ABC News’ Andrea Canning files news report including information provided by Dr. Bassett on why this season is being called an epic allergy season.
ABC News’ Andrea Canning files news report including information provided by Dr. Bassett on why this season is being called an epic allergy season.
Experts warn that the excessive flooding that followed Irene could cause a surge of mold. For those with allergies, this can mean coughing, sneezing and wheezing galore. Dr. Clifford Bassett says, “People are coming in for mold-related symptoms and pollen allergies. It’s like the perfect storm.”
See the full article on ABC News
Dr Bassett was recently contacted by ABC News correspondent Kim Carollo to comment on a new study that suggests there could be a link between skin allergies and the risk of developing certain cancers.
In research released on Monday, July 11, 2011, Danish researchers followed nearly 17,000 Dutch adults who were tested for skin allergens over a 23-year period. More than 6,000 of them tested positive for an allergy to at least one chemical or metal, and those people were found to be at a lower risk of non-melanoma skin cancers and breast cancers, but at a higher risk for bladder cancer.
But these results don’t mean that people with skin allergies are at a higher or lower risk for cancer. The authors stress the study merely suggests an association between skin allergies and cancer risk, although they believe it does offer more proof of the immunosurveillance hypothesis.
“Theoretically, the authors believe skin allergies put the immune system in overdrive, which is called the immunosurveillance hypothesis” said Dr. Clifford Bassett, assistant clinical professor of medicine at NYU Langone School of Medicine. Bassett was not involved in this research. “This means the immune system may be super-responsive, and perhaps there’s some protective function and therefore, the immune system is prehaps more likley to fight off certain things, including cancers.”
By KIM CAROLLO, ABC News Medical Unit —
Report Suggests Climate Change a Factor…
“A rising trend in ragweed allergies is entirely different from a rise in ragweed allergen,” said Dr. Harold Nelson, a senior staff physician at National Jewish Hospital in Denver. “One is related to air sampling for pollen and one to [antibody] sensitization of patients, usually ascertained by skin testing.”
Ragweed is most common along the East Coast and in the Midwest. Ragweed and other pollens have been present in record amounts in certain parts of the country because of the unusually heavy rainfall.
“Winter and spring precipitation have created a ‘perfect storm’ for heavy pollen levels and molds,” said Dr. Clifford Bassett, medical director of Allergy and Asthma Care of New York. “Higher pollen levels [have] in part [been] from increased carbon dioxide (greenhouse gases) that supercharge plants, trees, etc. to produce and release more pollen.”
Experts also say ragweed seasons are getting longer, especially in the Southwest, where it can plague allergy sufferers well into the fall.
Whether ragweed levels are truly higher and whatever may be causing them, it’s going to be a very long summer — and possibly fall — for millions of Americans.
“The allergic epidemic is here to stay,” said Dr. Bassett.
By COURTNEY HUTCHISON, ABC News Medical Unit –
The pollen count is through the roof and once again, you have a stuffy nose, sinus pain, fatigue and reduced sense of smell and taste. Oh great, another bad allergy season, you think.
And you’d be wrong. These are the hallmarks of a sinus infection, not allergies, though most allergy patients can’t tell the difference, according to a recent survey by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
In an online survey of more than 600 asthma and allergy patients, researchers found that about half self-diagnosed their symptoms as allergies when really they had a sinus infection, or sinusitis.
Despite the fact that 70 percent of those surveyed most trust a primary care physician to correctly diagnose allergies or sinusitis, only 36 percent reported consulting a physician when they had symptoms of these conditions.
“This study highlights how often people diagnose themselves. We’re human. It’s a natural response to go online and come up with our own diagnosis, but 10 to 15 times a day I get patients coming in convinced they have X, when really they have Y,” says Dr. Stacey Silvers, an ear, nose, and throat doctor at Beth Israel Hospital in New York City.
For years, New Yorker Dawn Burley, 27, figured her headaches, facial pain and fatigue were just the signs of seasonal allergies and migraines. But allergy medication didn’t lessen her symptoms, and she hated treating the pain of her migraines without knowing their cause. She had such severe pressure and pain around her eyes that she would become sensitive to light and had difficulty sleeping.
“It was really ruining my life. I’d have so many days where I could barely function,” she says. It wasn’t until she saw Silvers that anyone put her symptoms together and realized she had sinus problems. Though she had been diagnosed with acute sinus infections in the past, no doctor had recognized that Burley had chronic sinusitis because of the way her sinuses were formed.
After receiving a small implant to open her sinus passageways — a more extensive treatment than most require — Burley says she could breathe easier and sleep sounder, and had more stamina. “I didn’t even realize that these things could get better,” Burley says.
This is not uncommon of those with untreated sinus or allergy problems, Silvers says. “I’ve had patients tell me they didn’t know it wasn’t normal that their nose was always clogged at night. They didn’t realize that most people can breathe out of both sides of their nose. People get used to these things, and they don’t think it’s abnormal or treatable,” she says.
Sinus Infection vs. Allergies — How Do You Know?
Thirty-five million Americans suffer from nasal allergies and 7 million suffer from chronic sinus infections, yet most people can’t tell the difference between these two conditions.
“There is abundant confusion between cold, sinus and allergy symptoms,” says Dr. Clifford Bassett, medical director of the Allergy and Asthma Care of New York. This means that often these conditions get mistreated or go untreated, which can lead to “chronic nasal congestion and associated symptoms” that can affect quality of life as well as daytime performance, he says.
Here’s a breakdown of which symptoms belong to which ailments.
The Common Cold — “Cold and allergy can present similarly,” says Silvers, so the defining difference is the length: If your congested nose and breathing difficulty last longer than seven to 10 days, it’s probably not a cold. Most likely, it’s allergies, and needs to be treated with an antihistamine, not a decongestant.
Seasonal Allergies — If your sinus congestion is accompanied by watery or itchy eyes and it tends to last several weeks, it’s may be allergies, says Silvers. The problem is, many often treat their allergies like a cold, with over-the-counter decongestants, which will work in the short run but are not advisable. “When someone is taking a daytime decongestant every day and a nighttime one to sleep, for weeks and weeks, this is not good,” she says. Especially when their allergy might be due to an environmental trigger, such as a feather pillow, that could be easily eliminated.
Sinusitis or Chronic Sinusitis — With sinusitis, the nasal passageways become inflamed and the liter or more of mucus created every day by your body gets backed up in the sinuses. “This is when you get patients complaining of headache, pressure or pain in their face and chronic fatigue,” Silvers says.
A headful of mucus is an exhausted head, one that’s hard to lift off the pillow and patients can be irritable and fatigued on most days,” says Silvers. If you suffer from facial tenderness, pressure or pain, headache behind the eyes and forehead, or loss of taste or smell and fatigue, you may have sinusitis.
If you experience this three or more times a year, you may have chronic sinusitis, like Burley, and should consult with your physician or an ear, nose and throat specialist. What most people don’t know, Silvers says, is that you can have sinusitis without having a runny or stuffy nose or difficulty breathing, because the mucus is congested further back in the sinuses.
If you suffer from any of the above symptoms and they do not resolve within a week or so (and hence are unlikely to be a cold or flu), you should consider seeing your physician, who may refer you to an allergist or an ear, nose and throat specialist.
By KIM CAROLLO, ABC News Medical Unit – The millions of people coughing, sneezing and sniffling their way through what some experts predict could be the worst allergy season in years may not know about some of the more unusual ways to lessen their symptoms.
Here are some ways you may not have considered to get allergy relief:
Use Special Filters in Heating and Air Cooling Systems
MERV ratings are used to determine how well a filter removes dust from the air as it passes through. The higher the MERV score, the better the filter is at preventing allergens from staying in the air.
“Install a MERV 12 disposable high efficiency media filter in the furnace and air-conditioning system,” says Dr. James Sublett, managing partner of Family Allergy and Asthma in Louisville, Ky. “Change the filter every three months. Leave the fan on to create whole house filtration.”
Sublett also recommends paying close attention to the direction of household vents.
“Use vent fans in bathrooms and when cooking to remove moisture,” he says.
Start Treatment Early
While allergy season is already underway, a good tip for the future is to get an early start on treatment.
“See an allergist for simple, fast, reliable allergy tests so you can get relief,” said Dr. Clifford Bassett, clinical assistant professor of medicine at NYU School of Medicine in N.Y. and medical director of Allergy and Asthma Care of N.Y. “Many medications will work better if you start them even before symptoms begin in many cases.”
Change Clothes Outside the Bedroom
“Change your clothing before entering your bedroom to reduce pollens from being brought into your bedroom,”says Bassett.
Monitor Moisture Indoors
There are more allergens in the air when it’s humid, so experts recommend maintaining a consistently low level of humidity in the home.
“Measure the indoor humidity and keep it below 50 percent,” says Sublett. “Do not use vaporizers or humidifiers. You may need a dehumidifier.”
Bassett says about 35 percent of people with seasonal allergies also show a sensitivity to certain foods. For example, people allergic to grass pollens may also be allergic to melons, tomatoes or oranges. Those allergic to alder tree pollen may show some sensitivity to almonds, apples, cherries or certain other foods.
“However, it should be noted that reaction to one or more foods in any given category does not necessarily mean a person is allergic to all foods in that group,” Bassett says.
A Simple Test Can Guide You in the Right Direction
The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology sponsors a free self-test on its web site to help determine symptoms and point out where to find an allergist.
“The screening program is a way to get information to review with doctor and get on the road to recovery,” said Bassett.
‘Tis the Season to Be Sniffly – by Courtney Hutchison, ABC News Medical Unit, 12/24/09
From potpourri to Christmas trees, many of the festive activities or decorations festooning your home could be causing itchy skin, a runny nose or watery eyes.
And for those with serious food allergies, holiday parties and visits to friends and family can make dodging dangerous foods quite a feat.
Dr. Clifford Bassett, medical director of Allergy and Asthma Care of New York, says, “people come into the office with watery eyes and a runny nose — they don’t consider themselves to have allergies. But [if you point it out], they’ll note that they have this problem every year around the holidays. I like to call it ‘Christmas Tree Allergy Syndrome.'”
Bassett suggests using a leaf blower outside to blow pollen off you and washing the tree — especially the trunk — with a garden hose when you bring it home. Let it dry in the garage before decorating.
So what can you do to avoid having a Rudolph-red nose — or, worse, a trip to the E.R. — around the holidays? Bassett and Daines give the following advice on dodging allergies this winter.
Wash off Christmas trees with a garden hose to get rid of extra pollen or mold that may be on the branches and let them dry out in the garage before bringing them into the house.
Wear long sleeves and gloves when handling the tree to avoid skin irritation.
If a real tree is aggravating to your allergies, consider using an artificial tree but be sure to store it in an airtight container to prevent dust and mold from collecting, and wipe it down when you take it out from storage each year.
If you have a life-threatening allergy, make that clear to your server and perhaps even write it down for them or call ahead to inform the restaurant.
Make sure kids with allergies wear medical bracelets that clearly state their allergies.
Avoid buffets if you have food allergies because oftentimes serving utensils are used for multiple dishes and can cross-contaminate food.
When in doubt, bring your own snacks as back-up.
ABC News reports that the American Academy of Pediatrics had long recommended that parents delay the introduction of common allergens like dairy, eggs and nuts until a child is 2 or 3 years old. But, in January 2008, the organization reversed its stance after clinical studies showed no benefit to the delay.
“After 4 to 6 months of age, there is a lack of good evidence that avoidance of specific highly allergenic foods can alter future allergies and allergic conditions,” said Dr. Clifford Bassett, assistant clinical professor of medicine and otolaryngology at SUNY-Health Sciences Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. This doesn’t mean that any young child should start eating peanut butter at any given time. If there is a history of food allergies in the family, or the child has already reacted to other products, like milk and eggs, there could be a higher risk for a peanut allergy.
Dr. Bassett said it’s important to have a food allergy action plan, created by an allergist, in place for home, school and camp to familiarize everyone on how to handle a reaction. “In our practice, we recommend that an individual at risk of a food allergy have a food allergen ingredient card for eating outside of the home in order to reduce accidental exposure to the suspect foods,” Dr. Bassett said. CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL STORY ON ABC NEWS – HEALTH
Dr. Bassett gives us tips and tricks on avoiding holiday allergens such as dust from decorations, mold on trees, food and fragrances in candles and potpourri. See the ABC News Report.
A 12-year-old has a condition that causes her to sneeze continuously.
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