Tiny Nasal Filter Claims To Help Allergy Sufferers

You know the saying, “wake up and smell the roses.” Well, for a lot of my patients, smelling roses or for that matter, any flowers, trees or grasses at this time of year may give them a severe allergic response. So when a walk in the park is no walk in the park, what can an allergy sufferer do?

Well a new device that you wear in your nose–about the size of a contact lens and works like a miniature air filter for a furnace–might make life easier for some of the estimated 500 million people worldwide who suffer from itching, sneezing and a runny nose as soon as the pollen season starts.

Known under the brand name, Rhinix, the filter is supposed to be on market this spring and claims significant reduction in spring allergy symptoms.

The filter was developed from the results of a study by a medical team from Aarhus University in Denmark; the results were published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

The Journal states that “the research group included 24 people with a known allergy to grass pollen. They were exposed to a amount of grass pollen for 30 minutes at a time until they had 210 minutes of exposure. One time they wore the device without the filtering membrane ( a placebo used for comparison). Another time they wore the device with the filtering membrane.”

The filtering membrane “helped reduce nasal symptoms by 21 percent. Daily itching was decreased by 36 percent, daily runny nose dropped by 12 percent, daily sneezing reduced by 45 percent and throat irritation was reduced by 75 percent.”

The lead author of the study, Peter Kenney said that the filter is disposable and is only meant for daily use. He said “some people will probably use it the entire day whereas others might just use them when they are in an exposed environment (such as a park).”

Since the filters are held together by a small plastic ring, there have been comments that for some, it may prove uncomfortable or not cosmetically pleasing.

Also commenting on the Journal’s study was Dr. Mark Glaum, vice chair of the rhinitis, rhinosinusitis and ocular allergy committee of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, who expressed reservations on the study saying, “the changes in the individual’s symptoms weren’t huge, but for people with just nasal symptoms, it might help to a degree.” He also expressed the hope that a larger study on a group of people be conducted to see if they had the same results.

To learn more, visit http://www.nycallergydoctor.com/allergy

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Measles Outbreak Reported In NYC

Parents are very concerned about the health of their children–what they eat, are they getting enough exercise, etc. A lot of my patients who are parents remind me of my mother who still lives in Brooklyn. Even now, at 93, my mother still comments on my weight. Well, that’s mothers for you.

Yet some parents are very lax in getting their children vaccinated against childhood diseases such as mumps and measles. They figure that those diseases are a thing of the past, that they don’t exist anymore. Well I’ve got news for them. Those childhood illnesses are making a comeback.

Just a few weeks ago, the Health Department of the City of New York reported an outbreak of measles in the city. The initial cases started in the Bronx and spread to the Lower East Side. The 25 cases reported then included 12 children and 13 adults. Today it is 28 cases.

The Health Department defines “measles as a virus that is highly contagious whose symptoms included a generalized rash and high fever, accompanied by a cough, red eyes, and runny nose, lasting five to six days. The rash begins on the face and spreads down the body, and may include the palms of the hands and soles of their feet.”

Most of the New York cases of the measles occurred after individuals or immigrants visited countries that had measles outbreaks. Other cases occurred by random exposure to sick individuals. So it is important when traveling abroad to pay attention to US Consular health advisories concerning foreign travel.

I cannot say enough that the vaccines are very safe and that any side effects are minimal and may include soreness where the shot was given.

Those who should be inoculated are babies at 12 months of age. Two doses are measles vaccine are required for full protection. Children usually get the second dose at 4 to 6 years of age before going to school. Also older children and adults should get the vaccine if not already done so. It’s never too late to be vaccinated.

 

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Colds During Pregnancy Linked To Childhood Asthma

Pregnant mothers often ask me, “Dr. Lubitz, is there a way I can insure the health of my baby during pregnancy?” I try to reassure them and say the following: “stay away from anyone who has a cold.”

I came across an interesting study conducted in Munich, Germany, reported by the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. The journal said that 526 German children from birth to their fifth year of age and their parents during pregnancy were examined and researchers measured potential allergens in each child’s home.

They found, according to the report that “rhinoviruses can influence asthma even before the child leaves the womb. So coughs and sniffles during pregnancy might translate into a future asthma diagnosis for your child, the study suggests.” Also, of the families studied, 61 percent had a parent with asthma, hay fever of atopic dermatitus.

Says Michael Foggs, MD, ACAAI (American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology) president “we know that allergy and asthma can develop in the womb since genetics play a factor in both diseases. But this (German) study sheds light about how a mother’s environment during pregnancy can begin affecting the child before birth.”

According to the ACAAI website, asthma affects approximately 8 percent of women in their childbearing years. It was found that when women with asthma become pregnant, one-third of the patients improve, one-third worsen and one-third remain unchanged.

A board-certified allergist can help expectant mothers suffering from asthma and allergies with treatment options and eliminate symptom triggers.
Pregnant mothers often ask me, “Dr. Lubitz, is there a way I can insure the health of my baby during pregnancy?” I try to reassure them and say the following: “stay away from anyone who has a cold.”

I came across an interesting study conducted in Munich, Germany, reported by the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. The journal said that 526 German children from birth to their fifth year of age and their parents during pregnancy were examined and researchers measured potential allergens in each child’s home.

They found, according to the report that “rhinoviruses can influence asthma even before the child leaves the womb. So coughs and sniffles during pregnancy might translate into a future asthma diagnosis for your child, the study suggests.” Also, of the families studied, 61 percent had a parent with asthma, hay fever of atopic dermatitus.

Says Michael Foggs, MD, ACAAI (American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology) president “we know that allergy and asthma can develop in the womb since genetics play a factor in both diseases. But this (German) study sheds light about how a mother’s environment during pregnancy can begin affecting the child before birth.”

According to the ACAAI website, asthma affects approximately 8 percent of women in their childbearing years. It was found that when women with asthma become pregnant, one-third of the patients improve, one-third worsen and one-third remain unchanged.

A board-certified allergist can help expectant mothers suffering from asthma and allergies with treatment options and eliminate symptom triggers.

To learn more:

http://www.nycallergydoctor.com/asthma#allergy

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Hives And Itching–The Psychogenic Factor

Not long ago, a young woman walked into my office with hives. She looked stressed. So I asked her about the hives and she said she didn’t know how they started. I then asked her to tell me about herself, and her job. She asked me why I was inquiring about these aspects of her life. I said to her “I need to know what I need to know. I need to know to better treat you.” She was reluctant, but then told me a lot about herself.

The patient lived on the Upper West Side and worked in a high-stressed business. She hated her job because of the pressure but said she took this job because she wanted the best private schools for her children and that she needed a lot of money. But it appeared she didn’t spend too much time with her children because she was working so hard. And that she didn’t have much personal time. I told her “look, your hives are being caused by the stress of this job and if you don’t deal with this stress they would become worse.” She cried but I think she got it.

A lot of allergies, particularly hives, can have a psychogenic factor. Hives, also known as pruritus often have a psychopathology associated with symptoms. According to the website, psychosomaticmedicine.org, “types of psychopathology that may be associated with this type of pruritus include individuals with compulsive or impulsive disorders, or delusional disorders…In some cases, it may be difficult to establish whether it is the sensation of itching that provokes the desire to scratch or whether pruritus is a consequence of compulsive scratching.”

In another interesting article on the subject by the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology it states “psychogenic itch is induced in response to the chemicals serotonin and norepinephrine. These chemicals influence stress, depression and delusional parasitosis (a false belief of parasite infestation). It can be treated with anti-depressants and antipsychotic medications.”

An allergist/immunologist that has experience in identifying psychosomatic symptoms of hives and itching can successfully treat the disease and its symptoms.

To learn more, visit http://www.nycallergydoctor.com/allergy

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My Kid, The Allergy Tattoo Artist

I grew up with a typical Jewish mother. She wanted me to achieve great things, but she also worried–especially when she couldn’t watch me.

Most mothers are like that, especially with young kids who have allergies. While they can watch what their child can eat at home, they worry that other adults won’t give allergic kids the attention they deserve.

But there are ways to put a parent’s mind at ease.

Michele Welsh, a mother of three from Baltimore, created a unique company for kids with allergies. Called Safety Tat, the company sells colorful temporary tattoos or long-lasting write-on stickers that can be placed prominently on a child’s arm, with notices such as “ALERT: NUT ALLERGY” or other allergy information.

There are other companies that also produce products for allergic kids. An interesting article in newspaper USA today states that there are companies such as “Lauren’s Hope (http://www.laurenshope.com/ ) creates metal and silicone medical alert bracelets for both boys and girls, and a company called Allermates (http://www.allermates.com/) offers allergy education tools, stickers, alert bracelets and other products for kids such as necklaces and T-shirts.”

The paper continues and says “more than 3 million youngsters have been diagnosed with food allergies, according to a 2012 statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 200 deaths are reported a year.”

“Anything that can help educate the patient about their problem and continue to make them aware about it is helpful whether it’s a temporary tattoo or a warning bracelet,” says Stan Fineman, past president of the American College of Allergy, asthma and Immunology (http://wwe.acaai.org/Pages/default.aspx) and an allergist in Atlanta.

 

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Lactose Intolerance And Your Health

Recently, a young female patient came to me described to me what she said was a food allergy. She said “whenever I eat certain foods, I get cramps, diarrhea and nausea.” I asked her what was the food she was reacting to and she answered me, ” cheese, yogurt and milk.”

She said “I never had this happen to me before.”

I told her that she was lactose intolerant and explained to her that most cases first develop in people aged 20 to 40. Rarely, do they happen in babies or even young children. And that it affects both sexes equally.

It also appears that certain racial and ethnic groups are affected more than others, including 80% of African-Americans, Jews, Mexicans, Native Americans, as well as 90% of Asians.

An interesting article by the Cleveland Clinic website described lactose intolerance as “the inability to digest lactose, the sugar primarily found in milk and dairy products. It is caused by a shortage of lactase in the body, an enzyme produced by the small intestine that is needed to digest lactose.”

Symptoms include but are not limited to: abdominal bloating, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, gas (flatulence) and nausea.

The New York Times Health Guide says that “other intestinal problems, such as irritable bowel syndrome, may cause the same symptoms as lactose intolerance. Tests to help diagnose lactose intolerance include: lactose-hydrogen breath test, lactose tolerance test, and stool pH.”

Treatment for lactose intolerance varies from cutting down or removing dairy products from your diet, to adding lactase enzymes in the form of capsules or chewable tablets to your diet. Since not consuming milk may cause a Vitamin D deficiency, you need 1,000-1,500 mg of calcium each day depending on your medical profile.

You should contact a medical professional if you or your child’s symptoms of lactose intolerance get worse or do not improve with the above-mentioned treatment or develop new symptoms. Also if you have an infant younger than 2 or 3 years old who exhibits symptoms and if your child is growing slowly and not gaining weight.

Learn more http://www.nycallergydoctor.com/milk-allergy/

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My Cat And My Allergies And Asthma

A number of my patients own pets, specifically cats. And they, or their children may be allergic to Mr. Whiskers but are loathe to give them away. So there are a few things to consider with living with a pet.

According to study conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), “more than half of asthma cases in the US are linked to allergies, with sensitivity to cats responsible for 29% of allergy-related asthmas.”

“The findings would seem to indicate that exposure to cats increases asthma risk, but other studies have suggested exposure early in life may actually protect children from developing cat allergies in the first place,” says WebMD.

In a related article, Darryl C. Zeldin, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) says “we are not telling people to get rid of their cats. What we can say from this study is that people with documented cat allergies have an increased risk for developing asthma.”

When families want to have both children and pets, Todd Green, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh points out in NBC news.com, that “it might make sense to get the cat or dog first when planning a family because a recent study found that kids who grew up in a home with both a cat and a dog were less likely to develop an allergy.”

And in another interesting article I read, by Allergy and Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics, even if you get rid of your cat, don’t think the allergy will suddenly disappear. “The allergen load typically takes as long as four to six months to reach that of non-cat homes. It has been shown that cat allergen may persist in mattresses for years after a cat has been removed from the home, so new bedding is recommended.”

So if you decide to keep Mr. Whiskers, I suggest you do the following. Get rid of wall-to-wall carpeting. Hardwood floors are easier to clean. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter, because normal vacuums spread more cat dander in the air than they pick up. Keep the animal outside for as much time as possible or keep it out of sleeping areas of your house.

To find out more, http://www.nycallergydoctor.com/cat-allergy/

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Home Environment Linked To Asthma Cases

Last week I spoke about the hygiene hypothesis that is linked to rising peanut, food and other allergies in Western countries, particularly in the US. The hygiene hypothesis says that due to our sterile environment, we have less “dirty” microbes to fight allergies and asthma. But concerning asthma, that is only a partial explanation.

I read an interesting article in the New York Times which quotes Dr. Harold S. Nelson, a doctor at the specialty hospital National Jewish Health in Denver. He cited the reasons for higher asthma rates are due to “lower levels of Vitamin D, exposure to spray cleaning compounds, and a wider use of acetaminophen in place of aspirin have contributed to the asthma epidemic.”

The problem, he continues in saying is that with household cleaners, “the spray mist can be inhaled and irritate the lungs, increasing risk for asthma. The biggest culprits appear to be glass cleaners and air fresheners. A major European study of cleaning product use found that people faced double the risk of adult asthma. And Australian researchers have also found a link with household cleaning sprays and asthma in children.”

Also, concerning low vitamin D levels, the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology stated in 2007 that researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston showed “a link between low D levels in mothers and childhood asthma “Coupled with inadequate intake from foods and supplements, this then leads to vitamin D deficiency, particularly in pregnant women, resulting in more asthma and allergy in their offspring,” states the journal.

In an another study of 200,000 6 and 7 year olds, the use of acetaminophen in the first year of life with associated with a 46 percent increase in prevalence of asthma symptoms.”

Dr. Nelson concludes to limit asthma risk, people should do the following. Use liquid cleaners or pump sprays that don’t generate a fine mist. Eliminate use of spray air fresheners. Pregnant women and mothers should talk to their physicians about taking vitamin D supplements and also discuss pain relievers with their pediatrician.”

 

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Rise Seen In Peanut Allergies Affecting Children

One of the allergies that is on the rise among my patients–especially ones that are children– is allergy to peanuts.

The New York Times suggested as much in an article dated February 2, 2014 stating that “peanut allergy among children in the United States has risen more than threefold, to 1.4 percent in 2010 from 0.4 in 1997, according to a study by food allergists at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.”

So you may ask, well with all that modern medicine has to offer, why is this and other allergies on the increase?

Well, there a few factors to consider, none is conclusive but taken together we may get a more complete picture. They are, as reported by an article from the UCLA Food and Drug Allergy Care Center:

The Hygiene Hypothesis. This theory states “that excessive cleanliness interrupts the normal development of the immune system, and this change leads to an increase in allergies.”

Delayed Introduction Of Foods. The Center also says that delaying the introduction of some foods like peanuts “may be associated with high rates of food allergy.” This is still a contentious issue among researchers and in the UK, a study to answer the delay in the introduction of peanuts to young children — known as the LEAP study– will answer that question this year.

Form Of Food We Eat. UCLA also reports that “different forms of the same food appear to be more likely to provoke an allergic response, specifically roasting peanuts rather than boiling them makes them much more likely to cause an allergic response.”

Increased Awareness & Reporting. The article finally states that “heightened awareness among doctors, parents, teachers and the general public about the symptoms and potential consequences of food allergies may contribute to the reason we are meeting more people with food allergy.”

I tell my patients that immunotherapy is an effective way to treat peanut allergies. This treatment, like shots given for pollen allergies starts “with exposure under the tongue to a minute amount of the allergic peanut substance, followed by increasing amounts under a doctor’s supervision,” says the New York Times. And in a study published last week in the British journal Lancet, it was found that after six months of oral immunotherapy up to 91 percent of children aged 7 to 16 could safely ingest five peanuts a day.”

For further information, http://www.nycallergydoctor.com/allergy-to-peanuts/

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Your Child And Allergic Rhinitis

I’ve been asked by several of female patients who have allergies and are pregnant, “Dr. Lubitz, will I pass on my allergies to my children?”

It’s a fair question and I will answer it this way. Any child could become allergic, but children who have either parents with a history of allergy are more likely to be allergic. Or as an interesting article in the ACAAI (American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology) website states that “children may inherit the tendency to become allergic from their parents, but only some of them will develop an active allergic disease.”

One of the most common of childhood allergies is allergic rhinitis, sometimes referred to as hay fever or seasonal allergic rhinitis. The website kidshealth.com says that “it occurs during certain times of the year, usually when outdoor molds release their spores, and trees, grasses, and weeds release tiny pollen particles into the air to fertilize other plants.”

In New York and the northeast states, allergy symptoms occur in February through May for tree pollen and for grass pollen from May through June; weed pollen is from August through October, so I tell parents their children will have increased symptoms during those seasons. Mold spores tend to peak in midsummer through the fall.

Symptoms of allergic rhinitis include: sneezing; itchy nose/ and or throat; nasal congestion; clear, runny nose; and coughing. It may also be accompanied by itchy, watery, and/or red eyes commonly known as allergic conjunctivitis. On rare occasions, a child may exhibit wheezing or shortness of breath where the allergy may have progressed to asthma.

Your allergist can suggest the treatment that’s right for your child.

To learn more http://nysinusdoctor.com/allergic_rhinitis/

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