Archive for March, 2015

Allergy Season Survival Tips

If the weatherman holds true, spring will be coming to NYC this week.

With the rain and warmer temperatures in the forecast, trees and grasses will begin their seasonal production of pollen.  Once that pollen catches a breeze, allergy season opens.

How were your allergies last year? If you find yourself already dreading spring, you aren’t alone.  I am constantly asked “How can I stay ahead of my allergies?”

To answer that question, I’ve compiled a list of suggestions that may help you avoid your allergy trigger.  If these actions don’t satisfactorily ease your symptoms, give me a call – there are many new treatments and medications available. You may find relief is possible without a battery of allergy shots.

The first – Know what triggers your symptoms.  Early spring symptoms can be triggered by tree pollen, grasses, mold and even dust mites (stirred up from spring cleaning). If you aren’t certain what’s causing your discomfort, get a skin test.  A skin test can assist in proper diagnosis and treatment. Allergy drops and tablets (called sublingual allergy treatment) are great solutions for grasses and even some pet allergies.

Next – avoid being outside when pollen level are at their peak.  The best times for outdoor activities are before dawn, late afternoon and early evening.

Something else to consider, the material making up your clothing, synthetic fabrics coupled with movement (fabric rubbing against itself) can create a small electric charge. This charge can actually work as a magnet, drawing pollen to the “charged” fabric. Consider natural fibers during allergy season.

If you are heading out, gardening or doing some yard work, take an antihistamine ½ hour before going outside.  An antihistamine can offer some support by blocking your body’s allergy response, suppressing your allergy symptoms. A mask can also help. Use a mask rated 95 by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) for the best protection.  Do not touch your eyes.  Again, if you find the antihistamine makes you drowsy, there are alternatives available to you without the OTC antihistamine side effects.

When you come in from the outdoors, leave your shoes at the door and shower, making certain to wash your hair. Wash your clothes.  Vacuum often and use machine washable furniture and floor coverings.

We’ve had a long winter, and springtime in New York is not to be missed – or observed from afar.  If these tips don’t ease your symptoms, or if you find your allergies are affecting your quality of life, see an allergist (I welcome you to contact me for a consultation). There are a number of good treatment options that are unobtrusive yet effective that can get you back outside.

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About LEAP and Its Consequences in Medical Practice & Prevention and Lifestyles

The study I touched on in my previous post, Learning About Peanut Early, confirmed that early exposure to the product, in controlled doses, can actually significantly reduce the risk of an allergic onset later on in life. The test was carried out on children who were considered at-risk of developing peanut allergies later in life, based on skin-prick tests and their allergies to things like milk and eggs.

Experts quickly jumped onboard and started debating the ways through which not only medical professionals should approach the findings, but also about how they should be implemented worldwide. The same experts continuously warn parents that the study is not a base for giving their children peanuts or products containing them, unless they were instructed to do so by their physicians or pediatricians and the practice is done in a controlled environment that disposes of the necessary equipment to deal with emergencies.

The problem arising from the study is that medical professionals from around the world would need to be instructed in finding new approaches in dealing with peanut allergies. Skin-prick tests are crucial, and without them, the study wouldn’t have been possible in the first place. So getting those tests in areas where there are none is a huge priority.

Another issue is that this whole idea is based on a very strict timeline, so timing, in this case, is the most important factor. Skin-prick tests and other signs like egg allergies can quickly determine whether an infant is prone to developing a peanut allergy immediately. A course of action can only be followed once this has been confirmed, and, once again, only under the strict supervision of a professional healthcare provider.

As these debates unfold and solutions are being brought to the forefront, new studies are called for. Can the practice be applied to children over 1 year of age, and will the results confirm the practice in that case as well? Many more questions remain unanswered, but now that a red flag has been raised, there’s little doubt that steps will be taken in the right direction in due time.

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Breakthrough in Understanding Peanut Allergies

For quite a while now, physicians and healthcare providers have emphasized the fact that people prone to developing a peanut allergy should steer clear of them and products containing peanuts. But a new randomized clinical trial, presented in Houston at this years AAAAI Convention, comes to dispute that concept, clearly showing that children who were served products containing trace amounts of peanuts, even though they were prone to developing an allergy later on, had considerably avoided it.

The study focused on whether adding products which contained peanuts in the first year of life to children prone to developing the allergy would have any effect, positive or negative. Out of the control group who were instructed to give their kids products with peanuts in them at least 2 or 3 times a week, only 3% developed an allergy. In the other group, which completely avoided peanuts and products containing them, a staggering 17% developed allergies.
For everybody else, this is both good and bad news. For starters, medical professionals may have been wrong all this time, advising people to steer clear of products they were prone to develop an allergy to. Inadvertently, they may even have contributed to the spike of people suffering from various allergies. The study clearly shows that introducing these foods early on in life, particularly in the first 11 months of a child’s life, can help them develop the normal immune response and not the allergy outbreak.

A word of caution though – this does not warrant you or your kids eating things you know you’re allergic to, or introducing trace amounts of them into your weekly diets. Research still needs to be made and an appropriate portion determined for your own safety.

If you have question and live in the NYC area, give me a call for a consultation, DO NOT introduce a known allergen into your body without consulting a reputable healthcare provider. Already developed allergies can be managed through avoidance and special medication successfully.

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