Wednesday, September 17, 2014

How Can You Be Prepared for Ragweed Season?

Fall is in the air and with it brings ragweed pollen! 

Did you know?
  • Ragweed pollen, considered to be one of the most allergenic pollens begins pollinating in mid August and goes through mid fall. 
  • One in 10 Americans suffers from sensitivity to ragweed pollen- runny nose, sneezing, itchy watery eyes, coughing, and asthma attacks are just some of the symptoms you might experience if you're allergic to ragweed. 
  • One plant alone can produce up to a billion pollen grains.  The grains travel over 100 miles! 
  •  Ragweed was so prevalent in NYC in the early 1900's that there was a movement to remove it from the streets.  Despite their efforts ragweed still grows in the city. 
Below is what ragweed looks like. 
Common ragweed vegetative plants

What Can you Do to Be Prepared for Ragweed Season?  Here are 5 Easy Tips to Keep you Feeling Healthy!

1) Get a jump start- Mid-August is when ragweed starts to bloom.  Mark your calendars so you can start your medications before the plants get into full swing.

2) Keep pollen outside- shower if spending the day in the park, wipe dogs down with a wet wash clothe and keep your windows closed to prevent the pollen from entering your home.

3) See an Allergist-
an allergist will test you to identify what you're sensitive to and create a personalized plan for you and give you advice on how to prevent symptoms.

4) Consider a cure- if non-prescription medication isn't controlling your symptoms, consider allergy shots and/or sublingual treatment for allergies.  Recently released there are now pills you can take to orally desensitize yourself to ragweed pollen called Ragwitek.

5) Don't stop your medications- Because the nasal and eye symptoms of associated with ragweed allergies can linger after the pollen can no longer be detected in the air , don’t stop your allergy medication immediately.

Need personalized help from Dr. Jennifer Collins?  We are glad to help- visit our website Gramercy Allergy & Asthma to book an appointment or call the office- 212-679-3574.

Monday, September 15, 2014

How Can You Keep Your Skin Beautiful When You Have Eczema?

Eczema, an itchy red rash, is a common cause of embarrassment for the 30 million people who are affected.  It can affect any part of your body, but typical areas are the backs of knees and arms, and usually starts in childhood.  Eczema is typically associated with other allergic diseases like food allergies, hay fever and asthma.   Caring for skin when you have eczema can be problematic and often prompts the question what's the best way of keeping your skin beautiful and in control when you have eczema? 

To keep you skin looking beautiful and healthy you need to know the cause, symptoms and  triggers of your eczema.

What Causes Eczema?
  • The cause of eczema is unknown but it's often inherited. 
  • There is an itch scratch cycle that causes skin to be inflamed and irritated.
  • A variety of factors including allergic sensitizations to dust mites, roach, pollens, and chemical, changes in temperature and humidity. 
  • Exposure to these items can cause an unexpected flare of itchy skin. 
What Are Symptoms of Eczema?
  • Dry irritated skin
  • Intense Itching
  • Red patches
  • Scaling, oozing or scratching till you bleed
What Are the Triggers of Eczema?
  • Did you know that eczema is often triggered by allergies?  Common things like dust mites, roach, and pollens can cause a flare
  • In children eczema is often caused by a food sensitivity to egg and/or milk.
  • Chemicals like fragrance and preservatives in your make-up, personal care products and sunscreens can also cause a flare.
  • See an allergist to get evaluated and tested to determine what is driving your eczema.  They will test you for environmental & food allergies and may suggest testing for chemical sensitivities.
How Can you Best Care for Your Skin?
  • Eczema is a state with the skin is dryer than someone with non-eczematous skin
  • Use luke warm water in the shower with a gentle soap
  • Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize!  Keeping your skin moist with lubricants will help it heal and protect it from outside exposures.
  • After showering, pat skin dry and then immediately apply a moisturizer to trap in any water on your skin.
  • Hydrate from the inside out with plenty of water.
  • Avoid scratching.
What more information on a specific plan for you eczema?  Call the office to schedule an appointment 212-679-3574 or visit our website to  book an appointment.

Want more information on eczema?  Reach out to the National Eczema Foundation

Want more information on me?  Check out our website Gramercy Allergy & Asthma.

Monday, August 25, 2014

What Should You Do if You Are Allergic To Vaccines?

Whether it be vaccination for the flu or meningitis, everyone is talking about vaccines this time of the year.    Public vaccination against diseases is one of the most important scientific achievements of all time and has increased our health and life span.  Summer is the perfect time to get your children vaccinated before returning to school or starting college.

But it raises an interesting dilemma for some persons with vaccine allergy. What should you do if you suspect you are allergic to vaccines?

What is Vaccine Allergy?
  • A reaction to vaccination can be either:
    • Immediate- these reactions take place within 1 hour of vaccine administration.  Symptoms include hives, swelling, itching, or anaphylaxis
    • Delayed - these reactions take place more than 1 day after the vaccination.  Symptoms generally include a total body rash and possibly a fever.
What Causes Vaccine Allergy?
  • Depending on the vaccine,  there are different components that can cause an allergic reaction.  Common components that are known to cause an allergic reaction are:
    • Gelatin
    • Egg
    • Chicken
    • Cow's Milk
    • Yeast
    • Antibiotics (neomycin, polymyxin B, and streptomycin) 
    • Latex
    • Thimerosal, aluminum, and phenoxyethanol 
Does Being Allergic to A Component Mean you Can't Be Vaccinated?
  • No. If you suspect an allergic reaction to a vaccine you should seek evaluation by an allergist/immunologist.
  • They will test you to determine the cause of the allergic reaction.
  • Once they've identified the allergen, they will help formulate a plan for safe vaccination.
Bottom Line
  • Vaccination against disease is one of the most important ways we have against preventing disease
  • Don't let suspected allergy prevent you or your child from vaccination
  • See an allergist to get help in determining what the allergy is and how you can proceed safely with vaccination.
Need help?  Please call or visit our office at 212-679-3574 or 205 East 22nd Street, NY, NY 10010

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Does Diet Affect the Development of Allergies?

Pregnant and new moms often ask me about the role of nutrition in developing allergies.  Rightfully so.  Over the past decade, the incidence of allergic disease has increased from 20 to 30%.  Peanut and other food allergies are rampant in schools.  Asthma in children is on the rise.  The incidence only continues to increase for unknown reasons.  They want to know- “Can diet cause or prevent allergies?” 
I’ve written before (Food Allergy- the ugly, the bad, the good....) about the complex interaction between nutrition, environmental exposures, genetics, infections and other unknowns play a role in the whether a person develops allergies or not. 

There is some promising news though….

Researchers in Europe in a quest to find the answer looked at the role of a “diverse” diet during the first year of life and the development of food allergies, asthma and atopic dermatitis (eczema).  

They followed the diets of 856 children from year 1 to 6 years of age looking at the development of eczema, allergic rhinitis, asthma and food allergies. 

What did they find? 
  • Children with a more diverse diet were at lower risk for the development of allergic disease.
  • This included- asthma, food allergies, allergic rhinitis, and eczema.

Bottom line- Does Diet Affect the Development of Allergies?
  • We don’t know the answer to the cause and more importantly, how to prevent the development of all types of allergic diseases.
  • Nutrition does appear to influence the development of allergies.
  • Eating a more diverse diet appears when you are young has an inverse relationship with the development of allergies.

 Want to read more?  Abstract

Have specific questions about allergies?  Please call the office 212-679-3574 or go to our on-line appointment scheduler .

Thursday, July 17, 2014

How Can You Travel Safely With Allergies?

Summer is finally in full swing!  Bags are packed and people are heading out of town to enjoy a respite from the city heat.  Traveling with allergies can be difficult and I've put together these easy tips that I hope will make your trip more focused on R & R and less about your allergies.

Have food allergies?

  • Do a quick search to see what restaurants in the area are friendly for those with allergies.
  • Have a travel anaphylaxis kit to carry in you carry on or purse include quick melt antihistamines and your injectable epinephrine.

Have asthma?
  • Bring an extra inhaler along with you in your bag.  You never know what kind of environmental triggers you'll be exposed to in your vacation home.
  • Check out common triggers/environmental exposures you might face in that location.  Weather.com can give you specific information about pollen and mold counts depending on where you are headed.
  • Ask your doctor to put together an emergency supply of medicine that you can bring with you in case you get sick- this will help keep you out of an unfamiliar emergency room,
Have skin allergies?
  • Bring travel size versions of your favorite sunscreens, moisturizers, shampoos/conditioners
  • Ask your doctor for a small tube of a corticosteroid to carry with you just in case; no one wants to be itchy and scratchy while on vacation
Going somewhere where they speak another language?
  • If you have food allergies  translate your food allergy before you go.  It might help to put this on a card and carry it with you to make sure there's no confusion
  • In many countries asthma and allergy medications are over the counter.  Translate your problem so you'll be able to effectively communicate with the pharmacist there.
With these simple effective tips, your vacation will be filled with laughter, love, and beautiful memories rather than a trip the doctor

Want more directed tips on allergies and travel?  Feel free to email me at jcollins@gramercyallergy.com, click here to schedule an appointment, call the office 212-679-3574 or check out our new website- www.gramercyallergy.com

Friday, June 13, 2014

And the winner is....Benzophphenones Contact Allergen of 2014!

Benzophenone recently named contact allergen of 2014! 

Now that summer is almost upon us, sunscreen allergy is a popular topic.  Even more fitting is that benzophenone was recently named contact allergy of the year by the Contact Dermatitis society of North America.

What are Benzophenones?
  • Chemical UV light absorber used in sunscreen, hair spray, shampoo, detergent bars, nail polish and plastic lens filters.
  • Originally used before the 1950's to extend the life of paints and varnishes, in the 1950's it was introduced into sunscreen.
  • Can you believe that benzophenones now rank as one of the most 4 common agents used in personal care products according to a recent article in Dermatitis!
  • It also ranks as one of the top chemicals to cause allergy!
What type of reaction can you have from Benzophenone?
  • Applying products with benzophenone can lead to:
    •  a local rash
    • a rash that come out when the sun hits it (photosensitivity),
    • itchy bumps like hives
    • a severe allergic reaction like anaphylaxis.
What should you do if you suspect you have Benzophenone allergy?

  • Talk to your allergist about being tested for chemical allergies.
  • Benzophenone allergy is one of the most common causes of contact dermatitis.
Want to read more about Benzophenone Allergy?

Need further help with an suspected benzophenone allergy?  We do patch testing in the office to all components of sunscreen.

Call us 212-679-3574 or click here to schedule an appointment.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Why do Apples and Other Fruits Make My Mouth Itch?

Wow doesn't the fruit in the farmers markets and grocery stores look delicious?  It's such a treat to see fresh cherries, nectarines, and peaches.  But for many, biting into these fruits can make their mouth and lips itch! In some cases, small blisters might form. Bizarre right?  And isn't it funny that they can eat them when they are cooked or peeled? 

So what's going on?  Can you really be allergic to raw fruit?  Yes!

Why do Apples and Other Fruits Make My Mouth Itch?
  • This is a common problem called oral allergy syndrome. 
  •  People allergic to raw fruits are most likely also allergic to tree or weed pollens.
  • The protein that causes the allergy is heat sensitive.  Heating it changes it so that it doesn't cause a reaction.
  • Many people think it's the pesticides on the fruit that causes the itching. 
  • Actually the protein is also present on many tree fruits and nuts.  Apple being the most common offender, but any of the stone fruits (cherries, plums, nectarines, and peaches) and other "tree" fruits like pears can cause the problem. 
Want more information about oral allergy syndrome or have an allergy question you need answered?  Call the office for an appointment 212-679-3574 or click here to schedule an appointment.