In this helpful Fox News article, Dr. Bassett breaks down the 9 Ways To Have Allergy-Free Holidays. You should be sure to read it carefully and more importantly, take action on these tips to ensure the minimization of allergy triggers for you and family and friends who come to visit! Read the article.
An allergist refers to a doctor that specializes in the evaluation, diagnosis, treatment as well as management of asthma and other disorders that are related to the immune system. To be an allergist, one must go through years of academic and professional training. That is, four years in college, four years in medical school, three years of residency training in pediatrics or internal medicine as well as a two to three year fellowship in pediatric and adult allergy and immunology. They must conclude with passing a difficult exam before they are certified by the board. Although many people exhibit allergic reactions to different substances, not many of them seek proper medical attention because they do not know what an allergist does.
Allergists also devote themselves to understanding the various triggers that cause allergic diseases and how to identify and manage them. Additionally, they educate their patients in modifying their environment for optimal management of their allergies.
Who should see an Allergist?
Allergists offer expert medical counsel relating to the evaluation, treatment and management of patients with immune problems and allergic diseases. Some of the conditions and diseases that may warrant evaluation, treatment and management by an allergist include the following:
- Allergic rhinitis for seasonal and year-round allergies
- Atopic dermatitis-commonly referred to as eczema
- Allergic eye diseases
- Food and Spice Allergies
- Latex Allergies
- Stinging Insect Allergies
- Urticaria (hives and skin rashes)
- Chronic sinus infections
- Chronic cough
- Immune problems
- Frequent colds/bronchitis
In some instances, otolaryngologists, dermatologists, rheumatologists and pulmonologists may refer their patients to allergists.
The Role of an Allergist in the Management and Treatment of Allergic Diseases
Allergists are specially trained to deal with prevention, diagnosis and the treatment of problems of the immune system. Allergists play an important role in minimizing the number emergency room visits as well as reduce the absenteeism from school and work as they assist their patients in the management of their disease. They are trained to review the patient’s medical history, their family history, and symptoms as well as their work and home environments. Based on all of these factors, they can develop an appropriate management plan that combines environmental control measures and medication or even allergen immunotherapy to eradicate the patient’s allergies.
When to See an Allergist
Many people are not sure about when they need to visit an allergist. In fact, it is common to find patients with allergic reactions who are taking over the counter medications. It is advisable to consult an allergist at the earliest opportunity. In most cases, they will conduct skin prick testing, to identify the cause of the allergy. If needed, intradermal testing, skin patch testing and/or lung function testing can also be done in the office. Proper diagnosis can lead to an allergy free life because you will receive proper treatment. Some of the signs to look out for that may necessitate a visit to the allergist include:
- Recurrent skin rashes
- Severe or moderate eczema
- Asthma that has symptoms that affect work, sleep or school
- Severe or moderate food allergy
- Serious reaction to mosquito bites, ant bites or bee stings
- Recurring allergic rhinitis symptoms
In conclusion, while many people may not know what is an allergist, it is important to seek medical help for allergies early enough to prevent severe cases.
“The allergy landscape is changing,” says allergist Dr. Clifford Bassett, who directs Allergy & Asthma Care of New York. Nationwide, pollen is increasing because plants are growing larger than they usually would. This is because of the increase in carbon dioxide and, in some areas, increased rainfall, he says.
Pollen moves about best on hot, dry days, especially with some wind, says California horticulturist Thomas Leo Ogren. With warmer days and a longer pollen season, “I now often see landscape plants that used to bloom and produce pollen once a year … doing it spring and fall.” Ogren wrote the books Allergy-Free Gardening (Ten Speed Press, 2000) and Safe Sex in the Garden (Ten Speed Press, 2004) about landscaping with allergy-friendly plants. An updated version of his work, The Allergy-Fighting Garden, is due in February 2015.
Ogren writes about the allergy potential from male plants that have been increasing in popularity. “Male trees all produce pollen, lots of pollen, and airborne pollen at that,” he writes. Male plants beckon to gardeners because they don’t tend to produce messy fruit or flowers, leaving less debris than female plants. The human process of weeding out the females in the garden is “unnatural selection,” Ogren writes.
Or, to put it lightly, sexism in the garden can aggravate seasonal allergies, and the worst offenders may be surprising.
“Generally speaking, the plants with the pretty flowers that are fragrant are often the ones that are really more insect-pollinated,” says Bassett. “That means that the scent and the color are to attract insects for pollination.”
In more than 200 pages of Allergy-Free Gardening, Ogren has classified plants by their allergy potential on a scale of 1 to 10, with No. 10 plants being the most likely reasons you reach for the tissues. Ogren calls this trademarked scale OPALS, for Ogren Plant-Allergy Scale. For example, a live oak is rated 9 because it often produces the most pollen of the oaks for the longest time, Ogren writes.
In some cases, Ogren’s scale turns traditional landscaping advice on its head. Bamboo is a great allergy choice (2 rating) because it usually doesn’t flower. Yet it is despised by many because it is invasive and almost impossible to kill. Bradford pears (4) aren’t usually allergens, Ogren says, but they are a poor choice for the Dallas area because wind and ice often cause them to split in two.
Avoid pecan, according to Ogren, because it can cause severe allergies. But Ogren would recommend photinias, at 4 “not a great contributor of allergenic pollen.”
If you listen to Ogren, you will switch from Bermuda grass (10) to St. Augustine (4) and quit planting annual and perennial rye (at 10, an “often severe allergen”). Male junipers are the worst, at a 10, because they can release an explosion of pollen into the air.
“I think, by gardening smart, it can be a more friendly season for you throughout,” says Bassett.
Location, location, location.
Say you are allergic to oak trees. Does it help to avoid planting oaks in your yard? Or even more radically, should you remove them if you already have oaks?
“That’s fine, but the reality is, if they’re not in your yard, your neighbors or even people miles away, those oak tree pollen can be transported miles and, in some cases, hundreds of miles,” says Khan. “So whether you’ve got them in your yard or not may not really make that much of a difference, because you’re still probably going to be exposed to them.”
Bassett says there are really two problems — what’s in your yard and what’s in the region. “Most of the time, pollens blow from great distances. Ragweed and weeds can blow from 300, 400, 700 miles. But local effects are different. And that’s not something a pollen-counting station on the top of a roof of a hospital 15 miles away is going to pick up,” he says.
“Take care of your own yard first,” advises Ogren. “The closer you are, the worse the problem, the larger the dose.”
New York moves up in worst cities for allergies list. ABC News Meteorologist Jeff Smith explains why with Dr Clifford Bassett.
Dr. Clifford Bassett, the medical director at Allergy and Asthma Care of New York, joined “CBS This Morning” to discuss the how to survive what could be a brutal spring. He told the co-hosts that experts can already predict the severity of the allergy season.
“Precipitation, all that rain and snow, record temperatures, a lot of good stuff for those root systems of trees and plants – they’re primed and they’re ready to go. And they’re already releasing their pollens earlier,” he said. “All of these things point to earlier allergy seasons and these seasons a getting people unsuspectingly. They don’t realize they’re coming in. They don’t have colds and sinus (infections.) They have seasonal allergies.”
However, it’s not just this year’s weather causing an earlier allergy season. Bassett said there were multiple reasons people are being impacted earlier in the year, such as climate change.
Bassett said that if you live in a city, allergies could be worse because pollution “super charges” the pollen. Also, over the past 50 years there has been an increase of “male plants” used in urban areas and male plants produce more pollen.
If you suffer from allergy symptoms, Bassett said the best thing to do is to get tested to confirm a diagnosis and then create an allergy calendar.
“You want to pre-treat two weeks before the symptoms kick in, very important. There are fruits and vegetables that actually aggravate allergies,” he said. “By certain testing, we can identify them.”
Bassett also suggested that people who suffer from seasonal allergies wash their hair at night and avoid using hair gel. He said the styling product is a “pollen magnet” because it allows allergens to stick to your hair.
Believe it or not, there are 10 common houseplants that can actually help “clean” your home!
Studies show many common, indoor plants serve as natural “air cleaners,” using their leaves, roots and bacteria from their soil to rid the indoor environment of toxins present in the air, including benzene (found in tobacco smoke) and formaldehyde (a common indoor chemical that may irritate your eyes, nose and throat), among others.
Americans spend a lot of money each year on dehumidifiers, humidifiers and air filters to help relieve their allergies. But by simply adding some plants to your home décor, you can rev up your ability to remove indoor air pollutants from your home.
In fact, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states on its website that the “levels of air pollutants inside homes can far exceed the levels outside,” as a result of household cleaning products, heating and cooling systems, and other indoor sources.
The big 10 list of air-cleaning plants include:
- Peace Lily
- Bamboo Palm
- English Ivy
- Chinese Evergreen
- Gerbera Daisy
- Corn Plant
- Mother-in-Law’s Tongue
- Janet Craig Dracaena
- Pot Mum
Researchers recommend about 10-15 plants, or one plant for approximately every 100 square feet of space in your home.
Nasal and sinus allergies can cause a lot of misery, especially during the summer when peak pollen levels can be quite high. Let’s review some essential items that you should have available this summer for effective anti-allergy control.
Nasal Saline Solutions
Nasal saline solutions, either a dropper bottle or a neti-pot can really assist in keeping your sinuses and nasal passages clear and clean, and they serve to help dilute and wash away pollens and molds. This will result in fewer and less severe allergy symptoms.
Keep some over the counter hydrocortisone steroid cream to help with any skin rashes and mosquito bite reactions, especially during the prime biting times such as dawn and dusk. Along with the anti-itch cream, keep an instant ice compress for rashes, bites and the like. This provides a rapid reduction in redness and itchiness associated with both bites and simple rashes, which will bring relief.
Keep insect repellent sprays for adults and children and lotions in your kit to provide real anti-bite protection from mosquitoes as well as ticks this summer. The two major types of repellents are chemicals, such as DEET, and natural products such as oil of lemon and eucalyptus. Apply as directed – read the label – and wash them off when coming indoors.
It’s also a very good idea to include calamine lotion in your kit. This helps with minor skin irritations, bites, and plant-related rashes such as poison ivy. It can provide some soothing anti-itch comfort.
Epinephrine Auto Injectors
More than half a million of us in the US are treated each year in urgent care settings for a reaction to an insect sting from bees, wasps, hornets, yellow jackets and even fire ants. Get a prescription for two epinephrine auto injectors if you have an allergy to stinging insects, and of course, keep it with you particularly during the warm summer months.
Band-aids and Adhesive Tape
Band-aids, adhesive tape, instant cold compresses, anti-infection creams as well as antiseptics for minor cuts and abrasions are all great items to have as well, especially when your kids are around.
If you suffer from allergies, have a pollen mask and/or non-latex rubber gardening gloves, which will really help you if you’re working in the garden to reduce your chance of getting plant dermatitis.
For the more than twelve million who have food allergies, keep safe snacks on hand and a list of what food ingredients to avoid when away from home.
You may wish to adjust the contents of your survival kit this summer to meet your exact needs. Stay safe and try to be ready to prevent and control allergy related conditions.
For more information, please visit About.com.
Be aware of the pollen count and know what pollens you may be allergic to by simple in-office allergy skin tests, so you can plan ahead for summer outdoor activities.
Pollen Counts Lower by Water
As pollen counts are typically lower by a body of water, take your vacation at such places as beaches, rivers or lakes, especially during your peak allergy season.
On high pollen days, consider exercising indoors or perhaps later in the day when pollen levels are often lower. Take your allergy medications before going outside to prevent annoying symptoms.
Pollen Protection: Hat and Sunglasses
Wear a hat and big sunglasses to prevent pollen from landing on your hair or in your eyes. Don’t use hair gel and similar hair-care products that can act as a pollen magnet during the height of the allergy season.
Wash Hair at Night to Rinse off Pollen
Wash your hair at night to rinse away any pollen that may have landed there during the day. Avoid window fans to keep unwanted pollen from being blown into your home. Allergy unfriendly plants and flowers include: many types of daisies, dahlias, sunflowers, Black-eyed Susan, zinnia, privet and even lilac.
Combining these strategies can help you reduce exposure, and in my patient practice, it really does help to reduce allergy misery all summer long.
For more information, please visit About.com.