• Halloween Candy Tips for Kids with Food Allergies

    Halloween can be a great time for family fun, with tasty treats and spooky scares! Unfortunately, for many children with allergies, the scariest part of Halloween can be the risks found in their trick or treat bags. How can you have a fun and safe Halloween when the treats seem like tricks. We’ve got some tips for how to manage the holiday and make it fun and safe despite your child’s allergies.

    • Many Halloween candies contain common allergens like peanuts, tree nuts, milk, egg, soy, and wheat. That’s why it’s important for families with children who are allergic to teach their kids to wait until they get home to eat any candy. If your children have allergies, teach them how to politely refuse homemade treats and that they should never share another child’s treats.
    • No children should trick or treat alone, but it’s especially important for kids with allergies to be accompanied by an adult. Adults should also make sure they’re well prepared for the evening, with an epi-pen and fully charged cell phones in case they need to call 911. Refill any prescriptions in advance of the holiday so that you’re not left without an epi-pen at a crucial moment.
    • Here’s something that might surprise you: fun-sized Halloween candy may not be the same as the regular-sized treats. Sometimes the smaller sizes are made with slightly different ingredients, or they could be made on different machinery and exposed to different allergens. Even if you’re familiar and comfortable with certain brands of candy, it’s extremely important to read the labels before allowing your child to eat the candy.
    • Of course, trick or treating isn’t the only way kids celebrate Halloween. If your children are in school or daycare, make sure the teachers are aware of their allergies and know what to do in case of emergency. When you know there’s going to be a Halloween celebration or event, go over safety rules with your child in advance.
    • Look for alternatives to celebrating with food. Host a scary movie party, carve pumpkins with friends, or do some Halloween crafts. Just because it’s Halloween, that doesn’t mean you have to load the kids up with sugar.
    • Consider participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project. It’s easy to do! Just display a teal pumpkin on your porch and hand out non-food, safe, treats. Glow sticks, stickers, small toys, pencils, and more options can make Halloween both fun and safe for all the kids in your neighborhood. You can even hand out candy as well. Just keep the non-food treats in a teal pumpkin or bowl and the candies in a separate container. Be careful about the non-food items you’re distributing, making sure they’re also latex-free and don’t contain allergens like wheat.

    You can make Halloween a fun holiday, even if your child has allergies! If you suspect your child has food allergies, an experienced, board-certified allergist can help you determine how to manage this condition. 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.

  • Tired of Coughing, Snoring or Clearing Your Throat?

    Do frequent coughing spells exhaust you? Is your family annoyed at your constant throat clearing?  Does your significant other wish you did not snore? And what is that snorting sound you make with your nose?

    These symptoms can all be the noisy consequences of poorly controlled allergies, medically called Allergic Rhinitis.

    Allergic rhinitis occurs when your immune system overreacts to a substance that may be harmless to others. These substances, known as allergens, can be pollen, organisms found in dust, mold, or animal dander.

    Release the histamines

    If you come into contact with allergens and you are allergic, your immune system considers it dangerous and releases a chemical called histamine. You body’s intention is to keep you safe but the over-reaction causes allergy symptoms. When your body comes across an allergy trigger, your immune system launches a chain reaction to defend you.

    First, it sends a chemical signal to cells in your lungs, nose, mouth, gut, and blood. The message is, “Release histamines,” which are stored in certain cells.

    As histamine leaves these cells, it boosts blood flow in the area of your body the allergen affected. This causes inflammation.

    The irritation of it all

    If your nose is affected, histamines infect the membranes causing more mucus to be produced. You can get a runny or stuffy nose. And you’ll sneeze. You may get itchy eyes. The mucus drains down your nasal passages to your throat, making you cough. You snort, a lot. The inflammation caused by the histamine further narrows your nasal passages. As the nasal congestion persists, sinus disease, sore throat, and post nasal drip develop causing chronic coughing. Eventually you live with sleep apnea, snoring, and chronic fatigue.

    What to do?

    The first impulse for many allergy sufferers is to go to the pharmacy and try to figure out the antihistamine-decongestant combination that will work for you.  With so many options, this can be futile and expensive. You can also deal with side effects of these medications that make you feel worse, such as nervousness, dry mouth, drowsiness, high blood pressure, high blood pressure, or constipation.

    The more effective first step is to make an appointment with a board certified allergist. The most important step in treating your allergy symptoms is to identify your allergy triggers by skin testing (without needles). Once the cause is identified, a treatment plan including lifestyle changes will be discussed. A treatment plan may be a simple as identifying the right medication or tips on avoiding the allergen. This can all be accomplished in one appointment with the allergist.

    Improved quality of life

    Individuals who have suffered long term with allergic rhinitis often don’t realize how much better they can feel.  Most patients who have their allergies properly diagnosed find an improved quality of life as a result.

    If you suspect you may have undiagnosed allergic rhinitis, it is advisable to get tested as soon as possible. Allergy & Asthma SpecialistsSM offers asthma screening and treatment to help you manage your condition successfully. To request an appointment at one of eight convenient office locations in the Philadelphia area, please call 610-825-5800 today.