• When Pollen Counts Are High: How to Treat Hay Fever

    Hay fever is a miserable thing to experience. The runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, and itchiness in your nose, mouth, throat, eyes, or ears are actually symptoms of a pollen allergy known to experts as seasonal allergic rhinitis. It’s caused by pollen carried through the air, and when the pollen count is high, hay fever is at its worst. What can you do to combat it?

    • First, establish the specifics of your allergies. For most people with hayfever, grasses and weeds are the cause of their suffering. Ragweed is a major culprit, but there are many other sources of weed pollen, including sagebrush, pigweed, and tumbleweed. Trees like birch, cedar, and oak get into the act as well, producing pollen that’s highly allergenic. Your doctor can identify your specific allergies using a plastic skin testing applicator holding a drop of the allergen that is applied to your back. If you’re sensitive to that allergen, you’ll have a reaction as a hive within about 20 minutes, although a reaction does not necessarily mean you have the allergy. Your health care provider can interpret the results and let you know for sure
    • Keep track of pollen counts. If you monitor pollen counts in your area, you can limit your exposure on the days when the counts are high. Pollen counts are different than a pollen forecast because while a forecast is a prediction based on the previous year’s counts and current conditions, the counts are more specific. Measured with an instrument that collects spores for a 24-hour period, pollen counts are reported for specific trees, grasses, weeds, and mold.
    • If you can’t steer clear of pollen, do what you can to remove pollen from your home. During pollen season, keep your windows closed and use an air conditioning filter designed to help prevent asthma and allergies. Bathe and shower before you go to bed, so that you don’t carry pollen onto your bedding, and wash your bedding in hot soapy water once a week. Wear sunglasses and a hat when you’re outside, and limit your contact with pets who’ve been outdoors. After you’ve been outside, change and wash your clothes, and don’t hang your laundry out to dry, but dry it in a clothes dryer.
    • Make sure you’re taking the right medication in the right way. Typically, allergy medications work best if you use them proactively before your symptoms start. If you know you’re likely to come in contact with allergens, it’s smart to take your medication ahead of time to prevent the symptoms from becoming severe. In fact, you might even want to start taking your medication before pollen season begins. Your doctor can recommend the best medicine to combat your allergies, which may include antihistamines, decongestants, nasal corticosteroids, nasal spray, or leukotriene receptor antagonists.
    • If you don’t respond well to medications, and your allergies are still bothering you, an allergist can recommend further treatment. Allergy immunotherapy is a tried and true remedy for allergic reactions, and most people experience complete relief from symptoms within one to three years of starting immunotherapy, and long after discontinuing them. The physicians of Allergy & Asthma Specialists prescribe immunotherapy is three forms, injection, drops and tablet.

    Whatever the season, understanding your allergies and knowing how to manage them 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.

     

  • Triggers and Symptoms of Latex Allergies

    Does blowing up balloons leave you with itchy, swollen lips? Do Band-Aids irritate your skin? Do your hands feel raw after you do the dishes, even though you wear dishwashing gloves? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might have a latex allergy. Affecting about 6 percent of the population, a latex allergy is a reaction to proteins in natural rubber latex, which comes from the sap of the rubber tree. How do you know if you have this allergy, and how can you manage it if you are allergic to latex?

    When someone with a latex allergy comes into contact with latex, the body mistakes latex for a harmful substance. This only happens with natural latex, and not with synthetic rubber that’s made from chemicals. Things like latex house paint to do trigger latex allergies, but many common products do.

    Dishwashing gloves, balloons, rubber toys, hot water bottles, baby bottle nipples, rubber bands, erasers, swim goggles, bicycle and motorcycle handgrips, some types of carpeting and some disposable diapers are common items you might have around your home, but that you’d be better off avoiding if you have an allergy to latex. Medical supplies like blood pressure cuffs, stethoscopes, intravenous tubing, syringes, electrode pads, respirators, and surgical masks can all contain latex, as can condoms, diaphragms, and dental dams. What’s more, some fruits contain the same allergen that’s found in latex, so if you’re allergic to latex, you might also have a problem with avocado, bananas, chestnuts, kiwis, and passion fruit.

    The symptoms of a latex allergy can vary from mild to severe. If you have a latex allergy, you might experience itching, hives, redness and swelling, or a rash, but if your allergy is severe, you risk anaphylaxis, which can be life-threatening. You don’t even need to come into direct contact with latex to have an allergic reaction: some people experience severe asthma or even anaphylaxis just from breathing in airborne particles of latex protein.

    Some people are at higher risk of developing latex allergy than other people. If you are a healthcare worker or someone else who often wears latex gloves, if you’ve had many surgeries, if you are often exposed to natural rubber latex, or if you or your family members have other allergies, you’re more likely than others to develop an allergy to latex. The people at highest risk of latex allergy are those with spina bifida, a birth defect affecting the spine’s development. The risk is high because people with this condition are exposed to latex frequently and early in life while receiving health care.

    If you suspect you may be allergic to latex, a board-certified allergist can determine whether this is an accurate diagnosis, and help you develop a plan to manage it. Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, examine your skin, and perform a skin test to see how your skin reacts to the latex protein. You might also have a blood test to check for latex sensitivity.

    There’s no cure for latex allergy. There are medications that can reduce the symptoms, but the best way to avoid an allergic reaction to latex is to stay away from products that contain latex. Sometimes, it’s hard to avoid latex, so if you have ever had a severe reaction to latex, you may need to keep injectable epinephrine with you wherever you go. If you experience anaphylaxis, you should go to the emergency room for immediate treatment.

    Understanding 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.

  • Woof, woof, achoo! Hypoallergenic Dog Breeds

    It’s been said that a dog is man’s best friend, but if you suffer from allergies, you may find that friendship difficult. The good news? An allergy to pet dander does not have to keep you from enjoying the companionship of a dog. While no breed of dog is totally hypoallergenic, there are several breeds that cause fewer allergic reactions than other dogs.

    The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology estimates that about ten percent of the population of the United States is allergic to dogs. The allergic reactions that many people experience around dogs are actually to allergens in dog saliva and, more often, pet dander, which is the dog’s dead skin cells. Because dander is attached to fur, dogs that don’t shed very much are better for people who are allergic, and so are dogs that require frequent bathing. Dogs that produce less saliva, typically smaller dogs, can also be easier on the allergies.

    So what are the best dog breeds for allergy sufferers? There are several, and they come in all shapes and sizes.

    • Small dogs sometimes make the list by virtue of their size. A Yorkshire Terrier is an example of this. Other small dogs, however, cause fewer allergies their hair continually grows and doesn’t fall out. These dogs include the Bichon Frise and the Lhasa Apso. Sometimes, small dogs require frequent bathing, brushing, and other grooming, which keeps their allergen levels low. Examples of this include the Maltese, the Shih Tzu, and the Coton de Tulear.
    • Some dogs simply do not have very much hair to shed. These breeds include the Chinese Crested, the Peruvian Inca Orchid, the American Hairless Terrier, and the
    • Several terriers are considered good for those with allergies. The Bedlington Terrier, the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, and the Kerry Blue Terrier are all excellent choices.
    • Some “hypoallergenic” dogs come in a variety of sizes. Poodles are an example of this, as are Schnauzers, and all the different varieties of these dogs are good for those with allergies.
    • Whatever style of dog you like, you can probably find one that suits you and won’t aggravate your allergies. From the aloof and dignified Afghan Hound, to the energetic, funny Irish Water Spaniel, to the athletic, intelligent Portuguese Water Dog, a close relative of the Poodle, to the hardworking, protective Spanish Water Dog, there are low-allergen dogs to suit every family and lifestyle.

    No matter which kind of dog you choose, you can also help keep allergens at bay with some careful housekeeping. Wash your pet’s bed often, keep him well groomed, and even if you want to let him sleep with you, stick to a firm “no dogs on the bed” policy. Removing heavy drapes and carpets can also be helpful because those things tend to trap dander.

    Understanding your allergies can help you live a healthy, symptom-free life. When you call 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.

  • 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.

  • Symptoms of an Allergic Reaction to Medication

    When you visit a hospital or doctor’s office, you will probably be asked if you have any drug allergies, or allergies to any medications. This is an important question, because medications that do cause you to have an allergic reaction can pose a dangerous situation in your treatment with a wide range of potential symptoms.

    Like other allergies, there is a risk of anaphylaxis in severe cases. This is a life-threatening reaction that can cause difficulty breathing and severe inflammation. Drug allergies may also cause symptoms such as:

    • Hives, which are usually accompanied by itching.
    • A sudden drop in blood pressure.
    • Wheezing or coughing.

    Usually the symptoms of an allergic reaction to medication will occur suddenly and should be managed with emergency care.

    If you have experienced a medication allergy, you should work with an allergy doctor to manage this allergic reaction and understand your treatment alternatives. Allergy & Asthma Specialists SM can provide complete allergy care with patient education from our compassionate providers serving Blue Bell, Lansdale, Philadelphia, Jenkintown, Pottstown, King of Prussia, and Collegeville, Pennsylvania. You can reach us online or at 1(800)86-COUGH.

  • Get the Truth Behind Common Myths About Food Allergies

    Sometimes, the food we eat isn’t always agreeable with our bodies, and adverse reactions occur. Food intolerances, such as the lactose in milk, can be physically uncomfortable but are not allergies. However, a milk allergy can cause a life-threatening reaction.  Allergic reactions to specific foods occur when the immune system mistakenly identifies a food as a harmful substance and triggers an immune response in the body. Unfortunately, food allergies can often go undiagnosed and misunderstood, posing a significant health threat to those who suffer from them. Here we’ll take a look at some common myths about food allergies so that you have the right information to guide your allergy treatment.

    Myth: Food allergies are all in the mind.

    These days, it seems that everyone has some type of dietary restriction, from avoiding gluten to lactose intolerance to not eating meat. While some of these dietary limitations have medical causes, others are brought on by nutrition fads. Food allergies do sometimes get lumped in with diet fads, so people assume that they aren’t a real concern because they are all in the mind. However, the symptoms of food allergies are all too real, and they won’t go away with just a strong will.

    Myth: Artificial foods are responsible for most food allergies.

    Another common misconception about food allergies is that they can be avoided by simply following an all-natural diet free of artificial flavoring agents and food dyes. In reality, most food allergies are caused by proteins in foods, so even whole, natural foods can be problematic. About 90% of food allergies are caused by these common foods:

    • Peanuts
    • Soy
    • Wheat
    • Cow’s milk
    • Eggs
    • Tree nuts
    • Fish
    • Shellfish

    Myth: Food allergies are always severe.

    Like any other type of allergies, food allergies range in severity. The quantity of the allergenic food consumed will affect the reaction, and for some people food allergies will actually go away or worsen over time, so the severity of a reaction is not always predictable.

    Symptoms of Food Allergy can be sudden and severe and commonly include one or more of the following:

    • Hives or swelling
    • Tingling in the mouth
    • Swelling of the tongue and throat
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Abdominal Cramps
    • Vomiting or diarrhea
    • Eczema or Rash
    • Coughing or wheezing
    • Loss of consciousness
    • Dizziness

    Food allergy symptoms typically begin immediately but may be delayed up to 2 hours of ingestion of the offending food.

    Living with food allergies can be scary, especially with so much misinformation out there. The allergists of Allergy & Asthma Specialists are the region’s authority on food allergy testing and challenges. Our offices serve the communities of center city Philadelphia, Blue Bell, King of Prussia, Jenkintown, Doylestown, Lansdale, Pottstown, and Collegeville, Pennsylvania, and you can reach us for an appointment online or at 1-800-86COUGH.

  • Back 2 School: Preparing for Allergies During the Academic Year [INFOGRAPHIC]

    Summer’s over, and the kids are heading back to school! You’ve picked up their school supplies, picked out their new clothes, and scheduled their extracurricular activities, but are you forgetting something? What’s the plan for all the allergies? While your children may have been healthy and happy all summer, school is a whole different ballgame. From the classroom to the playground to the cafeteria, school can be a virtual minefield of allergens and contaminants that make life difficult for kids with allergies or asthma. Aside from homeschooling, what can you do? First, make sure you’ve got the right allergy doctor to help manage and treat your child’s allergies and asthma. Next, determine the best ways to protect your kids at school, making sure they and their teachers know what to expect and how to manage any problems that arise. To help you make a plan, we’ve created this infographic, with helpful tips on getting ready for back to school allergies.

  • Understanding Latex Allergies

    A latex allergy is a type of allergy that happens when your immune system reacts badly to some of the proteins in rubber latex. This allergy is common among people who work in hospitality, health care, or other industries that involve frequent contact with latex. People with spina bifida may also be more likely to have a latex allergy. To learn more about latex allergies, watch this video from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

    When you’re in need of capable treatment for your allergies, contact Allergy & Asthma Specialists SM . Offices are located in Center City Philadelphia, King of Prussia, Blue Bell, Jenkintown, Doylestown, Lansdale, Collegeville and Pottstown. To schedule an appointment at an Allergy & Asthma Specialists SM location near you, call 1-800-86COUGH ext 2 or visit their website today.

  • Can You Co-Exist with a Pet if You Have Allergies?

    pet allergies

    If you have a pet allergy, you may wonder if it’s possible for you to have a pet in your home. Fortunately, it’s entirely possible for you to indulge your love of animals while still protecting yourself from suffering from constant allergy symptoms. If you’re allergic to cats and dogs but still want to have them as pets, you should keep them out of your bedroom and off your furniture as much as possible. Vacuum frequently to prevent pet hair from accumulating anywhere in your house. You might consider purchasing an air purifier to keep your indoor air as free of allergens as possible.

    If you’re looking to find relief from your allergies, consult with the specialists at Allergy & Asthma Specialists SM . Our team has been providing allergy services for Philadelphia, Lansdale, Blue Bell, Collegeville, Pottstown, Doylestown, Jenkintown, and King of Prussia for nearly three decades. To reach us today, call 1(800)86-COUGH.

  • Could You Be Suffering from Oral Allergy Syndrome?

    Have you ever felt as if your throat were raw or sore after eating? If so, there’s a possibility that you might have a condition known as oral allergy syndrome. If you suspect that you have any of the symptoms of an allergy, it’s important to consult a board certified allergist. Here is what you need to know about oral allergy syndrome—and how you can tell if you might have it.

    What is oral allergy syndrome?
    Oral allergy syndrome is a condition characterized by an immune reaction to the proteins in certain foods, or in pollen. It is most frequently found in older children, teenagers, and younger adults. People who already have allergic reactions to pollen are more likely to be diagnosed with oral allergy syndrome.

    What foods can trigger oral allergy syndrome?
    The types of foods that can cause allergic reactions differ depending on what type of pollen a person is allergic to. Individuals who have a ragweed allergy may also be allergic to bananas, zucchini, and sunflower seeds, while people with an allergy to grass may react badly to peaches, melons, or tomatoes. Finally, those who are allergic to birch pollen may have allergic reactions to foods such as celery, carrots, and almonds.

    How is oral allergy syndrome treated?
    For many people, the best option is to avoid trigger foods as much as possible. In many cases, cooking the foods will stop them from acting as allergens, as the heat affects the proteins. The physicians of Allergy & Asthma Specialists can evaluate and test you for oral allergy syndrome and advise you as to how you can best treat the condition.

    If you believe that you may have undiagnosed allergies that are affecting your life, Allergy & Asthma Specialists SM can help. Offices are located in Center City Philadelphia, Doylestown, Lansdale, King of Prussia, Blue Bell, Jenkintown, Collegeville, and Pottstown. Schedule an appointment online at our website or call 800-86COUGH, extension 2.