Summer is ending, fall is upon us, and we all know what that means! No, we’re not talking about crisp air and pumpkin spice, we’re referring to fall allergies. You made it through spring, maybe even got a little respite in summer, but weed pollen is in the air and fall allergies are right around the corner. How can you prepare for ragweed season? Here are some suggestions and facts you need to know.
- Fall allergies behave a lot like spring allergies. If you’re sensitive to autumn’s allergens, you may experience the old familiar symptoms of sinus congestion, post-nasal drip, runny nose, sneezing, coughing, and itchy or watery eyes. In fact, you may be so miserable that you’ll mistakenly think you have a cold. Pay attention to the patterns of your symptoms, because if they return every year around the same time, it’s likely that you’re experiencing allergies. See an allergist for a diagnosis so that you can successfully treat your allergies.
- Back to school can mean back to allergies. When kids head back into the classroom, they face a host of allergens, germs and viruses. Sometimes the one-two punch of pollen and germs can be overwhelming, especially since the cold virus can trigger asthma. Ragweed allergy accounts for millions of missed school and work days. Studies show that students with untreated allergies have significantly lower learning scores than their classmates without allergies. Work with your child’s school to create a plan to manage allergies, and see an allergist for help so that fall allergies don’t get in the way of learning.
- Ragweed is the top offender when it comes to fall allergens. That’s largely because it produces very fine pollen and keeps producing it from August until November. About 30 percent of the population is sensitive to ragweed, which causes hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis. Ragweed pollen counts peak in September and October, so check pollen counts when you’re planning your day in order to steer clear of outdoor activities when pollen counts are at their highest. You may think you’re safe if you live in an urban area or somewhere that ragweed does not grow. However, a single ragweed plant produces an enormous amount of pollen- up to one million granules per day. These tiny granules travel on the wind, and urban areas can be hit hard by pollen in the afternoons. How far can ragweed pollen travel? It has been found 10 miles out to sea, so there’s no question that it can make it to your home.
- Other allergens come into play in fall, too. This is also the time of year when mold spores reach their highest levels. Why? As falling leaves begin to decompose, they invite mold growth that continues into October. Combine that with the fact that fall weeds keep producing pollen until the first frost hits, and it’s easy to see why this is a miserable time of year for those with allergies. To determine what’s causing your allergic reactions, you can see an allergist for a skin test, and once you have a diagnosis, you’ll know what you need to avoid. When you can’t avoid allergens, there are medications that can manage your symptoms and allergy immunotherapy to treat the underlying causes.
- Pre-treatment can be helpful. You’ll want to prepare by stocking up on allergy medication, but it’s not a bad idea to go ahead and start taking them, too. When you pre-treat with antihistamines and nasal sprays, you can keep inflammation at bay and reduce the severity of your allergy symptoms.
- Know how to limit your exposure. Because it’s so fine, ragweed can be difficult to avoid. Changing your clothes often and bathing frequently can help remove pollen you’re carrying around with you. Limit how much pollen enters your home by keeping the windows closed, changing air filters frequently, and using a dehumidifier to keep mold growth at bay. Outdoors, wear an N95 mask when doing yard work or home maintenance. Don’t wear shoes inside your house, as this can bring pollen in from outdoors.
When you need help identifying and treating seasonal allergies, look to a board-certified allergist to determine your allergens and create a treatment plan. The physicians at Allergy & Asthma Specialists SM are board-certified in allergy and immunology. They can help you identify triggers and learn to control your symptoms. Call 610-825-5800 or visit the website for an appointment, or to learn more.
Easy Tips for Avoiding Asthma Triggers This Fall
Fall brings just as many allergens into the air as Spring does. As an asthma sufferer, it’s important to take precautions to keep yourself safe and avoid as many asthma-inducing allergy triggers as possible. Read through our list of tips to help you stay healthy this coming season.
What Causes Asthma Attacks in the Fall?
While it’s difficult not to enjoy the crisp air and vivid colors of fall, if you have asthma or other allergies, you might not be as eager to embrace the season.
Pollen, which is generated by ragweed and may travel great distances in the wind, is a major cause of allergy attacks in the fall. Mold from decaying leaves and moist spots where water collects is another catalyst. For people with asthma, these seasonal allergens may be accompanied by enduring indoor allergens such as dust mites, which are more prevalent when the heat is on, cockroach/insect droppings, and animal dander.
Why Does My Asthma Flair?
The body’s immune system overreacting to a material it incorrectly perceives as harmful or dangerous is the cause of allergic disease and asthma. Histamine is released as part of this inflammatory reaction causing the production of mucous and the narrowing of nasal passages and airways. The result can be a runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes, itching, coughing, wheezing and for certain individuals a narrowing of the airways or an asthma attack.
Asthma is characterized by bronchial spasms and airway narrowing brought on by these substances.
How Do I Avoid Allergy Triggers?
There are many steps you can take to help avoid asthma attacks as a result of Fall allergens. You want to layer as many preventative measures as possible to build a defense against the environment. Some of the best tips we can offer include:
Monitor your area’s pollen and mold count.
There are many resources for this as well as the newest version of Windows that will warn you when the pollen count in your neighborhood is high. Avoid being outside for any longer than you must when the pollen count is high.
Wash your clothes after spending time outside.
While this may feel tedious, your clothes attract a significant amount of pollen while you’re outside. If you live in a more suburban or rural area where there is more nature and plants, you will want to take extra care. When you return from the outside, remove your clothes and store them in a sealed hamper before you can wash them. This helps you to avoid bringing in extra pollen from outside.
Keep your home’s windows closed.
While the Fall air feels nice and refreshing after a hot summer, and it may be tempting to invite some of the fresh air into your home, it’s best to keep your windows and doors closed. This helps reduce the amount of pollen that enters your home unfiltered. Your home’s air conditioner and heating system have filters that help reduce the spread of pollen, mold, and dust throughout your home. It’s also a good idea to make sure you clean/replace these filters at the correct intervals.
Invest in a home air purifier.
Modern air purifiers have automatic technology to determine the number of contaminants in your home’s air to turn on fans and filter out pollen and mold. There are many different makes and models, depending on your needs, room sizes, and budget. Make sure to do proper research into finding the right air purifiers for you. They can make a significant impact in your overall health and wellbeing by filtering and removing the particles that cause you to have asthma.
Bathe before going to sleep.
Along with washing your clothes, if you’ve spent a considerable amount of time outside this fall, it’s a good idea to bathe and shampoo before getting into bed, further slowing down the spread of pollen, mold, and dust that can get into your sinuses.
Contact Our Team
Do you have trouble managing your asthma and allergy symptoms during the fall? While we enjoy tailgates, cookouts, campfires, and football season, it’s important to take care of your health. Asthma can be debilitating when combined with severe allergic reactions to pollen, mold, and dust. A new course of therapy could be required. You can depend on the medical professionals and board-certified allergists at Allergy & Asthma Specialists to help identify your triggers and develop a personalized treatment plan Call 610-825-5800 to make an appointment at one of the eight accessible offices in the Philadelphia region if you’re prepared to breathe easier this fall.
Summer is here! After a hot day in the sun, there’s nothing more refreshing than a delicious frozen treat to cool you down and tickle your taste buds. If you’ve got kids, your summertime nostalgia has probably kicked in, and you are thinking back to your own childhood, when frozen desserts like ice cream and popsicles were the perfect end to a busy day of riding bikes, swimming, or playing with friends. You can share this experience with your own little ones, even if they have milk allergies, with these amazing recipes for safe frozen treats they’ll love on hot summer days.
Just because your child has a milk allergy, that doesn’t mean there’s no room for a sweet, creamy, frozen treat. Milk-free “Ice Cream” is a breeze, using your ice cream maker and these simple recipes:
- Chocolate Coco Whipped Freeze uses chocolate coconut milk, sweetened condensed coconut milk, and coconut whipped topping for a creamy, chocolatey delight.
- Pina Colada Ice Cream is a tropical treat that’s easy to make with coconut milk, brown sugar, and canned pineapple.
- Orange Soy Ice Cream is a creamsicle-tasting alternative for those who don’t enjoy coconut, and all it takes is vanilla soy milk, orange juice, sugar, and vanilla.
- Pumpkin Dream Ice Cream will almost make you daydream about fall and pumpkin pie, with its creamy pumpkin, coconut milk, and cinnamon.
- Strawberry Soy Ice Cream is another non-coconut option, requiring only soy milk, strawberries, sugar, and vanilla.
Want to use your ice cream maker for something less creamy and more fruity? Try these delightful sorbets or granitas! If you don’t have an ice cream maker, you can pour the mixture into a shallow pan, place it in the freezer, and take it out every 30-45 minutes to scrape it with a fork. When you do this, you’ll create frozen flakes that eventually result in a mixture of coarse frozen grains of goodness.
- Strawberry Sorbet requires only five ingredients: fresh strawberries, apple juice, lemon, water, and sugar.
- Blueberry Sorbet uses fresh blueberries, sugar, water, and a little bit of lemon.
- Fresh Pineapple Sorbet is not too sweet and not too tart, but very refreshing.
- Watermelon Blueberry Sorbet doesn’t need an ice cream maker, just watermelon, blueberries, corn syrup, and a blender.
- Mango Apricot “Ice Cream” Sorbet has a smoother texture and is made of fruit, powdered sugar, and lime juice.
Feeling creative? There’s a host of desserts you can make using molds. Try a frozen mousse in the mold of your choice, or make your own popsicles. You can use popsicle molds or go truly old school, with paper cups and wooden popsicle sticks.
- Milk-free Frozen Berry Mousse can be made with any berries your family prefers. Experiment until you find your favorite!
- Blueberry “Cheezecake” Pops are milk-free, no-sugar-added treats that are full of flavor. They contain coconut milk and blueberries, and the surprise ingredient that makes them so irresistible is pitted dates.
- Chocolate Pudding Pops can also just be chocolate pudding if you’re not in the mood to freeze them.
- Pear Pops take canned pears and turn them into treats your kids will clamor for, using a recipe that’s so simple you won’t mind making them every day.
- Strawberry Banana Frozen Yogurt Pops elevate soy yogurt and fresh fruit to popsicle heaven.
- Pina Colada Paletas use a recipe that’s similar to pina colada ice cream, but doesn’t require an ice cream maker.
Living with allergies doesn’t have to limit you! Follow this blog for more tasty recipes and helpful tips. If you or your children suffer from allergies and you’re looking for an experienced, board-certified allergist, we can help with that, too. The physicians at Allergy & Asthma Specialists SM are board-certified in allergy and immunology and are the region’s most experienced in food allergy testing and high-risk food challenges. They can help you identify triggers and learn to control your symptoms. Call 610-825-5800 or visit the website for an appointment, or to learn more.
Most people spend more time outside in the summer than in any other season. Outdoor cookouts, picnics, and pool parties are a fun way to get together with family and friends while enjoying the beautiful weather.
However, if you have allergies or asthma, you could end up spending more time sneezing, blowing your nose, and using your inhaler than actually soaking up the time with your loved ones. While you should always carry quick-relief medications just in case, the key to enjoying yourself at outdoor BBQs is to avoid your allergy and asthma triggers. Here’s how.
Steer Clear of Smoke from Grills or Fire Pits
Grilling is a fun, healthy way to prepare food in the summer. It also prevents heating your house on hot afternoons. Unfortunately, combustion pollutants from BBQs, bonfires, and fire pits can trigger an asthma attack. Even gas grills and fire pits can be problematic.
If you’re hosting the cookout, position the grill as far as possible from where your guests will gather. If you’re attending an event at someone else’s home, pay attention to which way the wind is blowing so you can steer clear of smoke and fumes.
Avoid Pollen Exposure
While flower and tree pollen peak in the springtime, grass pollen remains a common allergy trigger all summer long. Then, ragweed pollen becomes an issue late in the season. Common symptoms of pollen exposure include runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing, and itchy or watery eyes.
If you have a pollen allergy, check pollen counts before heading outdoors. If you choose to venture out, wear sunglasses and a hat to help keep pollen out of your eyes and off your hair. When the outdoor event is over, change your clothes and plan to shower before bed.
Manage Mold Exposure
Pollen isn’t the only environmental allergy and asthma trigger you’re likely to face at an outdoor BBQ. Mold on rotting logs, compost heaps, and damp outdoor furniture may also threaten your chances of having fun.
If you’re the event host, you can take steps to prevent and remove mold outdoors, such as applying a mold protectant to vulnerable surfaces and improving drainage on your property. If you’re a party guest and your mold allergy symptoms become severe, take your prescribed medication or consider excusing yourself.
Prevent Insect Bites and Stings
No one wants insects at an outdoor party, but they’re almost certain to attend anyway. Not only are bugs a nuisance, but they can also be a dangerous threat for people with insect allergies. Bites and stings from certain pests can even cause anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction that blocks the airway and makes breathing difficult.
If you know you have severe reactions to stings from bees, wasps, hornets, yellow jackets, fire ants, or mosquitoes, bring an epinephrine auto-injector to the BBQ. If you’re hosting the get-together, tidy up the landscape and eliminate standing water to avoid attracting bugs. If you’re a guest, wear close-toed shoes in the yard, keep your sugary drink covered, and avoid wearing flowery perfume.
Stay Away from Scented Products
Many bug repellents, such as scented candles and tiki torch oil, can trigger asthma in sensitive individuals. Strong perfumes and odor-hiding air fresheners are also common asthma triggers.
Steer clear of scented items as much as possible. If a product is bothering you, consider asking the host to remove it. Also, bring a mask to wear to the bathroom in case others before you have sprayed fragrances.
Read Sunscreen Labels
Overexposure to the sun can cause sunburn, premature wrinkles, and skin cancer. Some people even experience an allergic reaction called solar urticaria, developing a rash or hives on any skin exposed to sunlight. It’s beneficial to wear sunscreen whether or not you have solar urticaria, but you might also be allergic to your sunscreen.
Benzophenone, octocrylene, and para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) are the chemicals most likely to cause contact dermatitis from wearing sunscreen. Opt for a natural product that doesn’t contain these ingredients so you can protect yourself from the sun’s rays without developing a rash or other uncomfortable symptoms.
Skip the Fireworks
Fireworks have become a part of many summer holidays and celebrations. Unfortunately, they release smoke and small particulate matter that can trigger asthma. Fireworks are also a safety hazard and can spark fires.
Avoid launching your own fireworks this summer. If you attend a professional show, enjoy the display from farther away or even from indoors, if possible.
Are you struggling to control your asthma and allergy symptoms this summer? You may need a new treatment plan. Rely on the physicians and board-certified allergists at Allergy & Asthma SpecialistsSM to provide optimal care. If you’re ready to breathe easier this summer, please call 610-825-5800 and request an appointment at one of eight convenient office locations in the Philadelphia area.
Allergy & Asthma Specialists℠ offers suggestions for throwing an allergy-free spring party.
Did you know that about 32 million Americans suffer from food allergies? That number includes about seven million children, most of whom are allergic to more than one kind of food. If you’re planning a party, whether for adults or kids, it’s a good idea to try to avoid the most common allergens in your party foods. Here, we’ve got some tips for throwing an allergy-free spring party that will be fun for everyone on the guest list!
Know the most common allergens. Hopefully, you’ll be aware of any allergies your guests have, so that you can prepare dishes that cater to their particular needs. If you’re unsure, though, plan a menu that avoids these common allergens: milk, peanuts, eggs, fish, wheat, sesame, shellfish, soy, and some tree nuts like cashews, almonds, and walnuts.
Rethink cake. Reading through the above list, you know doubt noticed that some of the most common allergens are also the ingredients in cake. Fortunately, you can make non-traditional cakes that are dairy-free and even wheat-free. To make sure everyone at the party can have an allergy-free treat, consider making multiple cakes.
Plan a healthy snack table. Avoid serving nuts because even putting them on the table can create contamination. Instead, serve snacks like vegetable sticks, raisins, hummus and popcorn. Fresh fruit is a great option because you know exactly what’s in it. Make fruit kebabs, a fruit salad, or a platter with different types of fruit, for a sure-fire hit.
Offer some gluten-free options. Gluten free cookies, doughnuts, and flour-less cakes can be delicious. For savory treats, buffalo wings and dip with carrots and celery are good options. And did you know that popcorn is gluten-free? Go for butter and salt popcorn for a healthy, popular snack.
Consider making it a BYO affair. Encouraging guests to bring their favorite snacks to share is a great way to ensure that everyone has something safe to eat and enjoy. It’s also fun because it gives everyone the opportunity to taste things they may not have ever tried before!
Don’t just focus on the menu. Did you know that some arts and crafts supplies can have allergens, too? For example, wheat ingredients in play dough have been known to trigger allergies. Be careful with party favors, too. Candies can sometimes be an issue, so stick to things like stickers, puzzles, bracelets, and games for party favor bags that are safe for everyone.
When in doubt, choose a venue. Sometimes, your best option is really just to let someone else handle the details. Professional party venues can accommodate children’s allergy needs, as long as they’re informed ahead of time. Make sure the staff and manager know about the allergies so that you can be sure the menu and facility are free of any allergens that could be hazardous to your guests.
Taking some time to plan can make your party fun and safe, even for your guests with allergies. If you or your children suffer from allergies, it’s a good idea to look for an experienced, board-certified allergist. The physicians at Allergy & Asthma Specialists SM are the region’s most experienced allergists in high-risk food allergy testing and challenges. Call 610-825-5800 or visit the website for an appointment, or to learn more.
Allergy & Asthma Specialists SM explains what to do in case of a bee sting, how to treat it, and what to watch for in terms of allergic reactions to bee stings.
Spring and summer are wonderful seasons for getting outside and enjoying nature. It’s important to remember, though, that humans aren’t the only species out and about in the warmer weather. We share our peaceful natural spaces with many little creatures, some of whom can cause some pain if we encounter them. Bee stings are something that can happen quickly and cause pain to the average person, but can cause much worse effects for someone who is allergic to them. Do you know what to do in case of a bee sting? Just in time for the warmer weather, here’s a guide on how to treat bee stings and identify an allergic reaction.
Be aware that the most important thing to do is to get the stinger out as quickly as possible. A bee’s stinger releases venom the entire time it’s in a person’s skin, so the longer it stays in, the more pain and swelling the person will experience. Another note: the following apply not only to bee stings but also to the stings of wasps and hornets.
Keep your cool. If you are stung by something, walk calmly away from the area. While bees are typically only able to sting once, wasps and hornets can sting again after they’ve already stung you. To avoid additional stings, get out of the vicinity of the bugs.
Get the stinger out of the skin. Wasps and hornets don’t leave their stingers behind, but if you were stung by a bee, there’s likely to be a stinger in your skin. You can remove it by scraping over it with a piece of gauze, your fingernail, or even a credit card, but never use tweezers to pull out a stinger. Tweezers can squeeze the stinger and cause it to release more venom into your skin.
Wash the area that has been stung with soap and water. This will help to reduce the chance of a bacterial infection resulting from the sting.
Use a cold pack to ease pain and swelling. If this does not help, or the swelling moves to another part of your body, seek emergency medical attention as quickly as possible.
Try over-the-counter pain relievers. A sting from a bee, wasp, or hornet can be very painful, but the pain can often be alleviated with medication like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Follow the instructions on the label for appropriate dosage.
Signs of an allergic reaction. Localized swelling of the sting site is not an allergic reaction. Systemic symptoms, i.e. symptoms away from the sting site are of concern. Swelling, especially in your face or neck, can be a sign of an allergic reaction. Also, pay attention to other symptoms of allergic reaction like trouble breathing, nausea, dizziness, or hives. Now is the time to go to the emergency department.
For most people, bee stings do not cause a severe reaction. It’s important to pay attention after someone has been stung, though, because serious symptoms could be a sign of an allergic reaction. Do not ignore even a mild allergic reaction. A mild allergic reaction will be more severe if an individual is stung again, possibly resulting in anaphylactic shock. Seek help from an experienced, board-certified allergist highly trained in testing for stinging insect allergies and prescribing life saving treatment. Call 610-825-5800 or visit the website for an appointment, or to learn more.
Spring is upon us! There are many things to appreciate about this season but if you suffer from seasonal allergies, you may not be looking forward to everything being in bloom. This year, instead of dreading the season, be proactive about preparing your sinuses for what’s about to happen.
Understand what’s about to happen to your sinuses. If you suffer from allergies, allergic triggers can cause your sinuses to become inflamed. This inflammation causes the nasal passages to swell and creates drainage, leading to headaches, snoring that disrupts your sleep, and post-nasal drip that can upset your stomach and cause gastric reflux.
Be proactive in avoiding pollen. If you’re experiencing allergic symptoms in the spring, they’re probably caused by a reaction to grass and tree pollen. It’s hard to get away from pollen because it can travel great distances, but you can work on avoiding pollens and keeping them out of your home by taking some simple steps.
Use your air conditioning and keep the windows closed, at home and in your car.
Pay attention to pollen counts and stay inside when they’re high, as well as when the weather is dry and windy.
Because tree pollen peaks in the early morning, grass pollen in the afternoon, choose other times for your outdoor activities.
Shower and wash your hair nightly to keep pollen out of your bed.
Don’t mow your lawn or be around the freshly-cut grass. If you have no option but to mow, wear goggles and a mask.
Use your dryer instead of hanging your laundry to dry outdoors.
Wash your hands frequently and don’t touch your face or rub your eyes, especially when you’ve been outside.
Keep your pets clean, cleaning their paws and fur when they come inside to reduce the allergens they carry into the house.
Make your home airway friendly. Change your HVAC filters frequently to remove dust and dander from the air in your home and use a humidifier to keep the air moist. Moist air can help to soothe irritated mucus membranes and thin the mucus in your sinuses so that it’s easier to expel. When you keep your sinuses clear, you’ll be less likely to develop sinus infections.
Stay hydrated. The proper hydration can help your mucus membranes function properly and successfully ward off congestion and infections. When your body is well-hydrated, your mucus will remain thin and able to flow freely. You can drink sports drinks, juice, and tea to support hydration, but water is the best option for protecting your mucus membranes and helping your sinuses to drain.
Stock up on sinus-pampering supplies. There are plenty of products available to help keep your sinuses healthy by promoting good nasal drainage. One device is the Neti Pot, a small container with a spout-like shape, used to introduce water into one nostril and allow it to drain through the other. You can effectively use this device to flush your sinuses, as long as you make sure to use distilled or sterile water rather than tap water, which can raise your risk of sinus infection. Saline spray is a great over-the-counter treatment for promoting healthy mucus membranes. Keep warm compresses on hand, to relieve sinus pressure and inflammation, and if you’re feeling stuffy, take a hot shower or steam your face over a sink full of hot water.
Know how to treat sinus inflammation. Talk to your doctor about the best medications to help you alleviate sinus inflammation.
Over-the-counter antihistamines, like Benadryl, Dimetapp, Zyrtec, Claritin, Clarinex, and Allegra may offer relief. Pay attention to the specific side effects of whichever medication you decide to try.
Decongestants can help too and are especially effective when used in combination with antihistamines.
Nasal steroids work well when used on a daily basis as treatment for seasonal and perennial allergies.
Allergy immunotherapy may be recommended for you if other treatments aren’t working or are causing side effects, or if you have symptoms regularly and prefer not to take daily medications. Talk to a board-certified allergist for more information about whether immunotherapy is right for you.
When you want help preparing your sinuses for spring or you need assistance with your allergies, look for an experienced, board-certified allergist. The physicians at Allergy & Asthma Specialists SM are board-certified in allergy and immunology. They can help you identify triggers and learn to control your symptoms. Call 610-825-5800 or visit the website for an appointment, or to learn more.
Each year, as the weather warms up and temperatures rise above 50 degrees, seasonal spring allergies hit. Why? Because that’s when plants begin to bloom, releasing their pollen into the air. The allergy season hits its peak between March and June, so it’s important to start preparing for it now.
What causes spring allergies? An allergic reaction happens when your immune system mistakes allergens for dangerous substances and produces antibodies to fight them. In the spring, tree pollen starts to appear in the air in the beginning of February, and it’s joined by grass pollen later in the season. These are two of the worst offenders for triggering spring allergies. When your body tries to fight allergens like pollen with antibodies, it produces histamine, and that’s what leads to allergy symptoms. Spring allergens typically produce respiratory reactions like sinus congestion, runny nose, post-nasal drip, sneezing, coughing, itchy or watery eyes and, sometimes shortness of breath.
You don’t have to wait until your spring allergies symptoms are making you miserable to take action. Preparing for allergy season ahead of time can help you get ahead of it and that will mean fewer allergy symptoms. If you’ve never seen an allergist, do it so you’ll know what your allergies are and how to treat them. Here are some ways to prepare for springtime allergies.
Get the jump on allergies by taking medicine before you have symptoms. About two weeks before you normally begin to experience allergies, start using over-the-counter antihistamines and nasal steroid sprays. An allergist can provide a treatment plan to help you select the right ones for you. This can help prevent inflammation and ease your symptoms. If your symptoms are relentless and disrupt your daily activities, you can also try immunotherapy (allergy shots). Allergy shots treat the underlying cause and provide a near total cure of your allergic disease. It takes a few months for patients to get relief from symptoms with immunotherapy, so it’s smart to begin it ahead of time. You do not have to be experiencing symptoms to see the allergist and start a personalized treatment plan for spring allergies.
See to your spring cleaning. Deep cleaning your home by dusting it from top to bottom, washing curtains, sweeping floors, and vacuuming rugs and furniture, can help remove dust and pollen from inside your house. When you’re cleaning or working in the yard, wear an allergy mask to reduce your allergen inhalation. When you finish up for the day, change your clothes and shower, including shampooing your hair, taking care not to carry pollen spores through your house on your clothes.
Keep an eye on the pollen. Watch the local pollen counts and stay inside during peak pollen hours in the midmorning and early evening on days that pollen count is high.
Don’t open your windows. It’s warm and breezy out there, but don’t let the outside air into your house. Keeping your house sealed up will help keep pollen out and give you a place to retreat from allergens. Think about this with your car, too, keeping your windows closed and your AC circulating.
Change your air filters. Most air filters need to be changed every one to three months, so take note of the manufacturer’s instructions and change yours as often as is recommended. Use other tools, too, like zippered pillowcases and mattress covers to reduce dust mites and pet dander.
Mind the mold. While tree and grass pollen are prominent spring allergens, mold can be a problem as well. Spring can be damp, and moisture makes a hospitable environment for mold. Keep your home’s humidity level below 50 percent and stay vigilant about signs of mold, cleaning it as soon as you see it.
If you are suffering from seasonal allergies and over-the-counter medicines aren’t working, an experienced, board-certified allergist can help you determine how to manage them. The physicians at Allergy & Asthma Specialists SM are board-certified in allergy and immunology. They can help you identify triggers and learn to control your symptoms. Call 610-825-5800 or visit the website for an appointment, or to learn more.
Have you set any New Year’s resolutions yet? Most people want to be healthier, but this is easier said than done, especially if asthma or allergies get in your way. It’s not enough to say, “I will be healthier in 2022”—your goals must be measurable and actionable if you hope to achieve them. If you have asthma or allergies, check out these 15 New Year’s resolutions for your health that you can actually keep this year.
1. Meet with an Allergist to Identify Your Triggers
If you don’t already have an asthma and allergy treatment plan, it’s time to make one. An evaluation from a board-certified allergist can be highly beneficial. Your allergist will assess your condition, help determine your triggers, and suggest ways to manage your symptoms. Allergy symptoms can sometimes be controlled with easy modifications to your environment. Asthma can be better controlled with a personalized combination of fast-acting treatment (such as a prescription inhaler) and long-term treatment (including oral medications and immunotherapy).
2. Review Your Existing Treatment Plan
If you’re already taking steps to manage your asthma and allergies, review your plan with your doctor at the start of the year. Discuss what is and isn’t working for you, including any lifestyle or economic barriers you face. Also, the allergists at Allergy & Asthma Specialists are on the forefront of prescribing biologic drugs for asthma, eczema and hives that are acclaimed as life changing. For the medications you are currently prescribed, ask questions to make sure you’re taking them correctly, and review your inhaler technique with your doctor. After all, the medicine won’t work if it doesn’t reach your lungs.
3. Create an Anaphylaxis Emergency Action Plan
Ask your doctor for help creating an emergency plan in case you ever go into anaphylactic shock. The American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology has a form you can fill out and keep with your other medical records or first aid kit.
4. Take Medications and Use Immunotherapy as Directed
Allergen Immunotherapy is the only available treatment for allergic disease that can reduce symptoms, improve quality of life, alter the course of the disease, and induce long-term clinical remission safely and effectively in patients with allergen sensitivity. Maintaining a compliant schedule is very important.
Inhalers don’t “cure” asthma , but using them properly can help you control your condition. For the best results, set a goal to follow the instructions recommended by your doctor and allergist.
5. Start a Symptom Diary
Are you unsure why flare-ups occur when they do? Chances are you’re coming in contact with asthma and allergy triggers without knowing it. Set a goal to keep track of your medication use, activities, and symptoms every day. Track where you go, what you eat, and what environmental hazards you’re exposed to so you can begin recognizing what causes your symptoms to flare up.
6. Reduce Your Exposure to Asthma and Allergy Triggers
Thanks to your symptom diary, you may realize your asthma worsens at night and in the morning. This means there could be a trigger in your bedroom, such as the wall-to-wall carpet, dust mites in your bedding, or pet dander in your pillow. Experiment with changes to your environment, such as replacing the flooring, covering your pillow and mattress with dust-mite-proof cases, and keeping pets out of the bedroom. Such efforts may allow you to reduce your exposure and minimize your symptoms naturally. Allergists are experts at helping to identify environmental triggers and how to eliminate or avoid them.
7. Keep Up with Weekly Chores
Cleaning your home can help cut down on indoor allergens, so set a goal to sweep, vacuum, and dust weekly. Wear a respirator to reduce your exposure to dust, pet dander, and mold spores, or ask someone else to complete these chores for you.
8. Buy an Air Purifier
Another way to keep your indoor air clean is to run a purifier. This traps dust, mold, smoke, and other allergens circulating through the air to help relieve your symptoms. Discuss your needs with your doctor or allergist, who may be able to recommend specific a product.
9. Buy a Nasal Irrigation System
Nasal rinses use saline solution to clean your sinuses and flush out germs before they take hold. Nasal irrigation is recommended for anyone with asthma, allergies, sinus infections, and other upper respiratory conditions. Make a point to buy a nasal irrigation system this year so you can take advantage of this natural way to manage your symptoms.
10. Stay Ahead of Seasonal Allergies
If you know you’ll start sneezing, coughing, and having itchy, watery eyes come spring, start taking your allergy medication three to four weeks in advance. This primes your system and makes your symptoms more manageable once the pollen arrives. Schedule reminders on your phone if you think you’ll forget to take medicine when you’re not experiencing any symptoms.
11. Get Your Annual Flu Shot
Flu season runs from October to May. If you haven’t gotten your shot by the start of the New Year, set a resolution to get it done before the end of January. This simple protective measure reduces your risk of catching the flu, which would only worsen your asthma and allergy symptoms.
12. Exercise More
The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise five days a week. Following this advice makes a great New Year’s resolution for anyone, but it’s especially beneficial if you have allergies or asthma. After all, exercising opens your airways and releases endorphins, which makes you feel better. It also boosts your immune system and helps you lose weight. Dropping a few pounds can make your asthma symptoms easier to control. Just remember, you may need to use your rescue inhaler before working out to prevent an exercise-induced asthma attack.
13. Adopt a Mediterranean Diet
Eating healthy is the other major factor for losing weight. Plus, foods high in antioxidants, vitamins C and E, and omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to benefit patients with asthma. As a result, you may want to start the New Year by following the Mediterranean diet. This involves eating more fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts, and olive oil. Of course, no foods can cure asthma and allergies, but good nutrition is essential for anyone managing a chronic medical condition.
14. Drink 8 Cups of Water per Day
Staying hydrated is critical for good health. In fact, every bodily function relies on adequate hydration. Drinking enough water also keeps your nasal passages and lungs from building up too much mucus. While each person’s ideal water intake varies slightly, you should aim to drink at least eight cups per day.
15. Go to Bed One Hour Earlier Than Usual
Getting enough rest boosts your immune system and increases your energy level. Sleep is also when your body heals the most. So if you average only six hours of shuteye every night, aim to go to sleep one hour earlier all year long. That extra hour could be just what your body needs to improve your allergy and asthma symptoms.
Do you have undiagnosed respiratory problems? Is your current asthma or allergy treatment plan not working for you? Rely on Allergy & Asthma SpecialistsSM to provide optimal treatment, from your initial diagnosis to your ongoing care. Please call 610-825-5800 today to request an appointment at one of eight convenient office locations in the Philadelphia area.
Food allergies affect about 50 million Americans. Some cases are so severe that they can be life-threatening. If you’re cooking for guests with wheat, dairy, or nut allergies, don’t stress—simply adjust your menu and food preparation techniques to help you host an allergy-free holiday dinner.
As soon as you find out one or more guests have food allergies, you can adjust your dinner menu accordingly. Planning ahead takes the stress out of preparing food when the big event arrives. Here’s what to do:
Communicate with Your Guests
Not all guests speak up about their allergies and preferences because they “don’t want to inconvenience you.” However, as a courteous host, you should contact all your guests and ask about any allergies. If the dinner is a potluck, remember to tell anyone contributing dishes about the allergies among the other guests.
Read Ingredient Labels
About 90% of all food allergies fall into one of these eight categories:
- Tree nut
It can be daunting to check ingredient labels for all potential allergens, so just keep your guests’ specific allergies in mind. Even if you’re confident a product is allergen-free, double-check the nutrition label. After all, a manufacturer may process nut-free cookies on the same machinery as peanuts. Contamination concerns like this should be identified on the label.
Try New Allergy-Free Holiday Recipes
You may have go-to favorites you return to year after year, but this is a good excuse to try out some new recipes. If you’re having trouble finding certain products without allergens, consider making your own from scratch. Use the following recipes and helpful hints to ensure your holiday dinner is safe, healthy, and fun for everyone in attendance:
There are plenty of allergy-free alternatives to the traditional cheese-and-cracker appetizer. Here are some ideas:
- Rice crackers topped with chutney, hummus, olives and roasted red pepper, or sunflower seed butter
- Wild mushroom tartlets
- Quinoa-stuffed mushrooms
- Baked sweet potato chips
No holiday dinner is complete without several tasty side dishes. Choose from these crowd-pleasers:
- Apple and orange slices
- Roasted vegetables drizzled with balsamic vinegar and Dijon mustard
- Mashed potatoes made with non-dairy milk
- Gluten-free stuffing
- Gluten-free gravy thickened with cornstarch
- Butternut squash or pumpkin soup
- Vegan green bean casserole
On to the main event! Ensure your guests enjoy allergy-free entrees by selecting poultry, ham, pork, lamb, or tofu made without marinades or sauces, which could contain allergens. To prevent skimping on flavor, create your own marinades with fresh herbs, orange juice, and lemon zest. Here are some allergy-free recipes to try:
- Honey lemon chicken
- Pepper-crusted beef tenderloin
- Skillet pork chops
- Glazed roast turkey breast
- Honey-baked ham
There are plenty of ways to satisfy your sweet tooth without worrying about food allergies. Here are some tasty ideas:
- Pumpkin pie with a gluten-free crust
- Pumpkin muffins made with tapioca starch and coconut flour
- Pineapple, apple, or berries dipped in melted, allergy-free chocolate chips
- Baked apples with cinnamon, dairy-free butter, and allspice
- Chocolate mousse with coconut milk and mashed avocado
- Eggless chocolate cookies
- Sugar cookies with coconut oil
- Gingerbread cookies made with dairy-free spread and quinoa flour
- Gluten-free apple pie
- Vegan cheesecake
Once you’ve picked out your recipes and bought all the ingredients you need, it’s time to get cooking! These tips can help ensure a smooth, stress-free process:
The kitchen can become a chaotic mess during holiday dinner prep. However, if you’re serving dishes designed to be allergen-free, you need to avoid cross-contamination. To do this, set up a safety zone to help limit allergens to a corner of the kitchen. Don’t mix utensils or cutting boards, and cover freshly cooked dishes to prevent stray allergens from drifting in.
Make Allergy-Free Dishes Ahead of Time
One effective way to avoid cross-contamination is to cook allergy-free dishes on a different day than the rest of your menu. Spread out your cooking a week or more in advance and freeze casseroles until the day of your holiday meal. Then, stick them in the oven when you’re ready to bake, being sure to allow for a longer cooking time. If you have fridge space, you can also fully prepare things like soups and pies one day ahead without impacting the taste.
Don’t let food allergies stop you from enjoying holiday dinners this season! If you or someone you know struggles to keep their allergies under control, reach out to Allergy & Asthma SpecialistsSM, the regions most experienced allergists for high risk food allergy testing and challenges. The team can help identify undiagnosed food allergies and offer care to reduce adverse reactions that impact your quality of life. To request an appointment at one of eight convenient office locations in Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs, please call 610-825-5800 today.