Archive for September, 2013

What You Should Know About Ragweed

Even with cooler temperatures many patients still complain about pollen–itchy, watery eyes, sneezing, and sinus congestion–signs of ragweed.
Other symptoms, include red, puffy eyes, itchy throat, and even hives. Severe cases can lead to chronic sinus problems and even asthma attacks.

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of American just released its list of the most allergy prone cities in America. Witchita, Kansas was the first, followed by Jackson, Missisippi, and Knoxville Tennessee. New York was 56th out of a hundred cities in the allergy rankings. It is however, experiencing the worst rise in ragweed cases in many years.

I noticed a recent press release by the allergy foundation that “the top cities are places where ragweed thrives,” according to Mike Tringale, vice president of external affairs at AAFA. “In addition, there is some crossover–some grasses are still pollinating.”

Also, I read there is an indication that two trends are at work regarding the recent spike in ragweed cases. Interestingly, in an article by on online Yahoo News, “climate change may also be extending the growing season of ragweed.” The second trend is “frosts are coming later, so the ragweed pollen season is later and is lasting longer, because it is not killed off by the frost,” says Richard Weber, a professor of medicine at the National Jewish health Medical Center in Denver, Col.

I recommend to my patients to do the following to reduced your pollen exposure as cited in WebMD: “1) stay indoors when pollen counts are the highest; 2) at home and in the car, keep the windows closed and the air conditioner on; 3) change your clothes after you’ve been outdoors; 4) shower before bed to remove pollen from face and hair; 5) try nasal irrigation. Your doctor can advise you on the best system to do so; and 6) equip your home with HEPA air filters in each room.”

Need additional help overcoming your allergy symptoms? You can find more information on Seasonal Allergies here Need more help with your allergy symptoms? Contact my office for a consultation – or book online

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Don’t Go Nuts Flying With Nut Allergies

A lot of my patients who have nut allergies are concerned whether they will have a reaction to their allergy when flying.

As reported in an article in the March 2013 issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, Dr. Matthew Greenhawt, a clinician and researcher at the University of Michigan, was the lead author of a study in precautions international passengers have taken against nut allergies.

He said he “and his colleagues asked peanut and tree nut allergy suffers from 11 countries, only some of whom had in-flight reactions, what precautions they routinely took when they flew. The most common strategies: requesting a buffer zone around the allergy-affected passengers in which peanuts or tree nuts would not be served; requesting a general announcement that passengers refrain from eating peanut or tree nut-containing food; and ordering a peanut or tree nut-free meal. Other safety measures included wiping their tray tables, bring their own food and avoiding use of airline pillows and blankets. Another security measure included bring their own epinephrine.”

Said the New York Times of the study, “just 1 in 10 passengers who responded to the questionnaire reported having had an allergic reaction on an airplane within the previous five years. Some who had reactions reported taking precautions, while others who made no such efforts reported being fine”

The Times also reported that “federal legislation prevents regulation of in-flight nut restrictions until a scientific study shows that the dust circulates in the air and also triggers reactions in those with allergies”, which this study did not conclude. In fact, I read there were three other flight studies of nut allergy at risk passengers–but concentrated on domestic flights– which were also inconclusive.

Until the airlines ban peanuts and tree nuts from their flights, I would advise my patients to take prudent allergy precautions which airline travelers took in this latest study.

If you have questions about traveling with allergies, call your allergist. Live in the NYC area? Give me a call at 217/247-7447, I’d be happy to arrange a consultation.

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