• Staying in Shape with Asthma

    It’s a catch-22 with which most people with asthma can identify: regular exercise is important for those with asthma, yet exercise can also trigger an asthma attack. How can you maintain a healthy, active lifestyle when exercise causes you to cough, wheeze, and have difficulty breathing? Good news! Your allergist can help you come up with a plan to manage your asthma while remaining active.

    Exercise can trigger asthma symptoms, so is it safe to exercise with asthma? Yes. In fact, there are many benefits to exercising if you have asthma. Regular exercise helps your heart and lungs work better, boosts your immune system, helps you lose weight, and create chemicals in your body that make you feel good, helping to ward off stress and depression.

    Short bursts of exertion, like the kind you get when playing volleyball or baseball, or participating in gymnastics or wrestling, are good for people with asthma. Walking, biking, hiking are also beneficial, and swimming is particularly good because it helps build upper-body strength and gives you an opportunity to breathe in warm, moist air. It may be harder for you to do things that require long periods of exertion, like soccer, basketball, field hockey, and distance running. Cold weather sports like ice hockey, cross-country skiing, and ice skating, may be even more challenging. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t take part in these activities if you have asthma.

    Before you start any exercise program, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor. An experienced asthma doctor can help you determine the best exercises for you, and prescribe asthma medications that you may find helpful. People with asthma often benefit from taking a short-acting bronchodilator about 15 minutes before they begin exercising. Your doctor can also advise you on the best practices to observe when exercising with asthma.

    • People with asthma may need to be mindful of the temperature, allergens, air quality, and pollution. If it’s very cold out, you may want to exercise indoors or wear a mask or scarf over your nose and mouth. If allergies trigger your asthma, pay attention to pollen counts and air pollution counts, refraining from exercising outdoors when they’re high. It’s also a good practice to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, to help filter the air and keep from triggering your asthma.
    • If you have asthma, it’s important to avoid overexerting yourself. Always warm up before you exercise, and include a cool-down routine in your exercise plan. Don’t exercise when you’re sick, and pay attention to your level of exertion, to make sure you’re exercising at a pace that’s right for you. Aim for an exercise routine that includes at least 30 minutes of exercise, four to five days a week.
    • Talk to your doctor about exercise-induced bronchoconstriction. Also known as exercise-induced asthma, this just refers to the constriction of your airways during exercise that can cause asthma symptoms. If you’re experiencing exercise-induced bronchoconstriction, you may cough, wheeze, and experience chest tightness and shortness of breath. Your doctor can help you with an asthma treatment plan that includes instructions for how to handle this kind of problem. You might need to use your rescue inhalers or, in extreme cases, seek emergency medical attention.

    Having a plan in place will allow you to live confidently, knowing your asthma is under control. When you call an experienced asthma doctor, you can be confident that your doctor will find the solutions you need to manage your asthma. At Allergy & Asthma Specialists SM, both fast acting and long-term treatments are available while providing safe, effective medical care focused on controlling asthma in a comfortable environment. Call 610-825-5800 or visit the website for an appointment, or to learn more about available services.

  • A Look at How Asthma Can Affect Your Vocal Cords

    Many patients with asthma also suffer from vocal cord dysfunction (VCD). While the two problems can overlap, they are separate medical conditions. People with VCD experience the closing in of one or both vocal cords upon inhaling. This can lead to symptoms similar to asthma, such as shortness of breath, throat tightness, and wheezing. One of the key differences between VCD and asthma is that when VCD is triggered, patients primarily have trouble breathing in, as opposed to breathing out. Asthma specialists may consider a diagnosis of VCD when a patient’s asthma is not well-controlled or when exercise-induced symptoms are not responding to treatment.

     

    To diagnose VCD, the asthma doctor may use a laryngoscopy or video stroboscopy to examine the vocal folds. Abnormal movements, swelling, inflammation, and irritation are all signs of VCD. Patients with both asthma and VCD must learn to differentiate the two sets of symptoms to determine when to use an asthma inhaler and when to use breathing exercises to treat VCD.

     

    For compassionate care for cases both simple and complex, you can turn to Allergy & Asthma SpecialistsSM in Blue Bell, Lansdale, Philadelphia, Jenkintown, Pottstown, Doylestown, King of Prussia, or Collegeville, Pennsylvania. Use the online appointment scheduler tool at www.AllergyandAsthmaWellness.com or call 1-800-86COUGH to request an appointment with a board-certified asthma specialist.

     

  • Pretty but Painful: Flowers to Avoid

    They’re beautiful, fragrant, and a symbol of love and devotion. Unfortunately, for many people, flowers are a trigger for allergic reactions. Is there a solution? Yes! You can still enjoy flowers, and give flowers to your allergic loved ones, as long as you know which flowers to avoid.

    The flowers to avoid if you have allergies are the ones that are big pollen producers. These flowers include daisies, chamomile, chrysanthemums, goldenrod, and sunflowers. Even when working with flowers that aren’t bad for people with allergies, make sure to do a test run if you’re using them for something really important, like a wedding.

    Some of the best choices for allergy sufferers are also some of the most beautiful flowers and plants.

    • Hydrangeas come in a variety of colors and have big, beautiful blooms. They’re elegant, pollen-free, and available all year round!
    • Lilies are also a stunning option that’s pollen-free. They come in colors from pastel to bright, so it’s easy to find some that you love. Be careful, though, if you’re sensitive to fragrance. Oriental and Stargazer lilies are intensely fragrant and give some people a headache.
    • Geraniums are perfect in pots and gardens. They are very hardy and come in a range of colors that includes blue, pink and magenta, and have lush green foliage.
    • Tulips are beautiful potted or in a colorful bouquet. These allergy-free flowers are available year-round and come in a wide range not only of colors but also of varieties.
    • Carnations are simple but lovely. Their ruffled, ball-shaped blooms are a great complement to showier flowers, and they won’t trigger your allergies.
    • Daffodils are not pollen-free, but they’re considered hypoallergenic. Available in the spring, these cheerful, bright, yellow flowers produce less pollen than most and are typically pollinated by insects instead of the wind. If you’ve got allergies, it’s fine to accept an arrangement with daffodils, but you probably shouldn’t handle them.
    • Hyacinths are also seasonal beauties. Available from May to December, they have a vase life of eight days and pair beautifully with other spring flowers. They have low levels of pollen, but the fragrance can cause irritation if you’re sensitive to it.
    • Orchids aren’t pollen-free, but their pollen is sticky and unlikely to become airborne. They look amazing in tropical arrangements, and they’re available year-round.
    • Peonies have big, gorgeous blossoms in colors like blush, cream, white, pink, and red. They’re seasonal, blooming from April into June, and don’t trigger allergies.
    • Roses are the old standby, a very popular option, and they’re available in every season. It might surprise you to learn that they’re hypoallergenic as well, and have a vase life of 5-8 days.
    • Snapdragons add height and texture to arrangements. They make a beautiful focal point, come in a wide variety of colors, and are a low-allergen flower.
    • Irises are another low-allergen springtime flower. They come in blues, white, and yellow, and have a vase life of six days.

    Knowing what does and does not trigger your allergies can help you live a healthy, symptom-free life. When you enlist the help of an experienced, board-certified allergist, you can be confident that your doctor will help you find the solutions you need to manage your allergies. At Allergy & Asthma Specialists SM, all physicians are board-certified in allergy and immunology, and 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 about available services.

  • Understanding How to Use an EpiPen

    EpiPens are commonly prescribed for emergency allergy treatment. There are two versions of the EpiPen. When you watch the featured video, you’ll see a demonstration of using both the branded EpiPen and the generic version. For either version, you’ll remove it from the case first. The branded EpiPen has a blue safety shield that you’ll need to remove. If you’re using the generic version, remove the safety devices from both ends.

    Then, swiftly and firmly plunge the device into the outer thigh. It may take a fair amount of force to penetrate the patient’s jeans and thigh muscle. Remember to always call 911 immediately after administering an EpiPen. Inform the dispatcher that you’ve just administered it. The patient will also need to follow up with his or her allergy doctor.

     

    You can receive comprehensive guidance on managing allergies and treating allergic reactions when you see a board-certified allergist at Allergy & Asthma SpecialistsSM. Schedule an appointment online at www.AllergyandAsthmaWellness.com or call 1-800-86COUGH to request a visit with an allergy doctor serving Blue Bell, Lansdale, Philadelphia, Jenkintown, Pottstown, Doylestown, King of Prussia, or Collegeville, Pennsylvania.

  • Asthma Treatments: Which is Best for You? [INFOGRAPHIC]

    Having a plan in place will allow you to live confidently, knowing your asthma is under control. When you call an experienced asthma doctor , you can be confident that your doctor will find the solutions you need to manage your asthma. At Allergy & Asthma Specialists SM, both fast acting and long-term treatments are available while providing safe, effective medical care focused on controlling asthma in a comfortable environment. Call 610-825-5800 or visit the website for an appointment, or to learn more about our available services.

  • How to Manage Allergies When Studying Abroad

    If you’ve been living with food allergies for a while, you’ve likely developed a workable routine for dealing with them at home. But things can get trickier if you’re planning to study abroad. You’ll need to take extra precautions, starting with scheduling a consult with your allergy doctor.

     

    Practice your language skills.

    If you’re planning to study abroad in a country in which English is not the predominant language, you’ll need to learn a few key phrases. Learn how to say “I am allergic to” your allergen. You should also learn related words. For example, if you’re allergic to eggs, you should learn the words for yolk and mayonnaise so you can more easily avoid those ingredients. Even with this precaution, it’s still a good idea to carry a “chef card” with you. It should specify your allergy and your dietary requirements in the foreign language.

     

    Research the national cuisine.

    It’s helpful to have a general understanding of the national cuisine ahead of time. Learn which ingredients are typically used in the most common dishes so that you’ll know which are safe and which are off-limits. For example, you might learn that in Italy, eggs are not typically used for thin pastas such as spaghetti. Of course, you’ll still need to check food labels or talk to the waiter to make sure you can safely eat a particular item.

     

    Make arrangements for your medical care.

    Your current allergy doctor can send you off with extra allergy medications, including EpiPens. However, since you’ll be in a foreign country for at least a semester, you’ll also need to find a local doctor. Look for one who specializes in allergy management and contact their office in advance of your trip. You should also know where the nearest ER is, just in case.

     

    For specialized medical care for allergies and asthma, you can schedule an appointment online at www.AllergyandAsthmaWellness.com or call 1-800-86COUGH. Board-certified allergists/immunologists comprise the whole physician staff at Allergy & Asthma SpecialistsSM. Appointments with an allergy doctor are available in Blue Bell, Lansdale, Philadelphia, Jenkintown, Pottstown, Doylestown, King of Prussia, or Collegeville, Pennsylvania.

  • FAQs About Pet Allergies

    It’s possible to develop allergies at any point in life, from childhood through adulthood. If you’ve suddenly begun sniffling and sneezing, and your symptoms seem to get worse when you’re near the family pet, it may be time to book an appointment with an allergy doctor. A test will determine whether you’re allergic to your pet, and the allergy specialist can help you learn about your treatment and management options.

     

    How can I tell if I’m allergic to pets?

    If you’re allergic to pets, your symptoms may develop while you’re in the animal’s presence or shortly afterward. It’s possible for your symptoms to linger for quite a while, particularly if you stay in the same setting. This is because the dander can linger in the air or on objects, such as furniture or your clothing. The typical symptoms of pet allergies include sneezing, a runny nose, congestion, and itchy, watery eyes.

     

    What am I allergic to in my pet?

    It’s a common misconception that pet allergies are triggered by exposure to the pet’s fur. Actually, it’s a specific protein in the dander, skin flakes, urine, or saliva that can trigger allergic symptoms. However, if the pet goes outdoors, it’s also possible that pollen or mold spores can collect on the animal’s fur, which can cause allergic reactions.

     

    Which pets are hypoallergenic?

    It’s widely thought that short-hair dogs and cats that shed very little are hypoallergenic. Unfortunately, there are no breeds that are completely hypoallergenic. The amount of shedding and the length of fur don’t make a difference.

     

    Will I need to give up my pet?

    Not necessarily. Pets are part of the family, and you will surely want to do everything possible to keep them in the family home. Talk to a board-certified allergy doctor about your options. It may be possible to effectively manage your symptoms without having to give up your beloved pet.

     

    When it’s time to see a board-certified allergy doctor, you can turn to the trusted team at Allergy & Asthma SpecialistsSM. Learn how to effectively manage your pet-related allergies during your appointment in Blue Bell, Lansdale, Philadelphia, Jenkintown, Pottstown, Doylestown, King of Prussia, or Collegeville, Pennsylvania. You can arrange an appointment online at www.AllergyandAsthmaWellness.com or call 1-800-86COUGH.

  • Allergy & Asthma Tips for Summer Vacation

    If you have a fun-filled summer vacation planned, you might be worried that your allergy and asthma symptoms could get in the way. After all, you may be quite good at avoiding your triggers at home, but new environments can be unpredictable. Bid a fond farewell to sneezing, coughing, watery eyes, and asthma attacks while traveling by following these tips.

    • Consider your timing: Think about the potential allergens at the destinations you’re considering and time your visit right. For instance, if you’re allergic to ragweed, traveling earlier in the summer could be better than waiting until August.
    • Consider your location: If you’re sensitive to poor air quality, Mexico City and Beijing are out of the question. If mold triggers your symptoms, it may not be wise to go camping. And if you’re set off by pollen, you should avoid Washington DC during the cherry blossom bloom.
    • Pack your allergy and asthma medications: Keep quick-relief medicine close at hand, including your inhaler if you have asthma, as well as your regular preventative medicine.
    • Speak with your allergist: Discuss the types of activities you plan on doing and ask for advice. For instance, high elevations, cold weather, and scuba diving could trigger an asthma attack, so make sure what you’re planning is safe.
    • Make sure medical care is available: In case you have an emergency, you want to know a doctor is available. This is important to look into if you’re staying in a remote location, traveling abroad, or going on a cruise.
    • Prepare to travel by car: Taking a road trip? Try to do most of your traveling in the early morning or late evening hours when air quality is better and traffic is lighter. Renting a car? Ask for one where no one has smoked cigarettes. No matter what car you drive, keep the windows rolled up and use the AC.
    • Prepare to travel by plane: Take an antihistamine before you board, and use a saline spray once every hour to keep your nasal cavities moist in the dry air. Also, drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated, and avoid alcohol.
    • Prepare to travel by train: Ask if animals are allowed on board. If so, request to be seated several rows away. Ask if smoking is permitted. If so, find out if you can book a seat in the nonsmoking section. Then, find out if it’s okay to pre-board so you can wipe down your seating area.
    • Reduce allergy and asthma symptoms at your hotel: Request a nonsmoking, pet-free room located away from the parking lot and pool where car fumes and harsh chemicals could waft inside. Then, ask if any allergy-friendly accommodations are available with hypoallergenic mattresses and pillow covers, special cleaning products, and portable air cleaners with HEPA filters.

    Need more help getting your summer allergies under control? Contact Allergy & Asthma SpecialistsSM at 610-825-5800. We have eight locations in the Philadelphia area where you can schedule an appointment.

  • Breaking Down Myths About Stinging Insect Allergies

    Stinging insect allergies can be dangerous, and misconceptions about these kinds of allergies can put people at risk. If you have an allergy to a stinging insect, it is best to consult with an allergy doctor to settle on a course of treatment that meets your needs.

    Watch this video to learn more about stinging insect allergies and the myths that surround them. If your allergy doctor confirms that you have a systemic allergy to stinging insects, you may need to carry an epinephrine injector to avoid anaphylaxis.

     

    If you’re concerned about allergy symptoms, make an appointment with Allergy & Asthma Specialists. There are offices located in Philadelphia, Blue Bell, King of Prussia, Jenkintown, Doylestown, Lansdale, Pottstown and Collegeville, Pennsylvania. Schedule an appointment today online at allergyandasthmawellness.com or by calling 1-800-86COUGH.

  • Creating a Plan to Manage Food Allergies at Work

    Food allergies require vigilant management, which can be easier to deal with at home than out in the real world. When you’re at work, dangers can abound, especially when people in your office are unaware of your condition or what it takes to manage it. At work—or anywhere outside your home where you expect to spend a significant amount of time—it’s important not to leave things to chance but instead to have a plan for dealing with your allergies. At the office, these strategies for creating a plan can help.

     

    Decide Who Needs to Know

    Some people don’t mind discussing their food allergies with others, while others prefer to remain as private as possible. Generally, it is a good idea to tell your supervisor about your allergies, so that he or she is aware of the accommodations you need and that you may need time off for doctor’s appointments and other parts of your care plan. Although you may decide not to share information about your allergy with everyone at work, consider telling people who you need to be aware of the potential for a dangerous allergic reaction, such as those who share a food prep or storage area or cubicle with you. Your co-workers can help you avoid exposure to your allergens if they are aware of the issue.

     

    Invite Open Communication

    There are many myths and misconceptions about food allergies that people who have never dealt with them have. Inviting open communication about your allergies and making sure that your co-workers feel like they are able to ask questions is a great way to get them involved in making the office a safe space for you and also dispelling myths they may believe about allergies.

     

    Know Your Rights

    You have a right to reasonable workplace accommodations for your food allergies, so don’t shy away from asking for them. Food allergies are addressed in the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, so you have a legal right to ask for these accommodations.

     

    The allergy doctors at Allergy & Asthma Specialists can also help make a plan for dealing with allergies at work. We have allergy clinic locations in Blue Bell, Lansdale, Philadelphia, Jenkintown, Pottstown, King of Prussia, or Collegeville, Pennsylvania. Schedule an appointment online at www.​AllergyandAsthmaWellness.​com or call 1-800-86COUGH.