your treatment program is appropriate and backed by scientific study.

 

 

Do I have a Cold or might it be Allergies?

The fall season is here and along with that comes a common comment heard in our office….. “I don’t know if I have a cold or allergies but I feel miserable.” The symptoms of colds and allergies often overlap and have a similar presentation. This article is going to look at some of the differences between these two very common conditions.

TIME OF YEAR: A cold is a viral infection, which is caused by one of many rhinoviruses that affect the nose. Although it is possible to “catch” a cold at any time, cold viruses are more common during the winter months. By contrast, an allergic reaction is an immune response to a harmless substance and is most prominent during the spring and fall months when pollen counts from trees, grasses, and weeds are at their highest.

SYMPTOM ONSET: One of the early differences between colds and allergies is how rapidly symptoms occur. Cold symptoms generally have a gradual onset over a period of several days. A cold may begin with a general sense of fatigue, sore throat, or runny nose and over time progresses to severe nasal congestion, headache, and perhaps even fever and body aches.  The symptoms of allergies have an abrupt onset (when exposure to the allergen occurs) with one of the first and most common symptoms being sneezing…..often multiple times in a row.

DURATION OF SYMPTOMS: Cold symptoms persist for anywhere from 5-10 days and then gradually improve.  Allergy symptoms may last for months or as long as you are exposed to the allergy trigger.  If you are symptomatic greater than 10 days, you will want to consider the possibility of your symptoms being of an allergic nature.  Remember, a person can develop allergies at ANY time in their life, so just because you don’t have a history of allergies in the past, doesn’t mean you don’t have them now!

SYMPTOMS: How many times have you been asked in a health care setting, “what color are your nasal secretions” (Interesting question huh?!) This is an important clue to determine the cause of your symptoms. Both conditions may cause a runny nose or nasal congestion but nasal secretions will be consistently clear and watery when you are experiencing allergies. A cold virus may begin with clear nasal secretions but over 3-4 days the mucous becomes yellow/green and opaque as the illness develops. Another important difference is that itching of the eyes, nose, throat, or ears are uncommon with a cold but are very common allergy symptoms. If you have a fever or feel achy, chances are you have a cold and not allergies. It is important to remember that with either allergies or a cold, continued nasal discharge that becomes thick, brown, dark yellow, or green might indicate a sinus infection and may require the use of an antibiotic.

While a cold is a condition that just requires a bit of time to clear up, allergies do necessitate treatment.  If you are experiencing allergic symptoms which are persistent in nature, seek the advise of an allergist so that appropriate testing and treatment can be initiated. At Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology, our clinicians and staff are committed to improving your health and your quality of life. We look forward to hearing from you!

 

Eosinophilic Esophagitis, what is it?

Lately the media has been paying more attention to food allergies, and for good reason.  Food allergies are increasing in America, and we are not sure why.  One such food allergy issue is eosinophilic esophagitis.  This is a medical condition that occurs when the esophagus becomes inflamed with eosinophils, which are white blood cells associated with allergies.  The inflammatory reaction is most often diagnosed by obtaining a biopsy of the esophagus during a procedure called an esophagogastroduodenoscopy, also known as an endoscopy.  If the inflammatory reaction occurs repeatedly, over time people may experience esophageal spasms, weakening of the LES (lower esophageal sphincter) and possibly structural changes of the esophagus itself.  There are a variety of symptoms that someone may experience with eosinophilic esophagitis, the most common symptoms are explained below.

One symptom is difficulty swallowing.  When the esophagus becomes chronically inflamed it can even spasm and cause food to become lodged or impacted.  This is a quite painful reaction, which may result in the individual regurgitating water and saliva.  Often these symptoms are quite alarming and patients will seek immediate medical treatment in the emergency room.  Fortunately, the symptoms resolve once the food has passed or after it is removed via endoscopy.  Foods that typically become impacted are items that are thick in consistency, such as meat, or items that swell with the introduction of fluid, such as bread or rice.

Other symptoms may occur due to the regurgitation of stomach acid, which result from the LES not working properly.  The LES is a muscle that prevents acid from leaving the stomach and entering the esophagus.  The LES is the reason we can stand on our head and food won’t rush out.  In infants the LES does not work as well as it does in adults.  This is why infants tend to “spit up” after eating.  Inflammation from eosinophilic esophagitis interferes with the LES and allows stomach acids to wash up into the esophagus.  This acid causes burning pain, chest discomfort, regurgitation of food and various other symptoms.

If eosinophilic esophagitis becomes a chronic problem, structural changes of the esophagus may occur.  The most common structural changes are the formation of esophageal rings or strictures.  These rings in the esophagus cause food to  “catch”, and swallowing can be obstructed.   If the strictures become severe, a gastroenterologist will perform a procedure called “dilation”.  The purpose of this procedure is to break or stretch the rings or adhesions and prevent food from becoming obstructed in the esophagus.

In closing, eosinophilic esophagitis can cause a myriad of symptoms and is still under diagnosed.  Food allergies quite often play a major role in eosinophilic esophagitis, and there are ways to test for food allergies with a board certified allergist.  This can include skin testing and blood testing.  If you are experiencing some of these symptoms, talk to your physician or seek an allergist or gastroenterologist who are familiar with this condition and are willing to work as a team with you.

 

Valley Fever: What In The Haboob Am I Talking About?

Comments Off Written on July 22nd, 2014 by
Categories: Allergies, Allergy Advice, Allergy Articles, Asthma, Asthma Articles, Valley Fever

Who can forget the Great Haboob on July 5, 2011? Beyond all the mess that was left behind to clean up, what else did that big dust cloud give us?  It gave the car wash industry a tremendous boost.   The Haboob has also blown in concerns over an upsurge in cases of Valley Fever.  What exactly is Valley Fever and what does the Haboob have to do with it?

Valley Fever is the common name for Coccidioidomycosis, an infection caused by fungi known as Coccidioides.  This fungus is found in the soil in certain lower deserts of the desert southwest including southern Arizona, south and central California, southwestern New Mexico and west Texas.  It can also be found in parts of Mexico and Central and South America.  The name Valley Fever is actually the shortened older name for Coccidioidomycosis, which was San Joaquin Valley Fever.  The association between the disease and the causative agent was made in the San Joaquin Valley in California.

Now what does a dust storm have to do with Valley Fever?  As I mentioned above, Valley Fever is caused by a fungus, or mold, that lives in the ground or soil here in the Valley of the Sun. Coccidioides grows as a mold a few inches below the surface of the desert soil.  During dry conditions the mold becomes fragile. Even slight air disturbances can fracture the mold into single-cell spores that are 3-5 microns in size and can stay suspended in the air for prolonged periods of time. The spores become suspended in air during times of digging such as landscaping, construction of homes and with big dust storms. Humans, and animals such as dogs, may contract the fungus by breathing when the fungal spores are suspended in the air. Once the spores get into the lungs, they change shape and enlarge sometimes as big as 70 microns or more in diameter.  They continue to grow and eventually lead to the clinical infection known as Valley Fever.  Once the spore fragments are in the lungs and change shape, they cannot be spread from person to person.  Therefore, this is not a contagious disease. This disease can occur after inhaling just one of the single cells.  We are expecting to see a dramatic increase in the number of Valley Fever cases following the Haboob-an intense dust storm that surely suspended millions and millions of Coccidioide spores for a prolonged period of time.

The risk of exposure in the endemic areas varies but is highest during dry periods that follow rainy seasons.  In Arizona these periods tend to be from May thru July and then again from October to early December.  It is estimated that 60 percent of the coccidioidal infections in the US occur in Arizona in the counties of Maricopa, Pima and Pinal.

With all this ominous news, how does one know if they have Valley Fever?  Well, the incubation period is typically between 7 and 21 days, meaning clinical disease is apparent 7 to 21 days after exposure.  Thinking back to our recent Haboob, individuals would start experiencing symptoms around July 12th to July 26th.  But symptoms may remain subclinical for weeks or even months.  Many times individuals never even realize they had Valley Fever due to the mild nature of their illness.

Valley Fever typically presents as community-acquired pneumonia with chest pain, fever, difficulty breathing and cough.  However, one may have only a day or two of mild coughing or cold-like symptoms with muscle aches and joint pains.  Two types of rashes can occur, Erythema nodosum and Erythema multiforme.  A common symptom is fatigue that can last for months.  The arthralgias, or joint pains, have lead to an alternate name for Valley Fever, “desert rheumatism.”  Although most patients have a mild form of the disease the does not require treatment, Valley Fever can be very severe and life-threatening; especially in immunocompromised individuals such as those with AIDS, transplant patients, diabetics, pregnant women, cancer patients on chemotherapy, and patients using high-dose prednisone.

The first step in making the diagnosis of Valley Fever is remembering to consider the possibility that Valley Fever might be present. Physicians and patients need to consider the symptoms that are present and if they follow possible exposure to conditions conducive to contracting the spores. Laboratory findings may be unremarkable but an elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate, an elevated eosinophil count (part of a complete blood count or CBC) and chest x-ray abnormalities are helpful in making the diagnosis.  Serologic testing is available the measures antibody production against the mold.  This testing can also be used to monitor disease activity and duration.

If you suspect that you may have Valley Fever, and not everyone will have it, please contact your physician or you can call our office for more information.  Stay well and remember, there is a fungus among us.

 

Have you heard about the New Test for Asthma?

Exhaled nitric oxide (eNO) is a new test you may he asked to complete in your clinician’s office if you have symptoms of asthma. This test is receiving wide spread attention from pulmonary and allergy specialists because it offers an easy and noninvasive means to directly monitor airway inflammation. Why is it important to be aware of the level of inflammation in your airways? It is well known that asthma is a disease of chronic inflammation, which causes airway constriction, excessive mucous production, and bronchospasm. Generally speaking, the higher the level of inflammation, the greater are one’s asthma symptoms. One of the causes of this inflammation is the presence of white blood cells called eosinophils in the lungs. The eosinophils are believed to release inflammatory mediators that contribute to inflammation and the resultant symptoms of asthma.

exhaled nitric oxide asthma testNitric oxide is a gas that is produced naturally in the airways and is detectable in the exhaled breath. Research has discovered that eNO levels significantly increase when airway inflammation is present. It is now possible to measure this gas in order to aid in the diagnosis and management of asthma as well as other lung diseases. Levels will be high in untreated or poorly managed asthma and will lower when asthma therapy is initiated and asthma is controlled. Therefore, the results of the test can help to determine how well inhaled anti-inflammatory medications (such as steroid inhalers) are working and can provide further guidance regarding when to increase or decrease medication dosages. This will be helpful in determining patients minimal effective dose of medicine.

Additionally, this valuable tool will be useful in distinguishing asthma from other diseases not associated with nitric oxide elevation such as vocal cord dysfunction, gastroesophageal reflux disease, pulmonary embolism, and acute respiratory illness. This test will assist the clinician in determining the severity of asthma as well as offering insight into patients’ compliance in use of medications. While asthma symptoms may he intermittent, the inflammation of asthma is persistent. Exhaled nitric oxide testing can serve as a marker providing objective evidence of ongoing disease activity even in the absence of symptoms.

Another great benefit of eNO testing is its usefulness with young children who are not always able to understand and follow directions with other methods of pulmonary function testing. The test requires no preparation, is very easy to complete (taking only a few minutes), and is non-threatening for both children and adults. Patients are provided a sterile mouthpiece
that is connected to the eNO device. They will be asked to breathe in slowly followed by a slow, steady exhalation. A computer screen will assist in prompting patients regarding when to take a deep breath and when to exhale. That’s all there is to it!

A patient’s personal history continues to he the most reliable tool in diagnosing and evaluating asthma; however the addition of exhaled nitric oxide testing can augment disease management when used in combination with other conventional diagnostic options (such as pulmonary function testing). Being able to evaluate the level of airway inflammation in asthma
can now more accurately assess treatment responses and ultimately improve quality of life. Allergy, Asthma and Immunology is pleased to have the capability of measuring exhaled nitric oxide in our offices. As health care providers, we are excited when new methods of managing asthma and IMPROVING YOUR HEALTH are available.

Please check our website at AllergyAsthmaAz.com or call the office at 480-614-8011 for more information.

 


Vitamin D and Allergies and Asthma

Comments Off Written on June 8th, 2011 by
Categories: Allergy Advice
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Vitamin D seems to be all the rage these days. You can hear about it around the water cooler at work, in your physician’s office, and store shelves seem to be brimming with vitamin D supplements. Currently, there are several studies that suggest vitamin D may play a role in allergies and asthma, but definitive results are pending.

Research has revealed vitamin D’s role with calcium, and how it affects our bones and parathyroid glands. Vitamin D is important for the absorption of calcium by the intestinal tract. It prevents problems with our bones, such as osteomalacia in adults and Ricket’s disease in young children. This supplement also prevents abnormal function of the parathyroid glands. Finally, we know that vitamin D plays a role in our immune system; however, the specific role is still unclear.

Augusto A. Litonjua M.D. has proposed vitamin D may also protect patients from getting asthma and allergies. Dr, Litonjua’s proposal has inspired others to further research the correlation between vitamin D and allergies and asthma. One such study headed by John Brehm M.D. was CAMP, Childhood Asthma Management Program. CAMP studied over a thousand children with asthma from diverse backgrounds and various locations within the United States. Dr, Brehm reviewed vitamin D levels in the children’s blood. His research revealed that patients with low levels of vitamin D have more severe asthma and more frequent emergency room visits than those with higher levels of vitamin D in their blood. Other studies are finding vitamin D receptors in cells that are associated with the immune system. This is important because asthma and allergies are caused by an overactive immune system.

In summary vitamin D is important for calcium absorption, bone strength and parathyroid gland function. The medical community is interested in learning more about vitamin D’s possible correlation with allergies and asthma. Vitamin D can be naturally produced when our skin is exposed to sunlight. It may also be obtained through our diet. Currently, the recommended daily dose is 400 I.U.’s of vitamin D. Vitamin D can be found in foods high in fat, such as fish, egg yolks. and liver. People can increase their daily dose by eating foods fortified with vitamin D, such as milk and cheese. If you have questions regarding the role of vitamin D and your health, please ask your health care provider.

 

 

 

Take Two Asprin and Call Me in the Morning… UNLESS YOU ARE ALLERGIC TO IT

Comments Off Written on May 15th, 2011 by
Categories: Allergies, Allergy Advice, Allergy Articles
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We all know someone who is “allergic” to a medication. Many times that person is not having a
true allergic reaction but either a side effect to the drug or just an adverse reaction. This is also the
case with aspirin or the related non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAlDS) such as ibuprofen
or naproxyn.

There is a special group of individuals that have a unique reaction to aspirin and the NSAlDS. These are a subset of asthmatics. Twenty percent of asthmatics are sensitive to aspirin and NSAIDS. This group of asthmatics have what is called Aspirin Exacerbated Respiratory Disease (AERD). It was originally known as Samter’s Syndrome or Triad Asthma. AERD is a combination of asthma, chronic sinusitis. nasal polyps and then a reaction to aspirin or an NSAlD, This reaction is not a true allergic reaction but an exaggerated response of the body to the biological effect of aspirin or all NSAIDS. This reaction is characterized by watery itchy eyes. runny nose. nasal congestion, sinus-like headache and a severe exacerbation of asthma. An aspirin reaction occurs between twenty minutes and three hours after ingesting the aspirin or NSAlD.

Aspirin-sensitive asthma or AERD occurs in approximately 20 percent of asthmatics. It signifies an aggressive form of inflammatory airways disease mediated by inflammatory chemicals called leukotrienes. Avoiding aspirin or any of the NSAIOS actually does not help the disease. Unfortunately there are many asthmatics avoiding these drugs simply because they have asthma and there is the misconception that all asthmatics may be sensitive to aspirin. By unnecessarily avoiding aspirin or NSAIDS. these patients do not have appropriate medications for pain control, arthritis, and fever reduction or cardio prophylaxis utilizing low dose aspirin.

So, if I am an asthmatic, how can I tell if I have this type of asthma?

Well, it is not as hard as you may think. We first look at the patient’s medical history, The patient must have asthma, chronic sinusitis and nasal polyps. Typically patients describe the onset of their disease as a “cold that never, went away.” Then there must be a history of reacting to aspirin or any of the NSAIDS if all these events are present, it then requires an oral challenge to aspirin to prove if the patient is truly aspirin sensitive. These challenges were formalized at Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation in La Jolla. California, Initially the challenge required a week long hospitalization, The Allergy department at Scripps Clinic has refined the process for the outpatient setting. The safety of the aspirin challenge has also been improved with the development of anti leukotriene medications. After undergoing an aspirin challenge. the patient can be desensitized and take aspirin or an NSAID for an appropriate medical condition. The patient can also be desensitized and take aspirin daily to actually help treat the asthma and sinus disease.

With all this information. who should think about undergoing an aspirin challenge? Asthmatic patients with the appropriate history who need to take aspirin every day for cardiac reasons or those patients that need an anti-inflammatory medication for arthritis or similar condition, Also. those asthmatics with poorly controlled asthma or who have required multiple sinus surgeries to control the sinus disease or polyp formation are excellent candidates for aspirin desensitization.

Having trained at Scripps Clinic. I have been involved in many aspirin challenges and desensitizations, The process of aspirin desensitization is safe under the appropriate supervision and now available in the outpatient setting. Most desensitizations take a minimum of two days to complete.

If you think you or a loved one may be a candidate for this procedure. please feel free to contact our office at 480-949-7377. We would be happy to talk with you to help determine if aspirin desensitization on may be right for you.

 

Avoiding Allergy Triggers

Now that spring has arrived, we are all enjoying the warmer temperatures of the season and spending more time outdoors. With that comes higher pollen counts and an increase in allergic symptoms. Allergic disease affects 50 million Americans and is the 5th most common chronic condition in the United States. Allergic disease can develop at any age and is frequently an inherited trait. If one parent has allergies, the risk of the child developing allergies is 48%, and if both parents have allergies, the risk grows to 70%.

Symptoms of allergic disease are the result of events occurring in the immune system (the body’s defense mechanism against harmful substances). In an allergic individual. the body recognizes allergens (i.e. pollens, pet dander, mold spores, dust mites) as harmful substances and subsequently a cascade of events ensues in an attempt to remove the offending allergen from the body’s tissues and bloodstream. Chemicals such as histamines. are released from special cells in the body producing the classic symptoms of allergic rhinitis (“hay fever”) such as nasal itching, sneezing, nasal congestion, runny nose, and itching or tearing of the eyes. Other conditions associated with allergies include asthma and eczema.

In Arizona, allergies cause severe and prolonged symptoms due to the extended growing seasons. The spring and fall months are typically the seasons when pollen counts are highest and symptoms are most severe. Some of the biggest allergens during this time of year include olive, ash, and mulberry trees, bermuda grass and ragweed. Citrus trees are blamed for symptoms but typically are not a problem as pollination occurs through the “birds and the bees”.

 

One of the biggest things an allergic individual can do is to avoid offending triggers.


POLLEN: To avoid pollen exposure, keep doors and windows closed and run air conditioning, which cleans, cools and dries the air.

Change air conditioning and furnace filters regularly. Avoid sleeping with bedroom windows open and keep car windows closed. Pollens can become trapped in hair and clothes, so remember that taking a quick shower and changing clothes after being outdoors can be beneficial. Recognize as well that pets trap pollen in their fur after being outdoors so washing your hands after interacting with pets and avoiding touching your eyes is important. Avoid yard work if possible and wear a mask when cutting grass. Air purification systems (such as a HEPA filter) can offer benefit as well. These are best kept in the bedroom as most people spend more hours of the day in the bedroom than any other space in their home. Pollen counts are highest in the late afternoon, so avoid outdoor activities during this time of the day.

 

PETS: There are no “non·allergenic” cats or dogs. Ideally if a person is allergic to pets, the animals should be eliminated from the home or kept outdoors. If this is not possible, keep pets out of the bedroom and bathe them on a weekly basis to reduce the dander in the home.

 

DUST MITES: While less of a problem in Arizona due to low humidity. dust mites can be avoided by purchasing special encasements for pillows and mattresses. These can be purchased from on-line allergy supply stores. Bedding should be washed on a weekly basis using hot water rather than warm or cold water. If practical, replace carpets with linoleum, hard wood floors, or tile. Keep the number of pillows and stuffed animals to a minimum.

 

MOLDS: Molds can be found both inside and outside of the home. Promptly repair any leaks or water damage within the home. Indoor molds are frequently found in the bathroom, basement or other damp areas. Do not use carpet in these areas and watch for mold growth so it can be cleaned promptly. Use an exhaust fan or open windows to remove moisture after showers. Mold can also be found in the soil and on the leaves of houseplants as well as in damp compost piles, therefore wear a mask while raking leaves and keep indoor plants to a minimum.

 

If avoiding the offending trigger does not manage symptoms, one should seek the advice of an allergist to obtain an accurnle diagnosis, a treatment plan that works, and educational information to help manage symptoms. The allergy specialist may complete skin testing (if appropriate) and discuss treatment options, including the use of medications, such as nasal sprays, antihistamines, or decongestants. Allergy shots, also called “immunotherapy”, are an option and are given to increase ones tolerance to the allergens that provoke symptoms. Be ready for the spring season this year. Remember, the right care can make the difference between suffering with an allergic disease and feeling better.

 

 

Tips For Reducing Springtime Allergy Symptoms

Comments Off Written on March 18th, 2011 by
Categories: Allergy Articles, Spring Time Allergies
Tags: ,

Allergists from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) have some tips for reducing allergy symptoms this spring. I thought they were excellent and worth sharing… Enjoy!

Do:

1. Wear glasses or sunglasses when outdoors. Covering  your eyes keeps pollen and other irritants away from this sensitive area, which reduces itchiness and redness.

2. Shower and wash your hair before bed.  Cleaning up before getting into bed helps remove pollen from your hair and skin, which reduces irritation. You should also consider keeping pets out of the bedroom if they’ve been outside, as pollen can cling to their fur.

3. Minimize activities outdoors when pollen counts are at their peak. Pollen is typically at its highest point during midday and afternoon hours, so those who suffer with allergies and asthma should avoid going outside during those times of day.

4. Run the air conditioner at home. Leaving doors and windows open is a good way to invite allergens and other irritants inside your home, so there’s no escape.

5. Keep air conditioning and furnace filters fresh. It’s important to change filters every three months and use filters with a MERV rating of 8 to 12.  A MERV rating tells you how well the filter can remove pollen and mold from the air as it passes through.

Don’t:

1. Treat symptoms without knowing what you’re allergic to. You may think you know what’s causing your allergy symptoms, but more than two-thirds of spring allergy sufferers actually have year-round allergies. An allergist, a doctor who is an expert in treating allergies and asthma, can perform tests to pinpoint the cause of your suffering and then find the right treatment to stop it.

2. Spend blindly on over-the-counter medications. There are tons of allergy medications available at the store, some of which can be very effective. But if you’re buying new products all the time, spending a bundle and not feeling better, consult with an allergist who can discuss which options might be best for you. Your allergist may suggest nasal spray or allergy shots, also called immunotherapy. Immunotherapy can actually cure your allergies and keep you out of the drug store aisles for good.

3. Wait too long to take allergy meds. Don’t wait until symptoms kick in and you’re already feeling bad to take allergy medication. Instead, prepare by taking medication that has worked for you in the past just before the season starts. Pay attention to the weather: When winter weather turns warm, pollens and molds are released into the air. Start treatment prior to the warm up.

4. Hang clothing or laundry outside. On a clothesline, fabric can collect pollen, which is an allergy trigger. Instead, use a drying machine to reduce these allergens.

5. Eat produce and other foods that might aggravate sniffles and sneezing. If your mouth, lips and throat get itchy and you sniffle and sneeze after eating certain raw or fresh fruits or other foods, you may have “oral allergy syndrome.” The condition, which affects about one third of seasonal allergy sufferers, occurs in people who are already allergic to pollen when their immune system sees a similarity between the proteins of pollen and those of the food, and triggers a reaction. If you are allergic to tree pollen, for example, foods like apples, cherries, pears, apricots, kiwis, oranges, plums, almonds, hazelnut and walnuts may bother you. Cooking or peeling the food may help, but you should talk to an allergist.