How to tell if you are suffering from allergies, asthma or both.
How to tell if you are suffering from allergies, asthma or both.
Jacqui Read loves to hike with Buddy on the weekends. Buddy, a golden retreiver, is allergic to pollen, creating a challenge during hikes around his Atlanta neighborhood.
In the spring, they can spend a whole day exploring the outdoors near their Atlanta, Georgia, home. When they return home, they enjoy a nice meal and an evening on the sofa.
But if it’s been a bad day for pollen, Read breaks out the Benadryl. Two for her — and three for Buddy.
Buddy, the 75-pound golden retriever, has allergies.
“I grew up with goldens. That’s why I adopted him, and I don’t remember us ever having dogs with allergies,” she said. “But I had never heard of that, so when they said I could give him Benadryl, I was like, ‘Really?’ ”
Pet allergies are more common than you think. About 10 percent of dogs have allergies, said Sandra Diaz, an assistant professor of dermatology at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech. She said good data don’t exist for cats. See map of top ten U.S. allergy capitals »
“Allergies we cannot cure. We just manage them and keep them under control so the animal can have a good quality of life,” she said.
Diaz said the most common kind of allergies, especially in dogs, is a reaction to fleas. The saliva from a flea bite can irritate an animal’s skin.
Jacquie Smith, who lives in Washington with her boyfriend and five cats, works hard to prevent Ben, a gray tabby, from having flea issues. She uses a flea control product called Frontline, but every now and then — especially when the weather gets warm — Ben’s hair will fall out near his tail. It’s a telltale sign of the flea allergy that Ben has while his brother Jerry has no similar symptoms.
“At first we thought it might be stress,” Smith said. “But the vet did a skin scraping test [for mites] and figured out it was a flea allergy. Just one flea can make him lose his hair.”
Diaz said that although fleas are the most common cause of allergies, environmental factors (pollens, molds, grasses) also often lead to skin problems, as well as food allergies (to certain proteins or carbohydrates).
Animals typically don’t get runny noses or watery eyes. Instead they get itchy skin that they will bite or lick.
Sometimes people overlook allergies, believing that scratching is normal behavior, she said. And another often disregarded sign is an ear infection, which most dogs with allergies get.
“With allergies, they tend to get worse with time,” Diaz said. “They are very seasonal. Animals often get very itchy, say in spring and in fall, and then they get significantly better.”
Allergies are on the rise in humans and in animals, said Cliff Bassett, an allergist/immunologist with the Long Island College Hospital of Brooklyn, New York. He blamed the increase of carbon dioxide in the air as one factor.
Because of higher CO2 levels, plants produce three to four times more pollen, and it’s stronger than in previous years.
The best way to protect yourself or your pet is to stay away from the source of the irritation.
“Whether you are an animal or an adult, the primary prevention is to avoid the allergen,” he said.
Diaz said it takes many weeks to determine whether an animal has a food allergy.
She suggested the following method for isolating allergens in pet food:
1. Start the pet on a new food, and watch for allergic reactions to it for eight to 10 weeks.
2. If there are no reactions, feed the pet with the original food. If the symptoms return, Diaz said, the diagnosis is a food allergy.
3. If you want to figure out which ingredient was the culprit, your veterinarian will provide you with more new food, this time with one ingredient that was also in the old food. If the pet has no reaction after a few weeks, you can add a second ingredient, and so on until the allergen is discovered.
With allergies unrelated to food, veterinarians can do tests on dogs and develop vaccines to treat the problem, Diaz said. The vet will use environmental allergen charts for the region to determine the likely cause. Then the doctor will inject a suspected allergen into the skin and then observe the pet’s reaction.
The test takes about 30 minutes, and the animal will need to be sedated, she said.
“We develop a specific vaccine for each case,” she said. “Each individual case will be managed differently.”
Diaz recommended several different measures to lessen the effects of allergies.
She suggested vacuuming often if pets are allergic to mites, or limiting their outdoor time when pollen counts are at their highest (mornings or evenings). Frequent bathing is good for removing allergens from the skin, she said.
Read, who is a writer for the Centers for Disease Control, said she was going to take Buddy to the vet once more because he has been really itching this spring and his eyes have been more “goopy” than usual. And his ears seem to need more scratching on those weekend nights on the couch.
“I just want to make sure that there isn’t any more I can do,” she said.
The search for a “presidential dog” has dominated the headlines since President Obama’s campaign. It has been reported that President Obama’s 10-year-old daughter, Malia, is allergic to dog hair, and thus starts the search for a “hypoallergenic” dog. Many of my patients find themselves with the desire to have a pet, despite a pet allergy as well.
There is a myth that pet allergies are caused by animal hair! It is actually a protein found in pet skin/dander, saliva and urine that causes the allergy. Hairless dogs are still going to have at least some allergen. Some dog breeds, are said to be “hypoallergenic,” as they shed less, but no dog breed is completely 100 percent hypoallergenic.
In some cases, there are individual differences between breeds, and a particular pet allergy sufferer may do better with one breed as compared to another. Lastly, it has been postulated that perhaps female dogs might produce less animal allergen, but the jury is still out on this one!
You may look for breeds with shorter hair and less shedding, although there isn’t any real scientific evidence this will really help. Some allergists have also advocated that there may be an advantage to keeping a dog that tends to keep their coat throughout the year. Also, there is a consideration to selecting a smaller dog, as these animals may shed less dander than a bigger dog. Other factors discussed are the animal’s temperament or disposition that might make frequent bathing more feasible.
Tips that can help reduce dog allergy suffering:
• Create a pet-free bedroom
• Wash bedding in hot water
• Bathe your dog frequently and have a non-allergic family member perform grooming
• Use a HEPA air purifier, double bag and/or HEPA vacuum cleaner/home A/C, and as well as vacuuming carpets, cleaning walls
• Shampoo carpeting frequently or better yet, go with wood or washable tile/linoleum flooring
• Increase time your pet spends outside, when the weather allows
• Visit an allergist to discuss treatment options
Nevertheless, there are no guarantees that an individual who is truly allergic to pets (about 10 percent if those with allergies) will tolerate living with a pet dog or cat. What I have found helpful is actually trying out a pet on a “temporary or trial basis” for a future pet, to ensure a successful ending to this story. An even better strategy is to begin allergy treatment before getting a pet if you are allergic, including allergy injections!
For more information on pet allergies go to: http://www.aaaai.org/media/news_releases/pressrelease.asp?contentid=8326
For for home and animal allergy management tips check out: http://www.allergyandasthmarelief.org/animal_allergens.html
If you think you aren’t allergic to anything, try rubbing poison ivy on your bare skin.
While 99 percent of people will suffer the typical rash and itch, a few will escape the encounter with the natural botanical product unscathed, because they aren’t allergic to it.
But poison ivy is not like most other allergens. People who suffer from other skin allergies will also develop a rash from contact with the allergen, but they don’t have the vast majority of people who share in their discomfort. And those substances can range from metals such as nickel and chromium, to chemicals such as formaldehyde that can be found in everyday products.
A variety of substances can be allergy culprits, and these allergens can affect you even if you don’t inhale or eat them.
Dr. Clifford Bassett, the chair of public education for the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, recalled one young boy who had hives, the source of which turned out to be a his father’s moisturizer and shaving cream, which contained nuts. It aggravated the boy’s nut allergy when the two embraced.
“It’s not just what you put in your mouth, but it may also be contact,” he said, noting that allergens can be found in products one would never expect. “You need to be a label detective.”
Of course, not all skin itches are due to allergies.
For example, some people think they are allergic to Ivory soap, which is supposed to be moisturizing but can give some a rash. That is likely dry skin, not an allergy, said Dr. Sharon Jacob, assistant professor of medicine and pediatrics at the University of California at San Diego.
“It actually tends to be fairly drying for the skin,” she said, noting that she recommends that patients with eczema and dermatitis avoid that brand of soap.
“Like we might say with a medication, it’s more of a side effect,” said Jacob.
While allergists test patients for foods they eat and allergens they may inhale, dermatologists are often the ones who look at contact allergies.
As opposed to the testing often done by allergists, which involves pricking patients’ skin, dermatologists typically conduct a patch test, in which a patch containing the allergen is stuck to the skin for 48 hours and checked again after 72 hours to test for contact allergies.
“We’re not testing for foods and those types of things,” explained Dr. Bryan E. Anderson, an associate professor of dermatology at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. He said this separate test can confuse patients who think they have been already tested for all of their allergies.
While only a dermatologist can tell you if you have a contact allergy, see if you should ask about one of these nine culprits.
Original Article on ABCnews.com
How to take care of bedbugs and other night crawlers invading your bed.
Allergic to Your Home?
This family had a ton of allergies in their home that they showed on the Dr. Oz Show. Allergist Dr. Clifford Bassett examined their home and found a number of allergenic contaminants that were causing the family to get sick. Symptoms included asthma, watery eyes, breathing trouble and even extreme respiratory distress that caused their teenage daughter to make several emergency room visits.
So what is in the air? Look out for seasonal tree pollens now wherever you are and learn more about these allergy culprits that are likely to be not only in your backyard — but also in your nose and eyes!
Plant pollens such as trees, grasses and weeds are not the only allergens that affect the us while working in the garden. Many mold spores also affect people in the outdoors, seasonally, or even year round.
If there is an existing pollen problem in your landscape, replace that plant with a less allergenic selection. A system that may help you do this and indicates the likelihood of a plant’s potential to cause allergy is the Ogren Plant Allergy Scale.
A pollen-producing tree in your own yard will expose you to up to ten times the amount of pollen as would the same tree planted just down the block from your home!
Here are some more allergy sufferer’s tips for you and your yard:
The first step is to reduce outdoor seasonal “triggers” by identifying the plants and flowers that will cause you discomfort. Get tested to choose the “right” plants, shrubs and flowers that are better for you. By knowing your allergies you can also plan ahead and modify your gardening schedule. This involves having the knowledge regarding peak periods throughout the day to the culprit allergens as well as staying tuned to learn the pollen count in your town or city.
Pollen counts from the previous day are available for main cities via the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI) as well as in local newspapers and with the daily weather reports on radio and TV. The Web site for the National Allergy Bureau is www.aaaai.org/nab.
You may need to adjust your planting and/or gardening activities as seasonal symptoms such as itchiness of the eyes, nose and throat, sneezing may be worse on windy, dry, sunny and clear days may be associated with greater airborne pollens as wet, cloudy and windless days can see a reduction in outdoor plant pollens.
Plants with bright, showy flowers are better for people who have allergies. Their pollen is large and because they are pollinated by insects, the pollen is seldom airborne. Plants that cause allergies usually have flowers that are small and insignificant looking and have no color for attracting nectar.
The following trees, shrubs, and plants have been found to be BETTER for people with allergies:
If you are considering adding trees to your landscape, you should AVOID planting the following:
Pam Steel, nurse practitioner at the Duke University Medical Center and coordinator of their study on peanut allergies, talks about the potentially very promising results. Also, Dr. Clifford Bassett, NYU School of Medicine faculty member and medical director of Allergy and Asthma Care of New York, gives advice on how to deal with food allergies.
Whether it is kissing casually after greeting someone or kissing more intimately, kissing can trigger a possible allergic reaction if you are sensitive to a food or even a cosmetic or skin allergen.
Let’s start at the beginning. How does this happen? First one needs to be sensitive to the allergen at hand (a food allergy to nuts for example). One of the more common food allergens in adults, adolescents and children are peanuts and nuts. Recent studies have looked at how long it generally takes for an allergen such as peanut to be transmitted via oral and mouth contact to another individual. It may take as much as 4 hours for the speck of peanut to finish being passed to another person or mouth!
Another occurrence may be seen by contact to a specific skin allergen (preservative, fragrance in a cosmetic used on or around the mouth and face). If you have a localized contact allergy to a specific skin allergen it may, although rarely, be transmitted to another individual who may have an allergic contact allergy to this substance. I had a patient who developed hives after exposure to her husband’s shaving cream that incidentally was loaded with nut oils. Let’s look at more intimate way a person might be allergic to love.
Many couples utilize a latex condom which can provoke a localized or generalized allergic reaction if you are sensitive to latex rubber. A woman can even develop an allergic reaction to her partner’s sperm containing seminal fluid, inducing localized swelling, hives, and itchiness after lovemaking; fortunately this is a rare problem. The tipoff that you may be allergic to your partner’s seminal fluid is resolution of all symptoms with the use of a condom.
And lastly, if you have sensitive skin, strong colognes, fragrances, scented cosmetics and facial products may irritate you after contact with any of those just mentioned. The irritation may present similar to those of eczema or rosacea. Sunlight may even make these symptoms worse for those who are “photosensitive” and therefore might develop a sunburn-like rash as a result of a combination of exposure to sun and the aforementioned products. In many cases unscented skin care products may be beneficial if you have sensitive skin.
If you have allergies, specifically those to a variety of common foods (including peanuts and other nuts) use caution before your next kiss!