• 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Can Allergies and Asthma Affect Your Workouts? [INFOGRAPHIC]

    Whether you are an elite athlete, a weekend warrior, or just getting into an exercise routine, you need to be able to breathe in order to perform at your peak. If you have allergies or asthma, you may experience shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, or wheezing—especially when you are working out. Your body and muscles need oxygen to keep working properly, but if your breathing is hindered, it can mean you have to slow down or stop exercising altogether. By visiting an allergy doctor near Philadelphia who also specializes in asthma, you may be able to pinpoint the causes of your breathing issues and treat them accordingly. Take a look at this infographic to understand how allergies and asthma can affect your workouts. Please share with your friends and fellow exercise enthusiasts.

  • What’s the Link Between Asthma and Cockroaches?

    Cockroaches are a frequently overlooked asthma trigger. If you see an asthma specialist, he or she may ask you about pest control in your home and your exposure to cockroaches to determine if these pests are exacerbating your symptoms. A recent study published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology has demonstrated the link between asthma and cockroaches once again.

    The study, which was conducted in low-income households with asthmatic children in New Orleans, tested the impact of pest control and cockroach reduction on asthma symptoms. The children in the homes that received pest control and successfully eliminated cockroach infestations had better lung function, fewer days with asthma symptoms, and needed fewer healthcare interventions for their asthma.

    Managing asthma is complex, but with the right asthma specialist and treatments, you can get relief for your symptoms. Schedule an appointment at Allergy & Asthma Specialists SM to get the care you need. Call 800-86-Cough to make an appointment, or visit our website to learn more about our asthma specialists in Philadelphia, Blue Bell, King of Prussia, Jenkintown, Doylestown, Lansdale, Collegeville, or Pottstown, Pennsylvania.

  • Identifying Common Household Asthma Triggers

    For asthma sufferers, triggers can be anywhere. Identifying what triggers your symptoms will help you and your asthma specialist make treatment decisions to keep your condition under control. A surprising number of asthma triggers can lurk inside your home, and by controlling your exposure to them, you can reduce the number and severity of the symptoms you experience. Here are some common triggers that could be in your home right now.

    Secondhand Smoke

    One of the most dangerous triggers for people with asthma is smoke. Secondhand smoke is extremely aggravating and can not only intensify symptoms like wheezing but can also lead to an asthma attack. Don’t allow anyone to smoke in your home, ever. Anyone who lives in the household who smokes should do so outside or talk to his or her doctor about quitting. Other types of smoke, such as that generated by wood fires, can also trigger asthma symptoms, so avoid wood burning fireplaces.

    Scented Products

    Anything that contains scent can be problematic for people who have asthma. This can include things like scented candles, hand soaps, laundry detergent, and cleaning products. When you choose room deodorizers and cleaning products, pick unscented varieties. Some people with asthma are able to tolerate certain scented products or only react to specific scents. If you know which products work and which don’t, then you can choose accordingly if you prefer to use products with scents.

    Dust

    Dust is a major contributor to asthma symptoms. Vacuum rugs and upholstered furniture regularly, or even better, remove carpeting and have hardwood floors instead. Wood furniture and other surfaces should be dusted at least weekly. Dust can also be trapped in your HVAC system and circulated throughout the home. Change air filters regularly to reduce the amount of dust in your indoor air.

    Mold

    Molds can trigger asthma. Molds are microscopic organisms that thrive in moist, damp places. The most common indoor sites of mold growth are bathroom walls and shower curtains, window moldings, basements and carpets.

    Let an asthma specialist at Allergy & Asthma Specialists SM help you get better control of your symptoms by identifying your triggers and learning environmental control measures for alleviating those triggers. Making an appointment is easy. Please visit us online or call 1(800) 86-COUGH to make an appointment with an asthma doctor in Philadelphia, Blue Bell, King of Prussia, Jenkintown, Doylestown, Lansdale, Pottstown, or Collegeville, Pennsylvania.

  • How Allergens Affect Your Body

    Everyone is familiar with allergies, but most people don’t really know how allergens cause the reactions that they do. When you see an allergy doctor, he or she provides treatment that stops the way your body reacts to an allergen. Watch this video to learn more.

    When you have an allergy, your body sees the allergen as an invader that must be neutralized to protect your health. Among the substances released by the immune system to deal with the allergen is histamine, which can cause runny eyes and nose, atopic dermatitis, and other symptoms. For this reason, antihistamines are a popular allergy treatment.

    Don’t let your allergen stop you from enjoying life. Get the treatment you need at Allergy & Asthma Specialists℠. Find an allergy doctor across the area in Blue Bell, King of Prussia, Philadelphia, Jenkintown, Doylestown, Lansdale, Pottstown, or Collegeville, by visiting www.AllergyandAsthmaWellness.com or calling Allergy & Asthma Specialists℠ at 1-800-86COUGH, extension 2.