Drugs.com: Can EpiPens still work after freezing?

FRIDAY, Nov. 16, 2018

Your EpiPen will still work after being frozen, researchers report.

The epinephrine auto-injector can be lifesaving in cases of severe allergic reaction, and millions of Americans carry the devices.

In this study, researchers "took 104 same-lot pairs of [EpiPens] and froze one of each pair for 24 hours, while the other was kept at recommended temperatures as a 'control,' " said study co-author Dr. Julie Brown. She specializes in pediatrics at Seattle Children's Hospital.

"Once the frozen devices were thawed, they and their controls were injected into meat. The meat and devices were weighed both before and after firing," Brown said in a news release from the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI).

"The change in meat weight and device weight was similar between frozen-thawed devices and their controls, indicating that freezing did not affect how the [auto-injectors] functioned once they were thawed," Brown explained.

The study was to be presented Friday at the ACAAI annual meeting, in Seattle. Such research is considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Dr. Anne Ellis, chair of the ACAAI anaphylaxis committee, said, "It's important for those who have severe, life-threatening reactions to their allergies to have confidence in the [EpiPens] they carry and know they'll work in an emergency. This study showed that even when an [EpiPen] has been unintentionally frozen, the risk is low that it will malfunction."

But, "the study did not examine the amount of epinephrine remaining in the solution after it had been frozen," Ellis noted. "We know epinephrine is a somewhat unstable compound, and that's why the shelf life of [EpiPens] is so short."

While an auto-injector will work after being frozen and thawed, it's a good idea to talk with your allergist about a prescription for a new device if yours does freeze, the researchers added.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more on epinephrine injection.

© 2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: November 2018



Drugs.com: Dining out with allergies is tough, but these steps can help

FRIDAY, Nov. 16, 2018

When you have serious food allergies, eating at a restaurant can literally mean risking your life. But new research suggests you can take steps to protect yourself when dining out.

In fact, the more steps you take to protect yourself from exposure to the allergic substance, the less likely you are to have an allergic reaction, the study found.

The researchers asked 39 people with allergies (or their parents) about 25 behaviors people might do before eating out. Nineteen of those surveyed had experienced a food allergy reaction while dining at a restaurant.

"Overall, when you look at the results and the strategies that people used, people who had an allergic reaction [after eating out] used significantly less strategies compared to non-reactors. Non-reactors used an average of 15 strategies, reactors used an average of six," said study author Dr. Justine Ade, a pediatric resident at University Hospitals' Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital in Cleveland.

Up to 15 million people may have food allergies, according to the nonprofit organization FARE (Food Allergy and Research Education). Although 170 foods have been reported to cause allergic reactions, there are eight common foods that cause allergies in the United States: milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish and shellfish. FARE reports that sesame allergy is also a growing threat.

Eating food outside the home has been linked to numerous deaths in people with food allergies, according to the researchers.

Although the study didn't evaluate how well any particular strategy worked, it did note how often people used individual strategies.

The top five strategies people used included:

  • Speaking to the waiter on arrival (80 percent),

  • Ordering food with simple ingredients (77 percent),

  • Double-checking food before eating (77 percent),

  • Avoiding restaurants with higher likelihood of contamination (74 percent),

  • Reviewing ingredients on a restaurant website (72 percent).

The strategies used least often included:

  • Placing food allergy order separately (23 percent),

  • Using a personal allergy card (26 percent),

  • No longer eating at restaurants (39 percent),

  • Choosing a chain restaurant (41 percent),

  • Going to a restaurant during off-peak hours (44 percent).

Ade said it may sound like a lot of work just to eat out, but "these are things that become second nature for some people, and it probably takes less than five minutes to do most of these things."

People with food allergies aren't the only ones who worry about what's on their restaurant plate. Alice Bast, CEO of Beyond Celiac, a nonprofit health and awareness group, said that every time someone with celiac disease eats out, they play "gluten roulette."

Celiac disease is a digestive disorder, and symptoms are triggered when someone with the disease eats gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye.

"Dining out is one of the biggest challenges of living with celiac disease," Bast said. "When you're out of control of your food, it's easy to feel anxious about the possibility of becoming sick. There are always risks when someone else is preparing your meal, especially if they don't take it seriously, or if they are just unaware of how to take the appropriate precautions."

Both experts said it's important to be vigilant and take the steps that you can to make sure your food is as safe as it can be. In the case of food allergies, Ade said it's important to carry an epinephrine injection pen every time you eat out.

Ade will present the findings on Friday at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology annual meeting, in Seattle. Research presented at meetings is considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

FARE (Food Allergy and Research Education) offers more about dining out with food allergies.

© 2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: November 2018



Drugs.com: Many infants with milk allergy seem to outgrow it

FRIDAY, Nov. 16, 2018

Milk allergy affects more than half of American infants who have food allergies in their first year of life, a new study finds.

However, study lead author Christopher Warren said, "Our findings suggest that while milk allergy is relatively common during infancy, many children are likely to outgrow their milk allergies.

"We observed that while an estimated 53 percent of food-allergic infants under age 1 have a milk allergy, the number drops to 41 percent of 1- to 2-year-olds, 34 percent of 3- to 5-year-olds and 15 percent of 11- to 17-year-olds," Warren said in a news release from the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.

Warren is a doctoral candidate at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine.

For the study, the researchers surveyed more than 53,000 parents nationwide. The investigators found that more than 2 percent of all children under age 5 have a cow's milk allergy, and 53 percent of food-allergic infants under age 1 have this type of allergy.

Study co-author Dr. Ruchi Gupta pointed out that confusion exists over what a real milk allergy looks like. She is a professor of pediatrics and medicine at Northwestern Medicine, in Chicago.

"A child may have a milk intolerance that his parents mistake for a milk allergy," Gupta said. "It's important that any child suspected of having a milk allergy have the allergy confirmed with an allergist."

A food allergy of any kind can have a big effect on a household, including food costs and quality of life, she noted.

"A child with a milk allergy should receive counseling on how to avoid milk, but also on what it means to unnecessarily cut out foods. You don't want to get rid of necessary nutrients," Gupta said.

The study also found that only 26 percent of milk-allergic children in the United States have a current epinephrine auto-injector prescription. An "EpiPen" can save a child's life if a serious allergic reaction occurs.

"Parents need to make sure they have an epinephrine auto-injector available and should talk to their child's allergist if they have any questions," Gupta said.

The study was scheduled for presentation Friday at the annual meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, in Seattle.

Research presented at meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

More information

Food Allergy Research and Education has more on milk allergy.

© 2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: November 2018



The Bump: Parents who lick babies’ pacifiers clean may protect them from allergies, study suggests

While the sheer thought of sucking on your baby’s pacifier to give it a quick clean may (quite literally) leave a bad taste in your mouth, allergy experts are saying it could have some unanticipated benefits.

New research being presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting suggests a link between parental sucking on a pacifier and a lower allergic response among young kids.

For the study, researchers followed 128 new moms for a year and a half after giving birth, periodically checking in to ask them how they cleaned their babies’ pacifiers. Some of the infants in the study were already at a higher risk for developing allergies due to family history—about 18 percent of the mothers had asthma, and about 8 percent had eczema.

The findings? Children of mothers who sucked on pacifiers had lower levels of IgE—a type of antibody related to allergic responses in the body. And while there are some exceptions, higher IgE levels typically indicate a greater risk of having allergies and asthma.

Out of the mothers included in the study, 74 had infants who used a pacifier, and the majority washed them by hand. That said, 41 percent then sterilized the pacifiers and 12 percent put them in their own mouths to clean.

While the study does heed interesting results, experts warn parents to tread with caution.

“This was not a cause-effect study,” says Eliane Abou-Jaoude, MD and lead author on the study. “We can’t say these children won’t develop allergies later on. We only have IgE levels until 18 months of age.”

The research team plans to follow up with the families to see whether any of the kids are eventually diagnosed with an allergy in coming years.

“We are not telling parents to clean their child's pacifier by sucking on the pacifier,” says Abou-Jaoude. “Bad bacteria can be transferred by a parent sucking on the pacifier and then giving it to their child, exposing them to other infections.”

So while researchers may not be encouraging parents to nix their pacifier cleaning strategy and embrace the sucking sensation, if nothing else, it’s a friendly reminder that kids don’t necessarily have to be raised in a 100 percent bacteria-free environment.



Healthline: New vaccine may protect people with celiac disease from gluten exposure

The vaccine is now in clinical trials. Researchers hope someday it’ll allow people with celiac disease to have gluten in their diets.

There aren’t a lot of treatments now for people with celiac disease who get exposed to gluten.

Researchers are studying a vaccine that could protect people with celiac disease from accidental exposure to gluten.

The hope is that someday the vaccine will allow people with the ailment to return to a diet that includes grains such as wheat, rye, and barley.

The Nexvax2 vaccine has cleared initial safety testing and 150 people are now being enrolled in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase II clinical trial to test the treatment’s effectiveness.

Testing will be conducted in the United States, Australia, and New Zealand by vaccine developer ImmusanT Inc.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease where the body’s T cells attack tissues and organs in response to the presence of gluten proteins found in grain.

The result is inflammation in the gut and throughout the body, causing acute digestive symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, and bloating as well as fatigue, nausea, and weight loss.

“Once activated by gluten, these T cells wreak havoc on a number of organ systems in the body, including the gut, the skin, and hematologic system, increasing risk for the development of lymphoma,” Dr. Tania Elliott, a spokesperson for the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, told Healthline.

Celiac disease also raises the risk of osteoporosis, anemia, cancer, and other health problems.

Celiac disease is sometimes called a gluten allergy, but unlike pet or pollen allergies, celiac is genetically inherited.

Up to 90 percent of people with the disease carry a genetic variant called HLA-DQ2.5, which is involved in immune response.

About 3 million people in the United States live with celiac disease.

“Celiac disease is unique in that we know the specific gluten peptides that trigger bowel inflammation, making it a model disease to try this therapy,” Dr. Carol Semrad, a gastroenterologist at the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center and a NexVax2 researcher, told Healthline.

“If successful, this vaccine will change the lives of those with celiac disease, allowing them to tolerate gluten, and holds promise for therapy of other autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes mellitus and rheumatoid arthritis.”

“There’s a huge unmet need for treatment,” Leslie Williams, ImmusanT chief executive officer, told Healthline. “Initially, we want to protect people from inadvertent exposure to gluten, and ultimately we hope to allow them to return to an unrestricted diet.”

Teaching T cells to chill out

The vaccine “reprograms” the T cells by exposing them to isolated gluten peptides.

In the clinical trial, dosing will increase gradually over the course of four months.

Researchers will use both biomarkers for inflammation and endoscopic examination to monitor immune response in the participants.

In the phase I trial, the dose of gluten peptides maxed out at the equivalent of consuming two loaves of bread without patients suffering ill effects, said Williams.

Study subjects, who all carry the HLA-DQ2.5 gene variant, will continue to self-administer weekly boosters of Nexvax2 after the initial treatment to determine if the immunosuppressive effect can be maintained in the long term.

“We think over time that durable tolerance will happen with patients,” said Williams.

She noted that the process can often take years with allergies and organ transplants.

If Nexvax2 clears all three stages of testing as currently scheduled and receives approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it could hit the market as a treatment for celiac disease as early as 2023, ImmusanT officials said.

The “desensitization” approach taken with Nexvax2 is similar to that commonly used to restore tolerance of other types of allergens.

“By preventing T-cells from continuing to cause inflammation in the small intestine, the injured tissue heals and patients would be able to resume an unrestricted diet and enjoy improved health,” according to an ImmusanT statement. “Booster shots of Nexvax2 would offer periodic reinforcements of the treatment to establish a prolonged tolerance to gluten.”

Williams said that while suppression of the immune response must be handled carefully, Nexvax2 is a “very targeted suppression of an antigen-specific immune response.”

Going beyond diet

Study subjects will maintain a gluten-free diet before and throughout the duration of the study.

“The gluten-free diet is the only current treatment for celiac disease, but it is onerous, complex and not always effective,” said Jason Tye-Din, PhD, principal investigator at the Royal Melbourne Hospital and head of celiac research at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne, Australia.

“Even the most diligent patients can suffer the adverse effects of accidental exposure. This study will test if Nexvax2 can specifically target the immune response to gluten in people with celiac disease and modify associated symptoms.”

Many people with celiac disease have been closely tracking the development of the Nexvax2 vaccine, disease experts say.

“Contrary to the public-held belief that the gluten-free diet is all that is necessary to treat celiac disease, celiac patients want therapeutic treatments to aid in managing the serious risk of cross-contact with gluten,” Marilyn G. Geller, chief executive officer of the Celiac Disease Foundation, told Healthline. 

She noted that patients in the foundation’s iCureCeliac registry report miss an average of 23 days of work or school annually due to accidental ingestion of gluten.

Gizmodo: Climate change is going to make ragweed allergies even worse, study finds

Ed Cara

Monday 1:20pm

There’s no shortage of horrible things that will become more common in the near future due to climate change, like coastal floodingextreme weather, and disease-causing ticks, to name a few. But new research published Thursday in PLOS-One adds another annoyance to the list: Allergy-causing ragweed.

The common ragweed, or Ambrosia artemisiifolia as it’s formally called, is a voracious plant known for quickly overtaking whatever environment it’s suited to inhabit. The plant grows annually through the warmer parts of the year in the U.S. Importantly for us, it’s also an abundant source of pollen, making it one of the leading triggers of hay fever and asthma.

Though native to parts of North America, ragweed has invaded much of Europe, Asia, and other areas with relatively temperate weather, including some of the Southern United States. Given ragweed’s love of warmer temperatures, scientists have feared that climate change has and will continue to help it spread further. There’s already research suggesting that this is happening in Europe, but the authors of this latest study say theirs is the first to consider the future of ragweed in North America.

“It was surprising that nobody had looked at ragweed distributions in the U.S.: As climate conditions are changing, where will it spread to in the future?” said lead author Michael Case, who worked on the study during his time as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Washington, in a statement.

The researchers created different models to predict ragweed’s growth within the Eastern U.S. They stuck to that region because of the availability of data on when and where ragweed already grows. They ran 13 models, changing up variables like the amount of rain during August and the average temperature, for two different scenarios (a future where greenhouse gas emissions continue to climb and one where we show some restraint in emissions) in two time periods (the 2050s and the 2070s).

Even in the more optimistic scenario, the majority of models predicted that, by 2050, ragweed will encroach into new areas of the U.S., including Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and more parts of New York. And through climate change might drive ragweed away from some areas, the overall distribution of the plant—measured in square kilometers—will likely nearly double by the 2050s.

“Our results show that common ragweed is projected to have substantially more suitable climate space in the future across the eastern U.S,” the authors wrote.

The news isn’t entirely bad, though. That’s because the effects of climate change on wildlife can be complex. And strangely enough, the team also found that by the 2070s, ragweed distribution might start to shrink from the peak levels seen in the 2050s, thanks to more extreme swings in temperature and precipitation (ragweed, like humans, doesn’t love weather that’s too hot or too cold). Of course, even those levels are much higher than what we see today, so it’s not a great silver lining.

Still, the researchers hope (perhaps futilely) that their findings will encourage public health experts and local governments to appreciate the threat of ragweed invasion in the years to come. Hay fever alone, for instance, already affects some 23 million Americans annually, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

“Weed control boards, for example, might include ragweed on their list to keep an eye out and monitor for,” Case said. “Historically they might not have been looking for ragweed, but our study suggests maybe they should start looking for it.”



Medium: 5 difficult things about cats nobody tells you about

5 difficult things about cats nobody tells you about

To all the cat lovers out there, there are some things you should know first before having an adorable, purring creature into your life.

Having a cat is not always fun, and they don’t always do cute things that make you gush over them all day. Sometimes, felines can be challenging to deal with.

Although some people might say that cats are easy to take care of and they are low-maintenance, it’s still a case to case basis.

You need to know these difficult things about cats that nobody tells you about:

CATS ARE NOT 100% INDEPENDENT PETS

While felines are famous for being independent pets, they also need to be accompanied once in a while. Without love, affection, and stimulation, your cats will suffer. For those cat owners who have to work and can’t attend to their cat 24/7, the best thing to do would be to buy items that would keep them entertained while they are alone at home. If money permits, it would also be good to consider buying another cat so they can keep each other company.\

CONSTANT GROOMING IS A MUST

Cats need to be regularly brushed using special brushes designed for fur. All cats, both long-haired and short-haired, need to keep their coats in its best state. This isn’t only for aesthetics, but it’s also for the cat’s health. The more fur the brush removes, the less hairball will build up in the cat’s system.

CATS NEED TO KEEP UP WITH THE WEATHER

During summertime, it is essential for the kitties, especially the long-haired ones, to have their furs shaved or trimmed to avoid overheating. Have a professional groomer groom your cat to keep them cool amid the hot climate.

CATS MIGHT BE ILL, BUT YOU CAN’T PROBABLY TELL

Banfield Pet Hospital explained on their site, “Cats are known for hiding illness, weakness or pain — especially chronic conditions like dental, kidney and even heart disease. This goes back to their existence in the wild when trying to avoid attracting the attention of would-be predators.”

Your cat might be feeling the symptoms of an illness, but they probably won’t show it. As a cat owner, it is important to be knowledgeable about the signs you should watch out for to know if something is wrong with your pet.

Source: Shutterstock

CONSIDER DITCHING YOUR HOUSE PLANTS

Cats are fans of chewing houseplants. This could be a problem since a lot of houseplants are poisonous to cats. It might be best to research these toxic plants and avoid putting them inside your home.

CAT ALLERGIES ARE VERY COMMON

As revealed by LiveScience, “While an estimated 10 percent of people are allergic to household pets, cat allergies are twice as common as dog allergies, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.”

If you are allergic to cats but still want to own one, there are some things you could do to reduce the allergens lurking in your house. You should keep your cat well-groomed at all times and vacuum your place as much as you can. Also, an air purifier can help. Lastly, don’t let your cat stay in a room where someone allergic is sleeping.

PREPARE FOR THE EXPENSES

Much like having a child, owning a cat can be expensive, too. You would need to save up on yearly appointments to the vet. You also have to have your cat neutered. Not to mention, the regular expenses on food, cat litter, toys, and other stuff needed by your cat. Another thing to save up for is the unexpected veterinary costs since accidents or illnesses can’t always be avoided.

Owning a cat is a serious matter. You would need to invest a lot of time, energy, money, and even space. It is a huge responsibility, and a person should never own a cat if they are not fully committed.

While on the subject of felines, they also enjoy the casual playtime. If you’re too busy to play with your feline friend, there are actually some apps that have been made specifically for them.

One of those apps is called Cat Fishing 2, where fishes swim around your screen and your cat can use its paw to catch the fish and score points.

Other interesting apps for cats are Relax My Cat, Cat Alone 2, and Pet First Aid.

Source: AmoMama

Drugs.com: Making Halloween less scary for teens with allergies, asthma

Making Halloween Less Scary for Teens With Allergies, Asthma

SATURDAY, Oct. 20, 2018 -- Teens with allergies and asthma can enjoy Halloween as long as they take precautions, an allergist says.

"There's no reason a teen with allergies should have to miss anything," said Dr. Bradley Chipps, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Teens usually know the drill when it comes to handling their food allergies, seasonal allergies or asthma, he said.

"Providing your teen with common-sense guidelines regarding what they can eat and what they need to steer clear of means they can join the fun and be wheeze and sneeze-free," Chipps said in a college news release.

At Halloween parties, teens with asthma should avoid cigarette smoke, smoke machines, bonfires and fireworks, and should carry their rescue inhaler in case accidental exposure to smoke triggers wheezing or other asthma symptoms.

Allergen information is not available for many Halloween treats and foods served at Halloween parties, which can put teens with food allergies at risk. These teens should take their own safe treats to parties, Chipps said.

Teens with food allergies may also want to host their own party so they have control over what's being served.

Smoke and food aren't the only holiday threats. Some Halloween makeup contains ingredients that cause allergic reactions, especially for teens with eczema or other allergic skin conditions. Try to find high-quality hypoallergenic makeup and test any makeup on a small patch of skin first to see if there's any reaction, Chipps said.

If a teen is allergic to latex, make sure to check for it when choosing a costume or mask.

Teens with asthma should always carry needed medications, including their rescue inhaler. Those with a food allergy should always have two epinephrine auto-injectors and their cellphone in case an emergency arises.

These teens should also make sure that their friends know about their allergies or asthma so they can help if a reaction occurs, Chipps said.

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics has more on allergies and asthma.

© 2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: October 2018



US News: Airlines and allergies: can you safely fly the friendly skies?

Taking minimal precautions can help make flights safe.

By Michael Blaiss, M.D., Contributor Oct. 23, 2018, at 6:00 a.m. 

WITH MORE THAN 50 million Americans suffering from allergies every year, there is no doubt that a high percentage of flyers have allergies. Being 35,000 feet above the ground and going 500 mph in a metal tube is not the best place to have an allergic reaction. Not surprisingly, there have been numerous news articles related to people experiencing food and pet allergy reactions while flying. How can we keep ourselves safe from allergies during flight?

Food allergies, especially to peanuts, can be scary for people when flying. The good news is that by taking minimal precautions, you can fly safely. Inform the airline at least 24 hours before the flight to let them know what foods you are allergic to. Several U.S. airlines have completely stopped giving out peanuts. Southwest, American and United Airlines don't serve peanuts at all. Delta Air Lines says it won't serve peanuts or peanut products if a passenger informs the company that they have a peanut allergy. Just because a flight is peanut-free doesn't mean that other passengers won't bring and eat peanuts on the flight. You may want to ask the passengers near your seat to refrain from eating them.

Ideally, taking the first flight during the early morning may be safer, as planes are usually cleaned at the end of the day, reducing the amount of food crumbs present. A precaution you should take is to remove any traces of food on your seat and tray table by cleaning them with wet sanitary wipes. Several airlines, including Delta, JetBlue and Southwest, allow flyers with food allergies to board early to wipe down their seats and tray tables before departure. Carry all your medications to treat an allergic reaction with you, especially your epinephrine autoinjector. Don't put them in checked luggage or in the overhead bin. 

Even though peanut dust in the air has been thought to be a potential danger, there have been no incidences of life-threatening reactions to breathing in peanut dust. What if you smell peanuts? Smelling peanut odors will not cause an allergic reaction. For all snacks, read the label to confirm there is nothing in them that could trigger allergies. The safest approach is to pack your own meal before you leave or buy snacks at the airport that don't contain any of your food allergies to eat on the plane.

More and more pets are accompanying their owners when they fly. There has been a triple digit increase of service and emotional support animals on flights in recent years. What do you do if you are allergic to cats and/or dogs that might be on your flight? Many airlines limit the number of pets, but they can't limit the number of service animals on a flight. Even if there are no pets on the flight, you could still have symptoms from the animal dander from pets that have been on previous flights. 

Here are some helpful tips for flyers with cat and dog allergies: 

  • Make sure you've taken your allergy and asthma medications prior to flying and have them with you for the flight, not in the overhead bin or in checked luggage. This is especially important if you use a rescue asthma inhaler and/or epinephrine autoinjector.

  • Wipe your seat and tray tables with wet wipes to try to remove as much dander as possible.

  • Ask the flight attendants to move you to a seat as far away as possible from an animal that can trigger your allergies.

  • Avoid using the blankets and pillows on the airplane, as they may contain animal allergens.

  • If you might have a life-threatening reaction such as severe asthma or anaphylaxis to animals, call the airline 24 hours prior to flying to see if there will be any animals on your flight. If there are, see if the airline will get you on an alternate flight without pets or with a fewer number of pets.

By taking appropriate precautions and following up with your board-certified allergist to make sure your allergies and asthma are under control, you can breathe easier about staying safe when you fly.

Michael Blaiss, M.D. , Contributor

Michael S. Blaiss, MD, is a clinical professor of pediatrics at Medical College of Georgia in A...  READ MORE

Tags: allergiesfood allergiesasthmatravel

Sparkpeople: 9 ways to keep fall allergies from making you miserable

By SparkPeople Guest Blogger, SparkPeople Blogger 10/19/2018

Just as you've gotten your summer routine down, finally learning to embrace those sweaty, warm-weather workouts and balmy evening walks—bam! Fall has blustered onto the scene, complete with its Insta-worthy foliage, cool nights and comfortable days, pumpkin-flavored everything…
 
…and sneezing, runny noses and itchy, watery eyes.
 
Unfortunately, autumn tends to arrive with a host of allergens that threaten to trigger a range of symptoms, from annoying to downright miserable. According to Chirag Shah, M.D., board-certified emergency medicine physician and co-founder of Accesa Labs, one of the biggest culprits is ragweed pollen.
 
"Ragweed is a common weed that releases lots of pollen in the fall," he explains. "Many people are allergic to ragweed pollen, resulting in an increase in allergy symptoms with the change in seasons." And because ragweed pollen is airborne, fall's increased winds and rainfall can send it traveling for hundreds of miles.
 
Another big fall allergy offender is mold. "Mold loves the shrinking amounts of daylight and piles of wet, fallen leaves brought on by the changing seasons," Dr. Shah explains. "The growth in mold leads to increased amounts of mold spores, which can cause allergies in susceptible people."
 
And on top of all that, fall is prime season for the cold, flu and other viruses, which can make allergy symptoms even worse.
 
But that doesn't mean you have to let allergies ruin your autumn. Allergist Bradley Chipps, MD, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, points out that if people prepare in advance, they won’t get hit quite as hard when the allergens descend with full force.
 
Technically, the fall allergy season begins at the end of August and lasts until the first frost of the year, as late as November. By adopting some of these anti-allergy habits, you can help keep symptoms at bay so you can enjoy all of those hayrides and hot chocolates with clear eyes and sinuses.
 
Know your allergies.
 
For many people who experience allergy symptoms, identifying the cause is a guessing game. To pinpoint the culprit, Dr. Tania Elliott, MD FAAAAI, FACAAI, says to think about the timing of your symptoms and how long they are lasting. Ask yourself: Does it happen at the same time every year? Does it occur more when you are indoors or outdoors? Does it last into the winter?
 
"From there, meet with an allergist who can help you determine what it is that you are allergic to, a process that involves both your history of symptoms and allergen-specific tests, either in the skin or the blood," Dr. Elliott recommends.
 
Know your meds.
 
Once you've identified what's triggering your allergy symptoms, and if those symptoms only occur once in a while and are relatively mild, Dr. Elliott says a non-sedating, over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamine, such as such as cetirizine, should help reduce their severity.
 
Nasal steroid sprays are the first line of treatment for people with allergies, Dr. Elliott says. They work by decreasing inflammation in the nasal passages and blocking the chemicals that cause itching, redness, swelling, congestion and post-nasal drip. They won’t provide immediate relief, but they will help if used regularly, she notes.
 
"Remember, not all nasal sprays are created equally," warns Dr. Elliott. "Steer clear of those that contain decongestants, as these shouldn’t be used for more than a few days at a time."
 
Because fall allergies may start earlier and last longer, Dr. Chipps notes that it’s important to begin taking your allergy medications at least two weeks before your symptoms normally start, and to keep taking them until pollen counts have been down for about two weeks, usually after the first frost.
 
Don't take the lungs lightly.
 
Aside from the ordinary annoyances of runny noses and itchy, watery eyes, some people experience respiratory problems as a result of fall allergies. Dr. Purvi Parikh, allergist and immunologist with Allergy & Asthma Network, warns that these reactions could be dangerous if left untreated.
 
"Any cough that persists even after you have tried a nasal spray and antihistamine or shortness of breath, wheezing or chest tightness are all signs of allergic asthma—even if you have never had asthma before," she says. In this case, Dr. Parikh strongly recommends seeing a board-certified allergist or pulmonologist, as you will likely need an inhaler.
 
Keep moisture under control.
 
Mold thrives in the fall, as the leaves fall and form moist piles outdoors. Dr. Chipps points out that in addition to leaves, mold can be found anywhere there is water, including in your backyard, in a field of uncut grass and in clogged gutters.
 
"If you are allergic to mold, the key to reducing it is moisture control," he says. "Be sure to clean standing water anywhere you find it. You can also help ward off mold by cleaning gutters regularly and keeping your home's humidity below 60 percent."
 
Have "outside clothes" and "inside clothes."
 
Inevitably, pollen and spores will stick to your clothing throughout your day, warns Dr. Shah. When you get home, leave your shoes outside the house, put the clothes you were wearing into the washer (with hot water to rid laundry of dust mites) and change into new clothes, so that any pollen and spores that hitched a ride don't get spread around your home.
 
Dr. Chipps also recommends showering and washing your hair in the evening before bed, so you’re not sleeping with pollen and getting it on your pillow and into your nose.
 
Do some anti-allergy housekeeping.
 
If you’re already indoors, the best way to keep outdoor allergens out is to close off their path to your home, says Christopher Dietz, D.O. with MedExpress. Keep the doors closed and the windows shut (in the house and car). "All it takes is for a breeze to sweep in some fresh ragweed spores, and you’ll be feeling the effects of fall allergies," he warns.
 
Dietz also cautions that common household furnishings—such as thick carpeting, pillows or counters and shelves filled with knick-knacks—can attract and hold allergens and dust, which can trigger fall allergies. "Consider replacing carpeting with non-toxic hardwood floors, putting allergy-approved cases on your pillows and reducing dust-collecting items in the home," he suggests.
 
Wash your nose.
 
Just as we need to wash our hands frequently and thoroughly to get rid of any bacteria, dirt or viruses, people with allergies need to regularly cleanse their nasal passages to flush out those allergens, notes Dr. Elliott. "The longer the allergen sits in the nose, the worse your symptoms are going to be," she warns. Some common nasal cleaning methods include using a saline spray or a neti pot.
 
Get your vaccinations.
 
Dr. Purvi Parikh, an allergist/immunologist with the Allergy & Asthma Network, stresses the importance of getting a flu shot, and for those who have asthma or are over the age of 65, a pneumonia shot as well.
 
"Although infections are not allergies, those with allergies are at a higher risk of getting sick, and you will feel twice as bad if you are dealing with both allergies and viruses at the same time," notes Dr. Parikh.
 
Dr. Elliott points out that there is a way to "cure people" of their fall allergies with something called allergen immunotherapy, or allergy shots. With this treatment, the allergist gives you small injections of what you are allergic to and builds up the dosage over time. "This 'teaches' your body to no longer be allergic to the pollen and allows you to build up a tolerance to it," she explains. "If done correctly, there is a 75 percent cure rate. It also prevents you from developing other allergies down the line."
 
Try an air filter or air purifier.
 
Studies have shown that an air filter or air cleaner could help to alleviate fall allergy symptoms, when used in tandem with other strategies to minimize exposure to allergens. According to WebMD, both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the American Lung Association recommend air filtration for people who struggle with allergies and asthma even after making other changes to their environment.
 
It's also important to clean all air filters, duct filters and air conditioner filters at least once each season.
 
By taking some smart precautions before symptoms set in, you can appreciate the outdoor beauty of the autumn season—and actually taste the flavor of your pumpkin latte—without the annoyances of a stuffy or runny nose and itchy, watery eyes.