A new study links chlorine in swimming pools to health hazards for children.
A new study links chlorine in swimming pools to health hazards for children.
Let’s face it: The best defense is a good offense. In the case of allergies, that means you’ll need to develop a plan for allergic conditions such as stinging insect allergy, bug bite and mosquito reactions, food allergies, poison ivy and other rashes — especially if you have a history of an allergic reaction.
Pesky mosquitoes can cause small or large bite reactions. Are you allergic to mosquitoes? Don’t scratch to avoid localized infection. Topical steroid creams and cool compresses may offer supportive relief. Don’t smell so nice and avoid scented products and colognes. Also, prime biting times are generally dusk and dawn. Use insect repellents and wear long sleeves and pants — especially if in the woods or in a heavy mosquito area.
If you have a history of reacting to stinging insects such as a honey bee, wasp, hornet or yellow jacket, you certainly need an evaluation with an experienced insect allergy specialist. Frequent testing can reveal whether or not you will need to receive allergy injections to reduce your risk of a future life-threatening reaction, if stung.
Are you allergic to sunscreen and other products you may be using outdoors and at the beach? Skin allergies to the suspect ingredient can be easily diagnosed through office-based skin patch tests to identify the skin allergen that is likely to be causing the reaction or rash. Sometimes it even is a fragrance or preservative present in the product used.
Poison ivy reactions are on the rise due to climate change. Know what these problematic plants look like, especially if you react to them. You may try various over-the-counter barrier- or lanolin-type creams that are now designed to prevent the oil in the poison ivy/sumac family of plants that cause the horrible itching, rashes and blisters associated with this condition. Some individuals with severe reactions will need prescription medication for proper treatment.
Stay tuned for other mid summer strategies to keep you well.
Each year millions of us have the not so enjoyable experience of getting bitten by a mosquito, especially during the summer months almost everywhere! Are there more mosquitos or more of us getting bitten? Yup, according to a recent study which found a three fold increase in bites over the past decade or so? This could be just another effect of global warming.
What is the reason why some of us experience a larger reaction (increased area of swelling and redness at the bite site) vs. those who seem to have pretty low key reactions? The answer may be in whether or not you are sensitive to the proteins present in the insect’s saliva; hence you are allergic to mosquito bites!
There are a variety of reactions mosquito bites may cause, varying from a small amount of redness, swelling and itchiness, all the way up to those who experience extensive redness and swelling. Rarely, a full blown generalized allergic reaction (Skeeter’s syndrome) can be seen as well. In fact one of my patients recently required emergency department treatment, including intravenous medication for a severe reaction to her bites.
Get tested for mosquito allergy!
Recently, I have begun performing an in-office, quick, simple skin test to determine if you are truly “allergic” or sensitive to mosquitoes. Always consult with your health care provider if you experience large generalized reactions after getting bitten by a mosquito, or another insect. Evaluation is mandatory for those who have experienced a generalized allergic type reaction to any biting, or stinging insect. Be prepared if you seem to get lots of bad mosquito bites. Have a mosquito bite treatment plan in place.
An ounce of prevention is worth a lot.
That means defensive measures really work and may give you a leg up in avoiding “the bite!” First, those who smell nice (use scented products) and sweat a lot may be more attractive to mosquitoes. Second, prime biting times are usually dawn and dusk. Third, wearing long sleeves and pants (tucked in to shoes) reduces exposed areas, particularly if you will be hiking or walking in a wooded area.
How to repel
There is a variety of DEET-containing insect repellent products ranging from a concentration of 5-10 percent, all the way up to 30-40 percent. The strength of the DEET will dictate how long (hours) you may remain “bite-free.” Alternatively, natural (eucalyptus oils, etc) insect repellent products are available. Use these products as directed on the label.
Now if you are unlucky and get bitten, bite treatment can provide significant relief. Cleaning the area of the bite is essential, and using an over the counter or a prescription strength steroid cream will reduce itch and localized discomfort. Remember, a cool ice compress will also reduce swelling.
Hope this helps to keep you bite free, and take the “sting” out of summer!
Can’t smell the flowers? Many individuals with colds as well as allergies frequently suffer with a variety of familiar symptoms such as sneezing, runny and drippy nose. Sufferers often reach out for various over-the-counter remedies to alleviate symptoms.
Yesterday, the FDA advised people not to use three Zicam Cold Remedy intranasal products: Zicam Cold Remedy Nasal Gel, Zicam Cold Remedy Gel Swabs and Zicam Cold Remedy Swabs, Kid’s Size. They are used as non-prescription homeopathic treatment for colds in adults and children 3 years of age and older. The FDA indicated there were more than a hundred reports of anosmia (a loss of sense of smell) associated with use of these Zicam products.
The FDA advised: “Consumers should stop using these products immediately and should discard or return them.” The complete release can be found on the agency’s Web site.
If you have lost your sense of smell, it’s important to contact your health care professional for evaluation. Some individuals may experience this condition as a result of a common cold or sinus infection, which is generally temporary, as well as in other conditions, such as aging.
Oh yes — at least one third of seasonal allergy sufferers may have “oral allergy syndrome” —characterized by itchiness of the mouth, lips and throat, as well as the familiar sniffles and sneezing, after ingestion of various fresh fruits, vegetables and even nuts that cross react with tree, grass and weed pollens.
So what can you do? Well in many cases peeling, cooking and heating the fruits can reduce the likelihood of triggering seasonal allergy symptoms. In some cases, the symptoms caused by the cross reaction are more likely during the height of the pollen season for that allergen. That is spring time for seasonal tree and grass pollens in many areas of the U.S., and weed pollens usually during summer and early fall.
So if you are sensitive to tree pollens you may react when eating apples, cherries, pears, apricots, kiwis, oranges, plums, almonds, hazelnut and walnuts. I have actually seen some individuals with seasonal spring tree pollen allergies react to hazelnut flavored coffee!
Grass pollen may cross react with melon, tomato and orange. Those who are sensitive to ragweed and weeds may react when ingesting banana, cantaloupe, cucumber, zucchini, watermelon and even chamomile tea!
Obviously having your seasonal allergy symptoms under control requires planning and often encourages my patients with seasonal allergies to develop an allergy action plan. This way by following the allergy season calendar for your area and knowing the pollen count (go to www.aaaai.org/nab), you will be better prepared for those pesky allergy symptoms before they even begin!
Beautiful flowers are always a quick way to brighten up your home, but what do you do when allergies leave you terrified of incorporating them into your decor? Turns out, you don’t have to avoid them all. So grab a bouquet and breathe easy knowing you can enjoy your blooms, too!
“Strong fragrance can be an irritant to the nose and can cause allergy-like symptoms but may not trigger allergies,” explains Dr. Clifford Bassett, diplomat of the American Board of Allergy and Immunology. “However, male plants often cause more of a reaction to those who are sensitive to pollen.”
Which flowers will trigger allergies and which won’t will differ from one person to the next so use trial and error. Start with flowers that are less likely to provoke a sneezing fit, such as: azaleas, begonias, bougainvilleas, cacti daffodils, daisies, dahlias, gladiolas, Irish mosses, irises, lilies, marigolds, narcissus, orchids, pansies, petunias, snapdragons, sunflowers, tulips, violets, and zinnias.
In fact, some plants can actually help you out by cleaning the air! “These plants include evergreen, Chinese aloe vera, chrysanthemums, spider plants, mums, ficus, gerbera daisies and common English ivy,” Dr. Bassett says. “The NASA study recommends around 12 or more plants to do the job for an average size house. It works out to being about one houseplant per 100 square feet of living space.”
“You want to enjoy them while they are there,” Dr. Bassett points out, “but not suffer from the pollen after they’re gone.”
Many of my patients have a variety of questions regarding their skin care, especially those with sensitive skin. I recently sat down with my colleague Dr. Bobby Buka, section chief of the department of dermatology at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, and discussed various steps you can take to improve your skin’s health AND appearance if you have sensitive skin.
Don’t over do it!
Dr. Buka feels a balance of skin care products is the key and not to “overdo it” with too many different lotions and facial care treatments — especially if you have sensitive skin. “Too many of my patients end up with ‘itchy red bump syndrome,’ a condition that results from putting too much stuff on your face,” says Dr. Buka. He further explained how the skin’s delicate balance can be upset by well-intentioned patients who apply more than 3 products to the face at the same time. His rule of thumb is to use no more than 3 items per application. Your skin can’t possibly absorb more than 3 products anyway, so Dr. Bukka says chill out, 2-3 targeted items to the skin’s surface are plenty.
Some patients who also have seasonal or year-round allergies, as well as sinus problems, may also experience below eyelid puffiness or “shiners” that can wreak havoc with your appearance. When those affected are actually tested, many individuals have allergies as well as possible contact or skin allergy to products used in the eyelid and facial areas. Covering up these dark circles with facial cosmetics (foundation, etc.) won’t fix the problem. Dr. Buka and I often collaborate to develop a long-term solutions patients with sensative skin-related issues.
Finally, stay hydrated — this means what may seem like a massive amount of water each day — 8 glasses! So drink up, your skin and (your internal organs) will thank you for it. But sensitive skin or not, protection against UV rays remains the single most important thing you can do to protect your skin and delay the signs of aging! Dr. Buka and I recommend SPF 30 or higher for patients — not only when planning to spend the day outside, but also as part of their daily skin regimen. So get out there and take charge of your sensitive skin care for optimal health, and look better!
Asthma occurs when the linings of lung airways become inflamed and swollen and muscle pasms block airflow to the lungs. Although the exact cause of asthma is not known, many treatments are available to control the disease.
Over 22 million Americans suffer from asthma and with over 4,000 deaths a year caused by the condition, it’s not something to take lightly.
Here with details on what you need to know about asthma and where you can get free asthma screening is Dr. Clifford Bassett, medical director of the Allergy and Asthma Care of New York. Dr. Bassett will also talk about what it is asthma, who has it, its symptoms, triggers and treatments. Our Dr. Steve will take a spirometer test.
Originally posted on WPIX
You LIVING WELL. As many as 40 million people in the United States suffer from allergies; armed with the following little-known information, your spring and summer could be nearly sniffle-free.
There is no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog
Allergy specialist Dr. Michael S. Blaiss of the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center insists there are no “best breeds” for people with allergies. “All cats and dogs produce allergenic proteins in their saliva, urine and skin,” he says. “The fur is not a factor in contributing to allergy. Each animal may produce different levels of allergen, but it is not breed specific.”
Dr. Marjorie Slankard of the Department of Medicine at Columbia Doctors Eastside offers a few additional dog suggestions. “Poodles and wire-haired terriers are thought to be less allergenic than some dogs,” she says. “The bottom line, however, is that it is possible to react to any dog.” Try spending time with friends’ dogs to see which breed is a good match, but be warned — after a pet is in the household, a person can develop allergies they did not previously have.
Manhattan allergist Dr. Clifford Bassett, a fellow of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, has tips on allergy-enhancing foods to avoid: There are some foods, nuts, fresh fruits and spices that worsen seasonal allergies.
“In the springtime, carrots, pears, apples, cherries, almonds and hazelnuts can aggravate your seasonal allergies,” he warns. “The same can happen with grass pollens and potato, melon and tomato. If you have ragweed allergy, watch out for banana, melons, zucchini and even camomile tea and sunflower seeds.” Usually, Dr. Slankard adds, cooked vegetables and fruits do not exacerbate allergy symptoms as the raw ones might.
Do your chores — the smart way
Stay indoors during peak pollen hours — 6 to 10 a.m. — and leave yard work for wet, windless, overcast days. Vacuum often and use a HEPA air purifier when possible. Standard air-conditioners ought to remove about 90 percent of air irritants, so clean your filters at least once a year.
Are food allergies really on the rise? Well it is estimated that up to 6 percent of young children and 3-4 percent of adults in our country have food allergies. There are recent studies looking at a rise in the prevalence of food allergies over the past several decades. In fact, the rate of peanut allergy doubled in children over a five year period. In one study, only half the adults affected with severe food-allergic reactions sought any evaluation of this condition by a medical professional.
Over the years, Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) have been at the forefront of progress in food allergy research. Findings from research studies have been used to change federal and state laws, improve school policies, raise public awareness, improve the daily lives of individuals with food allergy, and provide education for patients, caregivers and health care providers.
One recent study looked at the failure of many schools throughout the country in having a food allergy action plan in place for food-allergic children, as well as ways to improve on them, by working with your local allergist.
In 1997, Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) created Food Allergy Awareness Week to educate others about food allergies. Spread the word about the 12th annual Food Allergy Awareness Week (FAAW), May 10-16, 2009. This year help those with food allergies “Take Action, Prevent Reactions.” Mark the week this year by working to increase awareness at schools, talk to your elected representatives, and plan a fundraiser. You can hand out fliers, put up posters, or display educational materials. Make it a time to learn more about food allergies and prevention strategies, as well as preparedness at home, at school and at camp.
FAAN has also promoted the “Be a PAL: Protect A Life™ From Food Allergies” program that is designed to educate parents and educators, and teach students about food allergies and how to help their friends and classmates who may have food allergies.
The basic tenets of the PAL program designed to keep food-allergic kids safer are:
And lastly, FAAN is also sponsoring a Food Allergy Walk this year in a community near you. The goals of this program are to increase awareness of food allergy. The walk is “to provide understanding, hope and an opportunity for a child with food allergy to simply be a child!”