Archive for March, 2011

Tips For Reducing Springtime Allergy Symptoms

Comments Off on Tips For Reducing Springtime Allergy Symptoms 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.

 

 

 

Hives!

Comments Off on Hives! Written on March 1st, 2011 by
Categories: Allergy Advice, Allergy Articles, Hives

Hives are a very common condition that our clinic sees on a daily basis; up to 20 percent of the population will have hives at one time or another in their lifetime.  Hives have been around a long time, documented as far back as early Egypt on papyrus.  Hives, (sometimes called welts) are known by their Latin name “urticaria”.  Hives appear as itchy red raised bumps which resemble mosquito bites, but hives may also have clear centers and look like irregular rings.   The itching from hives can cause so much discomfort individuals may not be able to sleep at night or have difficulty in concentrating.  In addition to itching, hives may also feel warm or burn.  In certain situations, hives will come and go as they please with little rhyme or reason.  Hives may also form in the deep tissues and cause a dramatic swelling of the body called “angioedema”.  Typical locations of angioedema include the lips, eyes, tongue, fingers, toes and even genital areas.

 

Hives and angioedema can arise spontaneously, and may occur with obvious triggers.  Obvious triggers include touching an allergen (something we are allergic to) causing hives.  Contact with grass, cat or dog dander/saliva and even certain foods are examples of such a “contact urticaria” reaction.  Medications may cause hives if an individual is, or becomes allergic to the medication (for example penicillin, aspirin and ibuprofen).  Virus infections, valley fever and a several other infections may also cause hives.  Physical stimuli such as cold temperatures, pressure, scratching, sunlight, stress and very rarely water can also bring forth hives in susceptible individuals.

 

Hives are a component of other allergic reactions.  People who have contact sensitivity to different chemicals, lotions, fragrances or detergents will break out in a rash that may also trigger hives.  If an individual with severe allergies to a food will have an immediate and dramatic reaction, this reaction may include hives among other symptoms.

 

There are two categories of hives, chronic and acute.  Chronic hives last at least six weeks and acute will resolve in less than six weeks.  Chronic hives may last for years, possibly decades causing people to be frustrated and interfere with quality of life.  Research now reveals this chronic condition is due to an autoimmune process known as “chronic autoimmune urticaria.”  This diagnosis is made through a blood test that is available today.

 

An experienced allergist will obtain a thorough history and physical and order the necessary labs.  Treatment(s) for chronic hives may include anti-histamines, steroids, and avoidance measures.  Preliminary studies have shown a common asthma treatment may resolve hives and minimize side effects of other treatments.  Our practice, associated with Medical Research of Arizona, is currently studying this promising new treatment for hives.  If you are having trouble with hives, consult one of our board certified allergist and sleep well at night.