• 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Examining Different Types of Asthma

    Asthma is a single condition that is characterized by chronic inflammation of the airway that causes difficulty breathing, wheezing, and chest tightness. When discussing the different types of asthma, this refers to the various triggers that may cause asthma flare-ups when these symptoms occur. Here is a look at the most common types of asthma, which should all be managed and treated under the care of a board-certified asthma and allergy doctor.

    Allergy-Induced Asthma

    Allergies and asthma go hand in hand, and many asthma sufferers will have a number of known allergies, often including cockroach and dust mite allergies, pet dander allergies, seasonal pollen allergies, and mold allergies. When an allergic reaction occurs from these or other allergenic substances, people with allergy-induced asthma will experience a reaction in the airway with severe inflammation that causes difficulty breathing.

    Exercise-Induced Asthma

    Most asthma sufferers will experience a flare-up of symptoms during exercise, because the extra stress on the lungs and respiratory system can trigger inflammation. Generally, exercise-induced asthma will kick in 5-10 minutes after exercise begins and may return in a second wave of symptoms up to 24 hours later. However, with the right medication and exercise routine, you can work through exercise-induced symptoms so that you are able to maintain an active lifestyle and improve your overall health.

    Occupational Asthma

    It’s not just allergenic substances that can trigger asthma symptoms. Many different chemical substances can cause asthmatic symptoms, such as paints, cleaning products, dust, mold, and latex gloves—all common workplace hazards. If you tend to have symptoms that worsen at work, it could be due to these occupational exposures.

    Living a normal life with asthma is possible, but it does take a managed treatment plan with an allergy doctor. You can find the care you need in Blue Bell, Lansdale, Philadelphia, Jenkintown, Pottstown, King of Prussia, and Collegeville, Pennsylvania with the offices of Allergy & Asthma Specialists SM. You can reach us for an appointment at 1(800)86-COUGH.

  • Managing Asthma During Pregnancy

    If you suffer from asthma and you have recently become pregnant, you may be wondering if you have any reason to be concerned. While asthma can affect your pregnancy, most mothers complete their term without any serious complications. It’s important to consult an asthma doctor so that you can effectively avoid any potential problems. Here is a brief guide to managing your asthma while you are pregnant.

    Can my asthma affect my unborn baby?

    Severe asthma can affect the amount of oxygen you are able to get into your bloodstream, which can prevent the fetus from getting the oxygen it needs to remain healthy and safe. Thus, it’s critical to effectively control your asthma during your pregnancy to keep both yourself and your unborn baby healthy.

    Does asthma worsen during pregnancy?

    Only about a third of all individuals who go through pregnancy see their asthma worsen. Another third experience improved symptoms, while the remaining third experience no change in their status. Most women notice the changes during their first 36 weeks of pregnancy. It’s important to be alert to any changes to your asthma symptoms so that you can take action immediately if you notice them getting worse.

    If my asthma does get worse, what can I do?

    If you begin to experience severe asthma symptoms during your pregnancy, talk to your asthma doctor about how you can relieve the symptoms. The best method, if possible, is to minimize your exposure to your triggers. In certain cases, your doctor may prescribe an asthma medication. Many doctors recommend medications that can be inhaled, since they are usually considered to be a safer option for pregnant women.

    Allergy & Asthma Specialists SM has been providing state-of-the-art care for asthma patients since 1989. We have offices in Jenkintown, Lansdale, King of Prussia, Pottstown, Philadelphia, Blue Bell, Collegeville, and Doylestown, Pennsylvania. You can contact us to schedule an appointment at one of our locations by calling 1(800)86-COUGH.

  • 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.

  • What You Should Know About Your Child’s Asthma

    Knowing that you child has asthma can be frightening, but being familiar with this condition can help ease your anxiety and promote your kid’s healthy breathing. If an asthma doctor recently diagnosed your child with this condition, then continue reading to learn about a few of the things that you should know.

    Your Child’s Asthma Triggers

    Asthma can have a wide range of triggers, and these can vary from person to person. As a parent, knowing what activates your child’s asthma symptoms can be an essential part of managing her condition. Knowing what your child is allergic to is critical for avoiding her asthma triggers. If you’re unsure about what allergies your child has, then consider bringing her to an allergist for testing.

    What Steps to Take During an Attack

    Working with your child’s doctor to develop an action plan when her asthma acts up is an essential step in managing her condition and protecting her health. This plan will be catered to your child’s needs and should include what medications your child should take and under what circumstances.

    The Importance of Medications

    If your doctor has prescribed a controller medication for your child to take daily, then ensuring that it is administered as directed can be important for preventing asthma attacks and the need for high doses of oral steroids, which are more likely to cause side effects. Also, parents should know the proper way to administer medication to their child if breathing difficulties arise. Have your child’s doctor demonstrate how to use an inhaler or nebulizer and learn what you need to do to clean and maintain any associated equipment.

    If you think that your child may be suffering from asthma, then come and see us at Allergy & Asthma Specialists℠. Our board-certified asthma specialists are experienced in asthma treatment in Philadelphia, Blue Bell, King of Prussia, Jenkintown, Doylestown, Lansdale, Pottstown, and Collegeville. To schedule an appointment, please call 1(800)86-COUGH, ext. 2.

  • What Is a Local Pollen Count?

    Have you been diagnosed with seasonal allergies by your allergy doctor? If so, then knowing about and monitoring local pollen counts can be important for managing your condition and promoting your comfort.

    A local pollen count is an estimate of expected pollen levels in a specific area. These estimates are typically updated daily and calculated using a combination of current pollen reports and historical pollen indexes. Checking the pollen count each day can alert you to whether you should take or increase your allergy medication before going outdoors. For this reason, allergists often advise their patients to keep track of local pollen counts.

    Allergy & Asthma Specialists℠ provides diagnosis and treatment for a broad range of allergies.

    If you’re looking for allergy testing in Philadelphia, Blue Bell, King of Prussia, Jenkintown, Doylestown, Lansdale, Pottstown, or Collegeville, Pennsylvania, then please call 1(800)86-COUGH or visit us online to schedule your appointment with one of our allergy doctors.