Archive for Allergies

What is an Allergic Rhinitis – Hay Fever?

By Atul N. Shah, MD, FACAAI, FAAAAI,
Medical Director, Center4AsthmaAllergy.com;
Founder, AmazingAllergist.com;
Bestselling Author of “Allergies, and Awesome You

If you can not reduce or come off the allergy medications, you are likely a candidate for allergy vaccination (also known as “allergy shots” or allergen immunotherapy).

Now the allergen immunotherapy is availble as oral drops as well, for patients who can not commit to weekly injections in a medical setting. The oral or sublingual drops are considered safe and can be administered at home. Either form of allergen immunotherapy helps reduce and in many patients, eliminate the dependence on allergy medications.

About the Author:
Atul N. Shah, MD, FACAAI, FAAAAI, is a board certified allergist and the bestselling author of the children’s book, Allergies, and Awesome You. He is also a medical director of www.Center4AsthmaAllergy.com and the founder of the educational website www.AmazingAllergist.com. He has earned an honor of fellowships in both the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology and the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. He has personally treated more than 20,000 patients, made a significant impact on more than 100,000 lives as an allergist and earned the nickname “AmazingAllergist” from his patients and peers. He has been recognized with various awards, including the America’s Top Physicians’ Award, the Patients’ Choice Award, and the Most Compassionate Physicians’ Award. He believes that every allergic child and individual has a potential to live a great life, allergy-free.

As a reader of this article, receive a FREE copy of Dr. Shah’s eBook– ALLERGY. You Asked, We Answered .
(FREE download at www.Center4AsthmaAllergy.com and www.AmazingAllergist.com)

You Can Live Better Despite Allergies – Less Medications, More Life.

By Atul N. Shah, MD, FACAAI, FAAAAI,
Medical Director, Center4AsthmaAllergy.com;
Founder, AmazingAllergist.com;
Bestselling Author of “Allergies, and Awesome You

If you know what triggers your allergy symptoms, either through observation, diary or with confirmation through skin tests or blood tests, the next thing is to take steps to minimize the exposure. As you know, there are things that can be done to reduce the need for allergy medications. The primary aim is to avoid the exposure to your allergy triggers to the extent possible.

Q: How do we avoid dust mites?

A: Dust mites are microscopic creatures found mainly in the mattress, pillows, and spaces that
collect dust. You can reduce your exposure significantly by encasing the pillows, mattress, and
box spring with dust mite barrier covers with zippers. Reducing the clutter, especially in the
bedroom, and removing stuffed toys can be very helpful.

Q: What can we do for pets?

A: The best solution is to find another home for your pet. If this is not possible, at least do not
allow pets in the bedroom, have someone wash the pets frequently, and consider air purifiers.
Also, washing hands and changing clothes after direct pet exposure can be helpful.

Q: Is there any way to reduce pollen exposure?

A: Keeping the bedroom windows closed and car windows rolled up during the high pollen
season can reduce exposure. Planning outdoor activities around the low pollen count and taking a
shower, washing hair, and changing clothes after outdoor exposure can help.

Q: What are the nondrug supportive methods?

A: Avoidance of allergen exposure is the beginning. Washing nose, sinuses, and eyes with saline
can remove allergens and restore normal functions. Some of the nutritional supplements and
herbs used under professional guidance can reduce the need for medications. Some nasal and
breathing exercises and facial massage and posturing are showing promising results in reducing
symptoms and draining secretions.

If you can not reduce or come off the allergy medications, you are likely a candidate for allergy vaccination (also known as “allergy shots” or allergen immunotherapy).

Now the allergen immunotherapy is availble as oral drops as well, for patients who can not commit to weekly injections in a medical setting. The oral or sublingual drops are considered safe and can be administered at home. Either form of allergen immunotherapy helps reduce and in many patients, eliminate the dependence on allergy medications.

About the Author:
Atul N. Shah, MD, FACAAI, FAAAAI, is a board certified allergist and the bestselling author of the children’s book, Allergies, and Awesome You. He is also a medical director of www.Center4AsthmaAllergy.com and the founder of the educational website www.AmazingAllergist.com. He has earned an honor of fellowships in both the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology and the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. He has personally treated more than 20,000 patients, made a significant impact on more than 100,000 lives as an allergist and earned the nickname “AmazingAllergist” from his patients and peers. He has been recognized with various awards, including the America’s Top Physicians’ Award, the Patients’ Choice Award, and the Most Compassionate Physicians’ Award. He believes that every allergic child and individual has a potential to live a great life, allergy-free.

As a reader of this article, receive a FREE copy of Dr. Shah’s eBook– ALLERGY. You Asked, We Answered .
(FREE download at www.Center4AsthmaAllergy.com and www.AmazingAllergist.com)

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Allergy and Rainy Weather

Managing Your Allergies in Rainy Weather

By Atul N. Shah, MD, FACAAI, FAAAAI,
Medical Director, Center4AsthmaAllergy.com;
Founder, AmazingAllergist.com;
Bestselling Author of “Allergies, and Awesome You

The nasal allergic condition is known as allergic rhinitis and it can be triggered by indoor or outdoor allergens. Some people have both, indoor and outdoor allergies. The common outdoor allergens include pollen from grass, trees, ragweed, weeds and mold spores. The indoor allergy triggers are mainly in the form of dust mites, pet dander, cockroaches and mold spores.

Short term rain is a blessing. The outdoor pollen usually settles down with rain and it spells relief for many allergy sufferers. Ongoing rain, followed by dry, warmer weather allows higher amount of pollen to circulate in the air which will increase allergy symptoms. If the moisture from the rain is allowed to affect the home or indoor environment, it can increase mold growth, exposure and allergy symptoms.

The mold and mildew needs dampness and gets worse in the basement, bathrooms and in the areas with the water leaks. Continued running of humidifiers despite the high moisture in the air during the rainy days, will add the possibility of mold growth. The dust mites found in the mattress, pillows and the carpet love humidity for their survival and growth. Ongoing high moisture will also increase dust mite exposure.

The tips to help reduce the allergy symptoms in rainy weather.

1, Manage humidity in the home environment. The aim is to bring the humidity around 40 to 50%.
Running dehumidifiers, especially in the basement, can be very helpful. This will reduce the mold growth.

2, Avoid carpet on the concrete or damp areas

3, Reduce clutter and do not store in the damp areas

4, Identify, repair and seal all the leaks to minimize dampness

5, If mold is present, get the professional help

6, If you need to handle stored items with visible mold growth, use a mask and protective gears

Some of the allergy sufferers also have non allergic rhinitis that gets worse with irritants. Some patients experience increased sinus pressure and nasal symptoms due to the high humidity, mainly due to associated non allergic rhinitis. Your allergy specialists can recommend the best options for you.

As a reader of this article, receive a FREE copy of Dr. Shah’s eBook– ALLERGY. You Asked, We Answered .
(FREE download at www.Center4AsthmaAllergy.com and www.AmazingAllergist.com)

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Ways to reduce the need for allergy medications

As you know, there are things that can be done to reduce the need for allergy medications. The primary aim is to avoid the exposure to your allergy triggers to the extent possible.

Q: How do we avoid dust mites?

A: Dust mites are microscopic creatures found mainly in the mattress, pillows, and spaces that
collect dust. You can reduce your exposure significantly by encasing the pillows, mattress, and
box spring with dust mite barrier covers with zippers. Reducing the clutter, especially in the
bedroom, and removing stuffed toys can be very helpful.

Q: What can we do for pets?

A: The best solution is to find another home for your pet. If this is not possible, at least do not
allow pets in the bedroom, have someone wash the pets frequently, and consider air purifiers.
Also, washing hands and changing clothes after direct pet exposure can be helpful.

Q: Is there any way to reduce pollen exposure?

A: Keeping the bedroom windows closed and car windows rolled up during the high pollen
season can reduce exposure. Planning outdoor activities around the low pollen count and taking a
shower, washing hair, and changing clothes after outdoor exposure can help.

Q: What are the nondrug supportive methods?

A: Avoidance of allergen exposure is the beginning. Washing nose, sinuses, and eyes with saline
can remove allergens and restore normal functions. Some of the nutritional supplements and
herbs used under professional guidance can reduce the need for medications. Some nasal and
breathing exercises and facial massage and posturing are showing promising results in reducing
symptoms and draining secretions.

If you can not reduce or come off the allergy medications, you are likely a candidate for allergy vaccination (also known as “allergy shots” or allergen immunotherapy).

Allergy Diagnosis

Q: How do you diagnose allergy?

A: First of all, we ask a lot of questions about your symptoms, environment, family, what is
working, what is not working, etc. We examine your body for clues that might suggest the
presence or absence of allergies. The next step is to do some tests to confirm or eliminate allergy
as the cause of your symptoms. The allergy tests include prick skin tests, scratch skin tests, or
blood tests. Allergists prefer skin tests that can be done while you are in the office.

Q: What are the needle-free allergy skin tests?

A: The latest methods of allergy skin tests involve using disposable plastic devices that feel like
a brush, which are applied on the upper back or on the forearms. We use various testing liquids
(allergens) on the tips to check for individual allergies to indoor, outdoor, or food allergens. The
list can include grass pollen, tree pollen, ragweed, weeds, dust mites, dog cat dander, mold, milk,
eggs, wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, fish, and many more. Once the test is applied, you
wait for twenty minutes without touching or scratching. The test results are interpreted based on
the size, swelling, and redness around each dot. In the presence of the true allergies, these dots
get red and look like mosquito bites.

Q: What do the positive allergy skin tests mean?

A: The positive skin tests to different allergens reflect the presence of immunoglobulin E (IgE),
made against these allergens in the allergic individual. The exposure to these allergens has a
potential to trigger an overactive immune response that can cause allergy symptoms. The severity
of allergy symptoms depends on many factors.

Q: Who needs allergy blood tests?

A: Patients who cannot be tested on the skin as well as some of the skin-tested patients may need
blood tests.

Q: How do you fix allergies, once diagnosed?

A: The first step is to avoid or reduce the exposure to these allergens. The second step is to use
nondrug supportive measures to reduce the need for medications. The third step is to fi nd a
combination of medicines to get one’s life back to normal. The goal is to use the minimum
number of medicines for the shortest duration possible. The most important and last step is to
consider allergy vaccines to modify overactive immune responses.

AmazingAllergist’s Allergy Basics

Q: What is an allergy?

A: When our body’s immune mechanisms overreact to exposure, it is called an allergy. For
example, when a person without allergies to tree pollen inhales the pollen, there is no response.
If Jack inhales tree pollen, his body will overreact to the pollen and have an allergic response,
making him sneeze and have watery eyes, a runny nose, etc.

Q: Is allergy suggestive of a weak immune system?

A: No. The immune system protects us from getting infections and helps clear them once we are
exposed to germs. When the immune system gets over activated in response to other exposures
like pollen, it is considered an allergy. So, in simple terms, allergy is an overactive immune system
and not a weak immune system.

Q: What are allergic rhinitis and allergic conjunctivitis?

A: Rhinitis simply means the inflammation of the nose, and conjunctivitis is the inflammation of
the eyes. When this is related to allergic response, it is labeled so. When the nose and the eyes are
exposed to the allergy triggers, they produce chemicals under their lining. This makes them red
and swollen, or inflamed. This inflammation is the reason for all the symptoms. Someone may
have more involvement of the nose or the eyes than the other.

Q: What are the signs and symptoms of allergic rhinitis and allergic conjunctivitis?

A: You can have one, many, or all of these common signs and symptoms: runny nose, sneezing,
itchy nose, red nose, swelling inside the nose, congestion, stuffy nose, mouth breathing, snoring,
sinus pressure, headaches, nasal tone, horizontal line on the outside of the nose, nosebleeds,
throat clearing, itchy throat, postnasal drip, itchy ears, fatigue, not feeling well, itchy eyes,
tearing, red eyes, swollen eyes, feeling of sand in the eyes, light sensitivity, cough. Symptoms of
the eyes or nose can be present in the absence of other symptoms.

Q: What allergic conditions do allergy specialists treat?

A: Besides the seasonal allergic rhinitis and allergic conjunctivitis, allergy specialists can help with
similar conditions from indoor allergies, like dust mites, dog and cat dander, mold, cockroaches,
etc. The other conditions associated with allergies are listed here: asthma, eczema, food allergy,
hives, sinus conditions, insect venom allergy, drug allergy, latex allergy, chemical and cosmetics
contact allergy, poison ivy rash, plant dermatitis, frequent infections, ear infections, chronic
cough, etc.

Relief from Seasonal Allergies

Relief from Seasonal Allergies

Seasonal allergy symptoms can be prevented and minimized with certain steps. If you have seasonal symptoms every year, you can get tested to identify the triggers. Depending on where you live and the time of the year when you have symptoms, your triggers can be tree pollen, grass pollen, weeds, ragweed or mold spores. Limiting outdoor activities when the pollen is very high and staying indoors with air conditioning can reduce exposure to pollen and other triggers. Keeping the bed room windows closed and car windows rolled up while driving can be helpful. You may consider taking a shower, washing the hair and changing the clothes after pollen exposure outdoors. There are many prescription and non-prescription alternatives available to start before the pollen season. Allergy Vaccination or allergy immunotherapy is a great treatment option for a long term relief.

AmazingAllergist's Five Steps to Awesome Life, allergy-free.
 
1. Recognize the allergy symptoms – runny nose, sneezing, itchy nose, stuffy nose, post nasal drip, scratchy throat, itchy palate, itchy watery eyes, red eyes and ask for help.
2. Get tested- identify the allergy triggers. This can be done through needle free allergy skin tests or through the blood tests.
3. Avoid these triggers to the extent possible.
4. Use supportive methods and medications to alleviate the symptoms
5. Get started on Allergen immunotherapy or allergy vaccination (this helps you develop tolerance to your allergy triggers) 
Those with seasonal allergies, especially children, can at times be very symptomatic. These symptoms affect the sleep, day time alertness and day to day functioning. The quality of life is very much compromised and allergic individuals do not enjoy outdoor life while everyone around them is having outdoor fun. Help your children understand what allergies are and what they can do to live great lives, allergy-free. The www.AmazingAllergist.com has a lot of resources, including the stories of others who got better, to empower your allergic children. The information and education are the usual starting points to a future of an allergy free season. The support of family and friends is very valuable at any stage of being miserable with allergies.

Pet Allergies

 
Pet Allergies
 
Are you afraid your favorite four-legged friend is making you sneeze? Do you get itchy, scratchy or sneezy around your pet? Don’t fret. Help is available. Here we’ll help you determine the symptoms of a pet allergy and give you some tips on how to control it and get treatment.
 
More than 70 percent of U.S. households have a dog or cat. An estimated 10 percent of the population may be allergic to animals. Approximately 20 to 30 percent of individuals with asthma have pet allergies. Larger animals such as horses, goats, cows, chickens, ducks and geese, even though kept outdoors, can also cause symptoms in allergic individuals. The number of pets in the U.S. is estimated at more than 100,000,000. This large number increases the likelihood of exposure to animals and so, the development of allergies.
 
Pet allergies commonly have symptoms that involve the nose, eyes, ears, throat, upper airway, lungs and skin. Symptoms usually occur after direct or indirect exposure to pets. The symptoms may include one or all of these – runny nose, sneezing, congestion, itchy nose, eyes, throat or ears, red eyes, fluid in the ears, headache, sinus pressure, cough, wheezing, asthma, eczema, rash, hives and so on.
There is a frequent misconception about dogs and cats that shorthaired animals cause fewer problems. It’s the dander (skin scales) that causes the most significant allergic reactions – not the length or amount of hair on the pet. Allergens are also found in pet's saliva and urine. If the person exposed to the pet has a pollen allergy, bringing the pet in from outside after a walk during pollen season can bring pollen allergens inside to trigger allergies.
There are two common ways to find out the causes of your allergy symptoms – blood tests or skin tests. Your physician can order specific blood tests for different allergens including dog and cat dander. These tests measure an antibody (protein) against the allergen (trigger) in question. You may consider seeing an allergist, who can do skin tests in his office.  A simple skin test can reveal what you’re allergic to within 30 minutes after the tests are completed.
Once you have learned about what allergies you have, you can take proper steps to prevent or minimize your exposure to pet allergens. This can help to reduce pet-related allergy symptoms and improve your quality of life.
The best solution is to find another home for your pet. If this is not possible, at least keep pets out of the bedroom, have someone wash the pets frequently and consider air purifiers. Also, washing hands and changing clothes after direct pet exposure can be helpful. A caring allergist can work with you to develop an individual plan that works for you and your pet to ensure you both have great quality of life.

Exercise Induced Asthma

Exercise Induced Asthma
Kids and teenagers should be able to enjoy sports, run track and live a normal life. Experiencing a cough every time they engage in some type of physical activity is not normal and must be addressed.
There are many possible reasons for coughing during and after physical activities. The most common cause among children, adolescents and young adults is a type of asthma called exercise induced asthma or exercise triggered asthma.
The overriding symptom of exercise induced asthma is a cough. It may or may not be associated with wheezing (a whistle-like sound coming from chest while breathing) but depends on many factors including: type of exercise, with or without warm up time, indoor versus outdoor activity, cold air, and the presence of other triggers and associated allergic asthma.
Pay attention to any symptoms and discuss them with your pediatrician, family physician or a specialist. This is a serious condition and must be dealt with. Severe asthma attacks during physical activities have claimed the lives of teenagers. This does not mean your teen should stop participating in sports and skip gym class. Instead, this is a call to take preventative action. See your doctor, discuss your symptoms and get the right advice.
In exercise induced asthma, the patient’s airway is becoming narrow during exercise. This can happen if you have asthma or have developed exercise induced asthma. Your doctor can determine this by using tests like a peak flow meter or spirometer. These tests are simple and help significantly in making the correct diagnosis.
 
Tests are done before and after exercise to note any changes in the patient’s airway. These computerized tests are performed in your doctor’s or specialist's office. Once a diagnosis is made, there are many possible treatments. The goal should be to prevent your symptoms from happening in the first place. Some warm up time before exercise and avoiding cold air may help to an extent. You may need some prescription pills or inhalers before beginning exercise.
 
Please seek treatment. This condition affects your teenager’s quality of life and can be life-threatening if ignored. Teens can enjoy sports and without coughing once you seek expert help and receive the right management.

Hay Fever

Hay Fever

Around this time of the year, we experience high pollen in the air. Children are outside playing soccer, baseball and other activities, and the natural exposure to pollen is unavoidable. If you do not have allergies, being outside is not an issue. Once someone has developed allergies, the pollen exposure can be troublesome and produce a wide range of symptoms.
For example, allergy related symptoms of the eyes are known as allergic conjunctivitis in medical terms. They are one of the components of hay fever. Red, puffy, swollen, itchy, and watery eyes are likely related to a pollen allergy.
An estimated 26-30 million Americans have hay fever symptoms each year. The usual symptoms include one or all of these — runny nose, violent and prolonged spells of sneezing, stuffy nose, itchy nose, itchy eyes, red-swollen eyes, watery eyes, mucus in the eyes, itchy ears, itchy-scratchy throat, sore throat, itchy palate and so on.
Hay fever may affect sinuses and lungs causing headaches, bronchitis or seasonal asthma. The warm, sunny days of spring allow plants to grow and produce pollen. Mild breezes cause pollen to travel longer distances through the air. When pollen is high, it comes indoors through doors and open windows.
Keeping bedroom windows closed and car windows rolled up while driving may help reduce pollen exposure.  It’s also helpful to wash your eyes, especially after outdoor activities. This simple procedure significantly helps by lowering the amount of pollen lodged in the eyes. You may consult a physician or a specialist who will recommend eye drops, nose sprays and pills, based on the severity to manage your symptoms. Remember to ask about eye drops and other treatment options you may begin before the season starts so you can prevent the problem next year. If managed properly, allergies should not hold you back from enjoying outdoor activities.