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.
If you or someone in your family is allergic to nuts, you’re no doubt very careful with dietary options. Still, sometimes nuts lurk where you don’t expect them. Could nuts be hiding in your home without your knowledge? More importantly, do you know where to look for them?
Peanut allergies are among the most common causes of anaphylaxis-related fatality, so it’s crucial to keep peanuts away from someone who is allergic. Unfortunately, allergen exposure doesn’t just happen when an allergic person eats peanuts. It can happen during food preparation and and when utensils are shared. What’s more, peanuts, peanut oil, and peanut shells are often found in non-food products, from stuffed toys, to landscaping elements, to sunscreen lotion, to fireplace logs. Peanut-related ingredients can even be found in pet food and dental cleaners.
Tree nuts are major allergens as well. People who are allergic to tree nuts can experience anaphylaxis from contact with nuts like walnuts, cashews, almonds, and hazelnuts. In addition to the nuts themselves, tree nut elements can be found in soaps, lotions, beauty products, shampoo, bath oils, and suntan lotion. Small pets like gerbils and hamsters often eat food that contains tree nuts.
Obviously, it’s important to read labels, but what do you look for on those labels? Labels will often specify if the product contains nuts or peanuts, but there are other words to watch for as well. Artificial nuts, nut butters and oils, and peanut products like peanut flour, peanut starch, and peanut oil can trigger allergic reactions. Sauces, ice cream, baked goods, and candy often contain nuts, as do many flavorings, thickeners, salad dressings, and roasted or fried foods.
Be extremely careful with unfamiliar ingredients, and try to stick to food with labels. Foods from deli counters, salad bars, and bakeries are often unsafe for those with nut allergies. Remember, too, that a different version of a favorite food may not be as safe as the one you’re accustomed to, because the ingredients may vary. If you’re out at a restaurant, don’t be shy about speaking up and asking how a dish is prepared, because reading the menu won’t always tell you everything that’s in your food.
Be careful of sneaky sources of nuts, including:
- Chili: Sometimes, chili is thickened with peanut butter. Whether it’s a bowl of chili or a chili burger, don’t assume this comfort food is safe.
- Ethnic foods: Mexican mole sauce often has peanuts or peanut butter, and Indian and Thai cuisines are loaded with nuts. Even if nuts are not listed on the menu as part of the dish, they may be used to thicken sauces.
- French fries: Most of the time French fries are ok to eat, but you have to ask about the oil in which they’re fried. Some restaurants, like Five Guys, cook their fries in peanut oil. Interestingly, peanut oil made in the United States is so refined that it doesn’t trigger allergies, but many restaurants use peanut oil from China, which is less refined. Because it’s impossible to know the source of the peanut oil, it’s best to avoid it.
- Deli meat: You wouldn’t necessarily think that meat would have nuts in it, but in fact, some deli meats are studded with pistachios. Other meats cut on the same slicer can be cross-contaminated and trigger allergies. Rather than buying lunch meat from a deli, look for a prepackaged version with a label that specifies that it’s nut safe.
- Cocktails: Many liqueurs get their flavor from nuts, some vodka is infused with nuts, and many gins are flavored with almonds. Even beer may not be safe, as brown ales often contain peanuts or tree nuts.
- Pet food: Let’s face it: sometimes kids put dog food in their mouths. Be careful, because pet foods are not subject to allergen labeling, and may contain nuts. Bird food almost always contains nuts, unless you feed your birds food-grade sunflower seeds that are labeled as nut-safe.
- Gluten-free goodies: Lupin, which is often used as a flour in gluten-free products, is a legume that can cause reactions in people with peanut allergies. Almond flour is also used frequently in gluten-free treats.
- Nut butters: Obviously, you’re not going to feed nut butter to someone who is allergic to nuts. However, nut butter often pops up in random places; sometimes it’s even found in kale chips.
Understanding your allergies and knowing how to avoid triggers 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.