Memorial Day Allergy-Friendly Holiday Guide

Memorial Day Weekend is here!  Read The Asthma Center’s board-certified allergists’ Memorial Day Allergy-Friendly Holiday Guide to keep the unofficial “start of summer”  “sneeze-free.” Happy Memorial Day Holiday Weekend!

Memorial Day Allergy-Friendly Holiday Guide

This  Memorial Day Allergy-Friendly Holiday guide from The Asthma Center Allergists is full of tips to help those with allergies, asthma, and sinus problems enjoy all the weekend celebrations and outdoor activities.

Memorial Day Allergy-Friendly Holiday Guide Tip #1: Reduce Pollen and Other Allergy Triggers

  1. Wear long sleeves and long pants when mowing the grass. Be sure to shower & wash your hair afterwards.
  2. Limit time outdoors during the early morning hours when the most pollen is released.
  3. Sleep with windows closed and drive with windows up.
  4. Wear wrap-around sunglasses or glasses outdoors to limit exposure of pollen to your eyes.
  5. Avoid wearing contact lenses, or switch to daily disposable contacts to avoid allergens building up on the lenses.
  6. Beware of tracking grass pollen into your home from overlooked sources that may “sneak” in on kids’ shoes and clothing, pets especially after playing outside in the grass, and on morning newspaper sleeves.
  7. Shower and wash your hair after extended outdoor exposure.  Wash your hands and face frequently, including eyebrows.
  8. Change your pillowcase often.

Weather Conditions & Allergies

  1. Pollen and mold spore counts typically are highest during the morning hours.  
  2. Pollen will be heaviest with hot, dry windy conditions.
  3. Thunderstorms, lightening & wind can all increase pollen in the air after a storm has passed.  
  4. Mold spores thrive with heat and humidity.

Allergy- Friendly Grilling

Memorial Day weekend celebrations often mean “firing up the grill” for picnics and barbecues with family and friends.  Did you know that red meat allergy can be triggered by bites from the Lone Star Tick, a variety of tick that is active and prevalent in our region?  Learn all the facts in our recent blog Allergic to Red Meat? Lone Star Ticks to Blame.

Allergy – Friendly Gardening

Allergy sufferers who like to garden or are looking to buy flowers for the holiday weekend may experience dificulties around flowers and flowering plants.  Fortunately, many flowers produce very little or no pollen.  However, it is important to be mindful of the few that cause misery for allergic individuals.  Avoid Pigweed, Chamomile, Chrysanthemums, Daisies, Goldenrod, & Sunflowers.  For more information on flowers, plants, trees, and shrubs to avoid, check out our Tips for Allergy-Free Gardening & Indoor House Plants.

The “Priming Effect” & Allergies

Dr. Marc Goldstein explains, “The ‘priming effect’ is set up during the early periods of exposure to a pollen (as in the beginning of tree and grass pollen season).  Depending on an individual’s level of allergic sensitivity, symptoms typically are experienced with higher levels of pollen.  As the season progresses and exposure to the relevant pollen diminishes, “priming” accounts for why less pollen exposure in the air continues to provoke the same allergic misery.”  Bottom line: This time of year, if you have allergies, symptoms may be triggered by even limited exposure to pollen and molds, and some individuals may also be more sensitivity to irritants such as pollutants, odors and smells that would not ordinarily cause symptoms.

The Asthma Center would like to take this time to wish all our friends, patients and staff a Happy Memorial Day!  This weekend, we remember the men and women in our armed forces who died fighting for our country, and we thank them for their service.

 

A Board-Certified Allergist Can Help

At The Asthma Center, our allergists and pediatric allergists help our patients manage their allergies by determining what local spring allergens cause symptoms.  For example, with spring allergies, we identify which local trees and grasses trigger allergy symptoms by using minimally invasive in-house diagnostics, like allergy skin testing. Pairing these results with local knowledge of allergy triggers like pollen, ragweed and mold, our allergists develop personalized plans that treat not only the symptoms but also the cause of allergies. And because allergy symptoms often spike with pollen, we know exactly when to adjust allergy medication – providing more relief when conditions are bad and less medication every time else. 

The allergists, pediatric allergists, and asthma specialists at The Asthma Center treat patients in 9 convenient locations throughout the Delaware Valley including Philadelphia (Center City Philadelphia, Society Hill Philadelphia, Northeast Philadelphia), The Main Line – Montgomery County (Bala Cynwyd – Lower Merion PA), Bucks County (Langhorne PA), and South Jersey (Mt. Laurel NJ, Woodbury NJ, Hamilton NJ, Forked River NJ).

The health information contained in this article is meant for basic informational purposes only.  It is not intended to serve as medical advice, substitute for a doctor’s appointment or to be used for diagnosing or treating a disease.

For interviews and tours of the Delaware Valley’s only National Allergy Bureau (NAB) certified pollen, ragweed, and mold spore counting stations in Philadelphia, PA and Mt. Laurel, NJ, please email gwoodlyn@asthmacenter.com.




Allergic to Red Meat? Lone Star Ticks to Blame

Allergic to Red Meat? Lone Star Ticks to Blame

With the warmer weather and spending more time outdoors, we are all more susceptible to tick bites. By now, most are familiar with Lyme disease from deer ticks. But did you know another tick variety prevalent in our area, the Lone Star tick, can trigger red meat allergy?

This red meat allergy is also known as alpha-gal allergy.  Alpha-gal is a carbohydrate found in red meat including beef, pork, lamb and venison.  Since 2009, Lone Star tick bites have been linked to the development of delayed allergic symptoms (usually 3-6 hours) following the ingestion of red meat.  Individuals bitten by Lone Star ticks may develop allergy (IgE) antibodies to alpha-gal.  Upon ingesting mammalian meat containing alpha-gal (red meat), delayed allergic symptoms can develop.

Red meat allergy is uncommon in the United States, and was only recently recognized in 2009.  However, the increased population of Lone Star ticks in our region increases the threat of red meat allergy.  An essential part of any food allergy treatment program is avoidance, and triggers can be particularly difficult to identify.  This is particularly true with Lone Star tick bites and red meat allergy because the allergic reaction is often delayed, thereby “hiding” the true cause of the allergic reactions.

The Asthma Center Allergists have put together the following guides to help recognize the signs and symptoms of red meat allergy caused by Lone Star tick bites.

Lone Star Tick Bite Facts

  • The Lone Star female adult tick has a distinctive white dot. The Lone Star adult male, on the other hand, has markings similar to those of a “deer tick.” 
  • Lone Star tick bites often cause an extremely itchy rash around the bite within 7 days.  Note: Tick bites related to Lyme Disease and other illness by contrast, may also develop a rash that feel warm to the touch but generally are not itchy.
  • Some individuals may be unaware that they have experienced a tick bite.
  • Lone Star tick bites do not usually cause Lyme Disease; however, Lone Star ticks feed on warm blooded mammals which may have Lyme Disease and other tick-borne illnesses. In rare cases, the Lone Star tick can become a “carrier” of these illnesses.

    Lone-star-tick-stages-cdcLone-star-tick-map-cdc

Lone Star Tick Bites and Food Allergy Symptoms

After a Lone Star tick bite, the following food allergy symptoms can occur with the ingestion of red meat (including beef, pork, lamb or venison):

  • Hives or skin rash
  • Nausea, stomach cramps, indigestion, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Stuffy/runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Headaches
  • Asthma
  • Anaphylaxis (life-threatening allergic reaction)

Red Meat Allergy Diagnosis and Treatment

At The Asthma Center, our allergists and pediatric allergists help our patients manage their food allergies by first determining what foods cause symptoms.   Commercially available allergy skin tests for red meat (beef, pork, and lamb) are usually negative, but skin tests to fresh meat may be positive.  When a meat allergy is causing any of the above symptoms, and a Lone Star tick bite is suspected, a blood test can help diagnosis this condition.  Many cases of what has previously been diagnosed as “idiopathic anaphylaxis (where the cause is unknown) may actually be cases of red meat allergy.  The delayed reaction caused by red meat allergy (which can occur 3-6 hours after eating red meat) is often misleading since most allergic food reactions occur within one hour of ingestion of the culprit food.

Avoidance of foods that trigger symptoms is a key part of living with red meat food allergy.  The Asthma Center allergists pair these results and any other testing results which may apply to an individual’s unique history and set of symptoms to identify specific triggers.  The Asthma Center allergists also help our patients find relief of symptoms with antihistamines and corticosteroids, and prepare for anaphylaxis by carrying epinephrine auto-injector to reverse severe reactions to any unforeseen exposure or accidental ingestion of a triggering food.

Tips for Tick Bite Avoidance

No tick bite is a “good” tick bite.  

With a greater than usual tick population predicted for our region, increases in Lyme Disease which is spread by the “deer tick” (black legged tick) are not the only concern.  It has been widely reported that a small percentage of deer ticks may also carry the Powassan virus. 

Avoid Tick bites:

  • Use repellent that contains 20 percent or more DEET, picaridin, or IR3535 on exposed skin for protection that lasts several hours
  • Walk in the center of trails and avoid wooded and grassy areas
  • Wear long sleeves, long pants and thick socks
  • Learn more about preventing tick bites from the Centers for Disease Control

If you are concerned about a tick bite or other rash, please see a medical professional.

 

The allergists, pediatric allergists, and asthma specialists at The Asthma Center treat patients in 9 convenient locations throughout the Delaware Valley including Philadelphia (Center City Philadelphia, Society Hill Philadelphia, Northeast Philadelphia), The Main Line – Montgomery County (Bala Cynwyd – Lower Merion PA), Bucks County (Langhorne PA), and South Jersey (Mt. Laurel NJ, Woodbury NJ, Hamilton NJ, Forked River NJ).

The health information contained in this article is meant for basic informational purposes only.  It is not intended to serve as medical advice, substitute for a doctor’s appointment or to be used for diagnosing or treating a disease.

For interviews and tours of the Delaware Valley’s only National Allergy Bureau (NAB) certified pollen, ragweed, and mold spore counting stations in Philadelphia, PA and Mt. Laurel, NJ, please email gwoodlyn@asthmacenter.com.

 




Yellow Smoke? It’s Pine Pollen!

Yellow Smoke: Pine Pollen Takes Over Delaware Valley

Despite the abundance of pine pollen in our air samples, pine pollen allergy is often ignored. “For individuals who today are sneezing, itching, have itchy watery eyes and/or other allergy & asthma symptoms, exposure to multiple aeroallergens—what’s in the air—especially pine pollen in our air matters now,” explains Dr. Marc F. Goldstein, board-certified allergist at The Asthma Center. “Pine pollen makes our region unique from an allergy perspective compared to other areas of the Northeastern U.S. where pine pollen is minimal, nonexistent, or other species are prevalent.”

Pine Pollen Unique to the Delaware Valley

Pinelands-highlight easy

Within the heart of the Delaware Valley sits the 1.1 million acre (see map) protected open space known as the New Jersey Pinelands. Although there are over 110 different species of the pine family (Pinus), this protected area is home to the largest cluster of pitch pine, Pinus rigada (see picture below) on the United States (U.S.) Eastern coastline.

Dr. Donald Dvorin, board-certified allergist and the region’s official pollen counter, has been studying the tree pollen seasons in the Delaware Valley each spring for years. From the very beginning, he has observed notable pine pollen levels in both our Southern New Jersey and Philadelphia air samples. According to Dr. Dvorin, typically pine tree pollen appears in late May through the end of June.

Despite the abundance of pine pollen in air samples, pine pollen allergy is often ignored. Allergists both locally and nationally have for years felt that pine pollen is not a clinically relevant allergen, and many rarely test for pine pollen allergy.  Some studies suggest that the prevalence of pine pollen allergy may range from 2%-10% of the population; however, there have been no studies that have firmly established the incidence of pine pollen allergy in the general allergic population.

Because of our region’s proximity to the Pinelands, the board-certified allergists continue to clinically recognize allergic symptoms at this time of year can be caused by pine pollen allergy.  “We have included pine pollen in our allergy skin testing panel for years because we’re near the Pinelands and we know significant levels of pine pollen can be in the air,” explains Dr. Goldstein.

As seen in the picture above, pine trees can release large amounts of the yellow-colored pollen at a time. People often describe the effect as observing plumes of yellow smoke.

Why is Pine Pollen Ignored?

Pine pollen grains typically bear a waxy thick coat that surrounds its rather large size.  Pine pollen grains can be 60 to 100 micrometers in diameter, large compared to other pollen grains (typical pollen grain size is approximately 10 micrometers). Doctors often believed that the size of pine pollen prevented its distribution by wind and through the air.  However, studies and Dr. Dvorin’s own pollen counts have proven that this not the case.  Despite its large size, pine pollen is capable of traveling great distances. 

Pine Pollen Grain with Mickey Mouse Air Sacks
Pine pollen grains have two large air sacs on either side which give them a “Mickey Mouse” appearance.

The pine pollen grain typically has 2 large air sacks that give it a “Mickey Mouse” appearance (see picture.)  These air sacks reduce the pine pollen grain density and contribute to the pollen’s buoyancy, allowing it to travel long distances in the air.  As an example, the center of the Pinelands is about 40 miles from Center City Philadelphia.  Yet urban air samples from our Philadelphia, PA pollen collection station generally show the same relative volume of pine pollen grains as found in our suburban air samples from the Mount Laurel, NJ collection station which is 30 miles from the Pinelands. Thinking that the size of pine pollen grains were too large to enter the nasal and lung passages, many physicians (including allergists) did not consider pine pollen a relevant allergen.   Evidence that it can be inhaled and provoke symptoms are found in cases reported in the medical literature as far back as 1921.  Published results from limited investigation of pine pollen allergy have shown that pine pollen allergy does in fact cause allergic responses in the skin (positive allergy skin tests) and allergy responses on nose, eye, and lung challenges.

In addition to the limited reports of pine pollen-induced hay fever or bronchial asthma, there have been reports of allergies to ingested pine nuts (the seeds of pine trees) or from pine nuts found in pesto, sauces, salads, meatballs, cakes, candies and cookies.  Interestingly enough, there is very little cross reactivity of pine nuts with other tree nuts.  This is due to the fact that, evolutionarily, pine nuts are not from flowers as in the case of other tree nuts (like walnut, hazelnut, cashew, pistachios), but are contained within the pine cone—making them antigenically different from other tree nuts.

Another unusual manifestation of pine pollen sensitivity is in those who have “Christmas tree allergy.”  This may be due to pine pollen being released from pine cones when cut trees are hydrated in the home causing nasal, eye, and chest symptoms during the holiday season.

 

Pine Pollen Allergies? Tips for Relief

Typically, pollen in the air tends to peak around early-morning, causing symptoms to be at their worst then.  Luckily, there are a few ways to mitigate your worst allergy symptoms. Here are some best-practice tips for keeping your weekend allergy free: 

  • Wear long sleeves and long pants when mowing the grass
  • Sleep with windows closed and drive with windows up
  • Beware of tracking pollen into homes (kids, pets especially, newspaper sleeves, and on shorts and jackets)
  • Shower and wash hair after extended outdoor exposure
  • Wear wrap-around sunglasses or glasses outdoors to limit exposure of pollen to eyes
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses, or switch to daily disposable contacts to avoid allergens building up on the lenses
  • Wash hands and face frequently, including eyebrows
  • Change pillowcases often

 

Board-Certified Allergists & Pediatric Allergists

The board-certified allergists at The Asthma Center are very much aware, therefore of the importance of pine pollen as an important spring allergen.  Many patients who previously escaped diagnosis of seasonal pine pollen allergy was due to the fact that allergy skin testing to pine pollen was not performed or was not considered as a clinically significant allergen capable of provoking symptoms.  If you would like to know if pine pollen allergy is playing a role in your symptoms, the allergists at The Asthma Center routinely test for pine pollen sensitivity and can effectively treat symptoms once identified—contact the office location near you to schedule an appointment!

Be sure to check back in for The Asthma Center’s Daily Pollen, Ragweed and Mold Spore Count, the Delaware Valley’s ONLY official pollen count station, certified by the National Allergy Bureau.  Subscribe  to receive our daily counts by email or check out some of our other blog posts to learn more about what is in the air, how it can affect you, and what you can do about it.

 

 

 

 




Food Allergy Awareness Week 2017: Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS)

Food Allergy Awareness Week 2017: Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS)

With allergies and asthma on the rise in the United States, education and awareness are critical to attaining proper treatment and care. This is particularly true regarding food allergies. This week (May 14-20, 2017), The Asthma Center joins Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) in celebrating 20 years raising awareness on the seriousness of food allergies.

Itchy Mouth After Eating? Food Allergy & Pollen

Does your mouth, throat and/or lips become itchy after eating raw fruits and vegetables? Do you have pollen allergy? If you answered “yes” to both of these questions, you may suffer from a type of food allergy called Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS). This syndrome is also known as Pollen-Food Allergy Syndrome (PFAS).

What Do I Need To Know About Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS)?

  • The most common symptoms of OAS include itching, tingling and/or mild swelling of the mouth, throat and/or lips. Less commonly, nausea and/or stomach upset. Reactions can be life-threatening, with systemic allergic reactions occurring in nearly 9% of individuals, with anaphylactic shock in 1.7% of those affected by OAS.
  • Itching in OAS is caused by local allergic reactions triggered by contact of the lips, mouth and throat with allergenic proteins found in raw fruits and vegetables that are cross-reactive with allergenic proteins found in pollen to which an individual is allergic. Symptoms may also be caused by peanuts, tree nuts, spices and soybean.
  • OAS most commonly has its onset in older children, teens and young adults who have eaten the suspect foods for many years with no allergic or other adverse reactions.
  • Symptoms typically develop immediately after eating suspect foods and usually resolve within minutes of swallowing the foods. In rare cases, symptoms can develop up to one hour after eating. Symptoms are generally most severe during the related pollen season. Medical treatment is usually not necessary.
  • Specific pollens have been associated with OAS symptoms triggered by specific foods. Examples include:
    Birch pollen: apple, almond, carrot, celery, cherry, hazelnut, kiwi, peach, pear, plum.
    Grass pollen: celery, melons, oranges, peaches, tomato.
    Ragweed pollen: banana, cucumber, melons, sunflower seeds, zucchini.

What Should I Do If I Suffer from OAS?

  • The best treatment is avoidance! Avoid foods which elicit OAS symptoms. This is particularly important in light of the low, but real, risk of anaphylaxis.
  • Cooking foods thoroughly may prevent OAS symptoms by denaturing proteins in the foods and rendering them less recognizable to the immune system and, consequently, less likely to cause allergic reactions (e.g. most individuals can eat apple pie even though they can’t eat raw apples; for those with no history of milk allergy or lactose intolerance, a nice scoop of vanilla ice cream on top is recommended).
  • Consultation with an Allergist is highly recommended to evaluate for pollen allergy and to define whether food-related symptoms are due to OAS, or true life-threatening food allergies. Treatment of pollen allergy with allergen immunotherapy (allergy shots) in those individuals with allergic rhinitis and/or asthma has been shown to be effective in reducing symptoms of OAS.
  • Always carry an epinephrine auto-injector (e.g. EpiPen or AuviQ) to have immediately available to use in the event of an anaphylactic reaction.

 So, beware! If you are allergic to tree, grass and/or weed pollen, you may be at risk for Oral Allergy Syndrome.

Board-Certified Allergists, Pediatric Allergists & Asthma Specialists

Effective treatment of food allergies and other related medical conditions first depends on a correct and proper diagnosis.  Seeing a board-certified allergist is your first stop to healthy living with food allergies.

Our allergists, pediatric allergists, and asthma specialists treat patients in 9 convenient locations throughout the Delaware Valley including Philadelphia (Center City Philadelphia, Society Hill Philadelphia, Northeast Philadelphia), The Main Line – Montgomery County (Bala Cynwyd – Lower Merion PA), Bucks County (Langhorne PA), and South Jersey (Mt. Laurel NJ, Woodbury NJ, Hamilton NJ, Forked River NJ).

The health information contained in this article is meant for basic informational purposes only.  It is not intended to serve as medical advice, substitute for a doctor’s appointment or to be used for diagnosing or treating a disease. For interviews and tours of the Delaware Valley’s only National Allergy Bureau (NAB) certified pollen, ragweed, and mold spore counting stations in Philadelphia, PA and Mt. Laurel, NJ, please email gwoodlyn@asthmacenter.com.




Mother’s Day Allergy-Friendly Flowers Guide

Philadelphia, PA – May 11, 2017 – Rain or shine, Mother’s Day is around the corner. Flowers are synonymous with both Mother’s Day and allergies.  Read The Asthma Center’s board-certified allergists’ Mother’s Day Allergy-Friendly Flowers Guide to keep your celebration “sneeze-free.” Happy Mother’s Day!

Allergy-Friendly Flowers

Individuals who have respiratory allergies may experience difficulty around flowers and other plants in indoor as well as outdoor garden environments. Fortunately, there are many flowers, shrubs, trees, and grasses that produce very little or no pollen and can be used in both indoor and/or outdoor environments. Fun Fact:  Only male plant species produce the pollen that people react to, so that if you are able to purchase female plants you can be sure that they do not produce pollen.

For a less symptomatic weekend with Mom, try one of these allergy-friendly flowers more suited for allergy sufferers:

  • Begonia
  • Clematis
  • Columbine
  • Crocus
  • Daffodil
  • Geranium
  • Hydrangea
  • Iris
  • Lily
  • Periwinkle
  • Rose
  • Tulip
  • Zinnia

Allergy Tips for Enjoying Flowers & Bouquets

The pollen from flowers used in arrangements is heavier than tree, grass and weed pollen. This means that usually it is less of a trigger for allergy and asthma symptoms, but it may still cause problems. Here is a set of allergy tips to keep in mind when giving or receiving flowers as a gift:

Allergy-Friendly Flowers

  1. Before you bring any ornamental flowers indoors, remove as much pollen as possible by removing the stamen. Wipe stems, leaves, and petals as needed.
  2. Resist the temptation of placing your nose directly in a bouquet of flowers or touching the flowers, since direct contact on the hands, other parts of the skin, eyes and nose may trigger allergy symptoms.
  3. The fragrance from some plants may also have a very significant irritant effect if you have respiratory allergies and/or asthma. Try to avoid particularly fragrant flowers.
  4. Reduce symptoms by avoiding the “worst offenders” such as chamomile, chrysanthemums, daisies, goldenrod, and sunflowers. Choose allergy-friendly flowers instead (See List Above.)

 

Dr. Goldstein on Allergy-Friendly Flowers

Our very-own allergist Dr. Marc Goldstein discusses allergy-friendly flowers and bouquets.

 

 

Board-Certified Allergists, Pediatric Allergists & Asthma Specialists

At The Asthma Center, our allergists and pediatric allergists help our patients manage their allergies by determining what local spring allergens cause symptoms.  For example, with spring allergies, we identify which local trees, grasses, and flowers trigger allergy symptoms by using minimally invasive in-house diagnostics, like allergy skin testing. Pairing these results with local knowledge of allergy triggers like pollen, ragweed and mold, our allergists develop personalized plans that treat not only the symptoms but also the cause of allergies. And because allergy symptoms often spike with pollen, we know exactly when to adjust allergy medication – providing more relief when conditions are bad and less medication every time else. 

Our allergists, pediatric allergists, and asthma specialists treat patients in 9 convenient locations throughout the Delaware Valley including Philadelphia (Center City Philadelphia, Society Hill Philadelphia, Northeast Philadelphia), The Main Line – Montgomery County (Bala Cynwyd – Lower Merion PA), Bucks County (Langhorne PA), and South Jersey (Mt. Laurel NJ, Woodbury NJ, Hamilton NJ, Forked River NJ).

Ask about our Special Spring Saturday Hours for New Patients (available in selected locations)!

The health information contained in this article is meant for basic informational purposes only.  It is not intended to serve as medical advice, substitute for a doctor’s appointment or to be used for diagnosing or treating a disease. For interviews and tours of the Delaware Valley’s only National Allergy Bureau (NAB) certified pollen, ragweed, and mold spore counting stations in Philadelphia, PA and Mt. Laurel, NJ, please email gwoodlyn@asthmacenter.com.




May Allergy & Asthma Awareness Month 2017

May is National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month

With allergies and asthma on the rise in the United States, education and awareness are critical to attaining proper treatment and care.  Throughout May which is a peak season for allergy & asthma flares, The Asthma Center joins the Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America in raising allergy and asthma awareness with a new blog series about allergy & awareness.  Check back in with us on our blog, on facebook, or subscribe to learn from our board-certified allergists for frequent updates.

Help us celebrate and raise awareness! Share your stories on The Asthma Center’s Facebook page, and let us know your tips for living with allergies & asthma.

Allergies & Mental Health

May 8, 2017. Allergies can take on mental and physical complications beyond the symptoms of sneezing attacks, itchy nose, ears & eyes, runny nose & watery eyes, stuffiness and sinus headache.

The top 5 effects of allergies on performance, behavior, and mental health:

  1. Sleep compromise which can affect concentration and energy.
  2. Irritability and behavioral problems especially in kids.
  3. Reduced ability to work effectively and be productive.
  4. Deterioration in overall quality of life.
  5. Social embarrassment trying to avoid sneezing, coughing, runny eyes and nose and heavy nasal secretions.

Allergy Co-Conditions

May 8, 2017. People with upper respiratory allergies not only experience classic sneezing, itching, congestion, post nasal drip and sinus pressure, but also can suffer from a myriad of other co-conditions.  A recent national survey from 2012 identified the 5 most common co-conditions for people with allergies:

  1. 40% had asthma
  2. 35% had heartburn or gastrointestinal reflux (GERD)
  3. 33% had sleep disturbances with 10% suffering from actual sleep apnea
  4. 30% had sinusitis
  5. 15% had migraines

Bottom Line: Unmanaged allergies may contribute to the onset of other respiratory and non respiratory conditions.  Who knew allergies could be so complex and pervasive!

Board-Certified Allergists, Pediatric Allergists & Asthma Specialists

Effective treatment of allergies and other related medical conditions first depends on a correct and proper diagnosis.  Seeing a board-certified allergist is your first stop to healthy living with allergies.

At The Asthma Center, our allergists and pediatric allergists help our patients manage their allergies by determining what local spring allergens cause symptoms.  For example, with spring allergies, we identify which local trees (including Oak, Pine, Mulberry and Birch) and grasses trigger allergy symptoms by using minimally invasive in-house diagnostics, like allergy skin testing. Pairing these results with local knowledge of allergy triggers like pollen, ragweed and mold, our allergists develop personalized plans that treat not only the symptoms but also the cause of allergies. And because allergy symptoms often spike with pollen, we know exactly when to adjust allergy medication – providing more relief when conditions are bad and less medication every time else. 

Our allergists, pediatric allergists, and asthma specialists treat patients in 9 convenient locations throughout the Delaware Valley including Philadelphia (Center City Philadelphia, Society Hill Philadelphia, Northeast Philadelphia), The Main Line – Montgomery County (Bala Cynwyd – Lower Merion PA), Bucks County (Langhorne PA), and South Jersey (Mt. Laurel NJ, Woodbury NJ, Hamilton NJ, Forked River NJ).

Ask about our Special Spring Saturday Hours for New Patients (available in selected locations)!

The health information contained in this article is meant for basic informational purposes only.  It is not intended to serve as medical advice, substitute for a doctor’s appointment or to be used for diagnosing or treating a disease. For interviews and tours of the Delaware Valley’s only National Allergy Bureau (NAB) certified pollen, ragweed, and mold spore counting stations in Philadelphia, PA and Mt. Laurel, NJ, please email gwoodlyn@asthmacenter.com.




5 Ways to Keep Pollen Out (of Your Eyes, Nose & Home)

Philadelphia, PA – May 1, 2017 – “Tree pollen increased and remains extreme. There’s more of everything after a hot and windy weekend…even more grass pollen, English plaintain weed pollen, even more mold spores.”

 

Dr. Donald Dvorin, Board Certified Allergist at The Asthma Center, and the only official National Allergy Bureau (NAB) certified pollen, ragweed and mold spore counter for the Delaware Valley.

 

What’s In the Air?

 

Tree Pollen:  Extreme

At more than 3,300 pollen grains per 24 hours, tree pollen today is again extreme.(See How We Count Pollen) and may provoke severe allergy symptoms.  Oak represents more than 85% of the total tree pollen count.  Mulberry, Pine, and Birch tree pollen are all also present at very high levels.

More Details on today’s pollen, ragweed, and mold spore count

 

aafa Nat Asthma & Allergy Month

 

May is National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month

With allergies and asthma on the rise in the United States, education and awareness are critical to attaining proper treatment and care.  Throughout May which is a peak season for allergy & asthma flares, The Asthma Center joins the Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America to raising awareness with a new blog series: Tips for Living with Allergies and Asthma.  Check back in with us or Subscribe to learn from our board certified allergists on all the latest methods to manage your allergies and asthma! 

Help us celebrate and raise awareness! Share your stories on The Asthma Center’s fb page, and let us know your tips for living with allergies & asthma.

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

5 Ways to Keep Pollen Out (of Your Eyes, Nose & Home)

Reducing or limiting exposure to pollen is a key part of managing spring allergies. Wearing a “pollen helmet” or avoiding the outdoors completely typically are not practical for most allergy sufferers.  Most allergy sufferers are familiar with the advice to wear long sleeves and pants when mowing the lawn or gardening and to limit the amount of time spent outdoors during the early morning hours when the most pollen is released into the air. 

From The Asthma Center allergists, we have collected 5 tips beyond the conventional wisdom  that can significantly reduce pollen exposure, especially on “bad pollen” days, and hopefully help you keep “merry for the month of May!”

1. Wash your face, particularly the eyebrows, after being outdoors.

Microscopic pollen grains can cling to eyebrows and skin.  Just like it’s important during flu season to wash your hands to prevent flu symptoms, frequently washing your face and eyebrows after being outdoors can prevent eye and nasal allergy symptoms.

2. Wash your hair before going to bed at night after extended time spent outdoors and change pillowcases frequently.

Hair can be a magnet for microscopic pollen grains and mold spores, especially when extended time is spent outdoors.  For those who are allergic, washing your hair (or your children’s hair) and changing pillowcases frequently can reduce exposure during sleep and help reduce morning allergy flares.

3. Avoid wearing contact lenses or switch to daily disposable contacts to avoid allergens building up on the lenses.

Pollen and other allergens as well as environmental irritants can all buildup on contact lenses leading to increased eye allergy symptoms during the peak season.  Switching to eyeglasses or daily disposable contacts will help avoid this common exposure.  Wear “wrap-around” sunglasses when outside for more eye protection from pollen particles.

4. Beware of tracking pollen, particularly grass pollen into your home.

Overlooked sources that may “sneak” pollen into the home include kids’ shoes and clothing, pets especially after playing outside in the grass, and morning newspaper sleeves.

5. Change air filters frequently for both your home and car.

During the peak allergy season, pollen can build up rapidly on air filters and then be distributed through ventilations into both homes and cars.  Use the highest allergen filter available and change filters frequently to reduce this risk.

If reducing your exposure to pollen in combination with over-the-counter antihistamines and nasal sprays don’t work on your symptoms, it’s still not too late to get relief. A board-certified Allergist can help.

At The Asthma Center, our allergists and pediatric allergists help our patients manage their allergies by determining what local spring allergens cause symptoms.  For example, with spring allergies, we identify which local trees (including Oak, Pine, Mulberry and Birch) and grasses trigger allergy symptoms by using minimally invasive in-house diagnostics, like allergy skin testing. Pairing these results with local knowledge of allergy triggers like pollen, ragweed and mold, our allergists develop personalized plans that treat not only the symptoms but also the cause of allergies. And because allergy symptoms often spike with pollen, we know exactly when to adjust allergy medication – providing more relief when conditions are bad and less medication every time else. 

Our allergists, pediatric allergists, and asthma specialists treat patients in 9 convenient locations throughout the Delaware Valley including Philadelphia (Center City Philadelphia, Society Hill Philadelphia, Northeast Philadelphia), The Main Line – Montgomery County (Bala Cynwyd – Lower Merion PA), Bucks County (Langhorne PA), and South Jersey (Mt. Laurel NJ, Woodbury NJ, Hamilton NJ, Forked River NJ).

Ask about our Special Spring Saturday Hours for New Patients (available in selected locations)!

The health information contained in this article is meant for basic informational purposes only.  It is not intended to serve as medical advice, substitute for a doctor’s appointment or to be used for diagnosing or treating a disease.

For interviews and tours of the Delaware Valley’s only National Allergy Bureau (NAB) certified pollen, ragweed, and mold spore counting stations in Philadelphia, PA and Mt. Laurel, NJ, please email gwoodlyn@asthmacenter.com.




Top Spring Allergy Signs & Symptoms

It’s not too late to recognize allergies and avoid misery!

1. Commonly Recognized Allergy Symptoms

  • Sneezing
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Congestion

How can you tell if these symptoms are Allergies, a Cold or Sinusitis? Learn how to tell the difference!

2. Less Commonly Recognized Allergy Symptoms

  • Puffy eyes and / or reactions to contacts (Eye Allergy)
  • Contact Skin Rashes (Skin Allergy)
  • Ear “popping” or “cracking” or “feeling like you’re underwater” (Ear Allergy)
  • Loss of Smell or Taste (Smell Loss)

3.  Allergic Shiners

While dark circles under the eye are often associated with getting too little sleep, they are big indicators of allergic rhinitis (allergies.) 

What Parents Need to Know:  Especially present in children, these “allergic shiners” have been known to get darker as the severity of allergies increases.  If your child has dark circles under their eyes or on their eyelids (a color similar to a bruise), it is best to contact your physician/allergist to treat the underlying problem of allergies.

4. Allergic Salute

Spring sneezing and nasal congestion are just two of the many symptoms commonly associated with spring pollen allergy.  Did you know that these symptoms lead to a telltale sign on the face?  Not surprisingly, many allergy sufferers develop the habit of wiping or rubbing their nose in an upwards manner (known as the “allergic salute.”)  Over time, this can lead to an observable crease across the nose.  The habit develops, in part, because in addition to wiping mucus away, the act of pushing up the nose temporarily props open the air passages in the nostril to provide relief. 

5.  Bad Pollen Days

Other allergy symptoms can occur on “bad pollen” days (days of heavy pollen volume such as today’s extreme tree pollen).  Flu-like symptoms, headaches, sore throat, and feeling of exhaustion or listlessness can occur. 

Knowing “what’s in the air” can help you avoid or reduce your exposure to spring pollens.  The Asthma Center’s daily Pollen, Ragweed and Mold Spore Counts are available by email! With counting stations in Philadelphia, PA and Mt. Laurel, NJ, we are Delaware Valley’s only official pollen source certified by the National Allergy Bureau. Subscribe to receive our daily counts by email and check out some of our other blog posts to learn more about what is in the air, how it can affect you, and what you can do about it.

These top allergy signs & symptoms will help you recognize allergies, and if over-the-counter antihistamines and nasal sprays don’t work on your symptoms, a board-certified allergist can help.

What Pollen is In the Air Today?

“Trees are extreme and grasses are increasing.  Clearly we are in the first phase of the spring pollen season with more on the way.– Dr. Donald Dvorin, Board Certified Allergist at The Asthma Center, and the only official National Allergy Bureau (NAB) certified pollen, ragweed and mold spore counter for the Delaware Valley. The picture above was taken by Dr. Dvorin of his car windshield.

Tree Pollen:  Extreme. At over 1100 pollen grains per 24 hours, tree pollen today is extreme. (See How We Count Pollen)

Predominant: Oak Tree Pollen

Grass Pollen: Low

Ragweed Pollen: Not Seen

Other Weeds: Low

Mold Spores: High

At The Asthma Center,  our allergists and pediatric allergists help our patients manage their allergies by determining what local spring allergens cause symptoms.  For example with spring allergies we identify which local trees (including Oak and Pine) and grasses trigger allergy symptoms by using minimally invasive in-house diagnostics, like allergy skin testing. Pairing these results with local knowledge of allergy triggers like pollen, ragweed and mold, our allergists develop personalized plans that treat not only the symptoms but also the cause of allergies. And because allergy symptoms often spike with pollen, we know exactly when to adjust allergy medication – providing more relief when conditions are bad and less medication every time else. 

Our allergists, pediatric allergists, and asthma specialists treat patients in 9 convenient locations throughout the Delaware Valley including Philadelphia (Center City Philadelphia, Society Hill Philadelphia, Northeast Philadelphia), The Main Line – Montgomery County (Bala Cynwyd – Lower Merion PA), Bucks County (Langhorne PA), and South Jersey (Mt. Laurel NJ, Woodbury NJ, Hamilton NJ, Forked River NJ).

The health information contained in this article is meant for basic informational purposes only.  It is not intended to serve as medical advice, substitute for a doctor’s appointment or to be used for diagnosing or treating a disease. For interviews and tours of the Delaware Valley’s only National Allergy Bureau (NAB) certified pollen, ragweed, and mold spore counting stations in Philadelphia, PA and Mt. Laurel, NJ, please email gwoodlyn@asthmacenter.com.

 




Extreme Surge: Early Oak & Pine Tree Pollen

 

Philadelphia, PA – April 11, 2017 – “The nearly extreme level of tree pollen today—more than a seven-fold surge — produced surprises including early increases of Oak & Pine tree pollen.” – Dr. Donald Dvorin, Board Certified Allergist at The Asthma Center, and the only official National Allergy Bureau (NAB) certified pollen, ragweed and mold spore counter for the Delaware Valley. The picture above was taken right from Dr. Dvorin microscope this morning, and features Oak and Mulberry tree pollen.

The Asthma Center’s phones are busy today with reports of allergy misery: nasal congestion and blockage, sneezing, itchy eyes, and coughing!

What’s In the Air?

Tree Pollen: Nearly Extreme. At nearly 950 pollen grains per 24 hours, tree pollen today is nearly extreme. (See How We Count Pollen)

Predominant: Oak & Pine Tree Pollen

Many of the popular “pollen forecasts” are reporting Juniper & Maple as the major tree pollen which is misleading even though these trees are considered traditional “early tree pollinators.”

As the only official National Allergy Bureau (NAB) certified pollen, ragweed and mold spore counter for Philadelphia, PA and South Jersey, Dr. Donald Dvorin found that more than half quarters of today’s air sample is comprised of Oak tree pollen and roughly another one quarter of today’s sample is Pine tree pollen.

Oak is the predominant hardwood tree species in the Philadelphia, PA and South Jersey area, and a single medium to large Oak tree can produce several million pollen grains. When you consider how tiny each pollen grain is (2438 micrometers), that’s a lot of tree pollen.

Dr. Dvorin reviewed his historical data, this very high level of Oak tree pollen is occurring approximately one week to 10 days earlier than last spring (2016) while today’s very high level of Pine tree pollen is several weeks early.

Also of note, Dr. Dvorin observed high levels of the following tree pollen: Walnut, Birch, Mulberry, Juniper, and Sycamore and low levels of Maple, Willow, Ash, Sweetgum, Hickory/Pecan, and Hackberry tree pollen.  Per Dr. Dvorin, the sighting of Hackberry tree pollen is very rare.

Grass Pollen: Low

Ragweed Pollen: Not Seen

Other Weeds: Low

Plantain weed pollen debuts today at low levels.  Dr.  Dvorin reviewed his historical data, and this low level of plantain weed pollen is more than two weeks earlier than last spring (2016).

Mold Spores: High

What to do about Allergies?

 “Follow our pollen counts and pollen blogs,” says Dr. Dvorin. “I’ll keep you as informed as I can about ‘what’s actually in the air”, and be proactive about treatment—if you’re having a bad time now, find out exactly what you’re allergic to, and keep history from repeating itself!”

No two allergy sufferers are alike, so over-the-counter medication may not work well for everyone’s symptoms. Instead, our allergists and pediatric allergists develop personalized treatment plans to help our patients feel better. We identify specific levels of allergic sensitivity using minimally invasive in-house diagnostics, like allergy skin testing. Pairing these results with local knowledge of allergy triggers like pollen, ragweed and mold, our allergists develop personalized plans that treat not only the symptoms but also the cause of allergies. And because allergy symptoms often spike with pollen, we know exactly when to adjust allergy medication – providing more relief when conditions are bad and less medication every time else.

Our allergists, pediatric allergists, and asthma specialists treat patients in 9 convenient locations throughout the Delaware Valley including Philadelphia (Center City Philadelphia, Society Hill Philadelphia, Northeast Philadelphia), The Main Line – Montgomery County (Bala Cynwyd – Lower Merion PA), Bucks County (Langhorne PA), and South Jersey (Mt. Laurel NJ, Woodbury NJ, Hamilton NJ, Forked River NJ).

Ask about our Special Spring Saturday Hours for New Patients (available in selected locations)!

Did You Know? Pollen, Ragweed & Mold Spore Counts Direct to Your Inbox!

The Asthma Center’s daily Pollen, Ragweed and Mold Spore Counts are available by email! With counting stations in Philadelphia, PA and Mt. Laurel, NJ, we are Delaware Valley’s only official pollen source certified by the National Allergy Bureau. Subscribe to receive our daily counts by email and check out some of our other blog posts to learn more about what is in the air, how it can affect you, and what you can do about it.

The health information contained in this article is meant for basic informational purposes only.  It is not intended to serve as medical advice, substitute for a doctor’s appointment or to be used for diagnosing or treating a disease.

For interviews and tours of the Delaware Valley’s only National Allergy Bureau (NAB) certified pollen, ragweed, and mold spore counting stations in Philadelphia, PA and Mt. Laurel, NJ, please email gwoodlyn@asthmacenter.com.

 




EpiPen Auto-Injector Recall Facts

Philadelphia, PA – March 31, 2017 – UPDATE: FDA announces nationwide recall of EpiPen® and EpiPen®JR. If you have been prescribed an adrenaline auto-injector, The Asthma Center advises you to check the lot number and expiration date.

 

According to the 3/29/2017  FDA announcement, at this time, the 13 lots identified – distributed between Dec. 17, 2015, and July 1, 2016 – are the only EpiPen lots impacted by the U.S. recall. 

Product/Dosage NDC Number Lot Number Expiration Date

EpiPen Jr Auto-Injector, 0.15 mg 49502-501-02 5GN767 April 2017

EpiPen Jr Auto-Injector, 0.15 mg 49502-501-02 5GN773 April 2017

EpiPen Auto-Injector, 0.3 mg 49502-500-02 5GM631 April 2017

EpiPen Auto-Injector, 0.3 mg 49502-500-02 5GM640 April 2017

EpiPen Jr Auto-Injector, 0.15 mg 49502-501-02 6GN215 September 2017

EpiPen Auto-Injector, 0.3 mg 49502-500-02 6GM082 September 2017

EpiPen Auto-Injector, 0.3 mg 49502-500-02 6GM072 September 2017

EpiPen Auto-Injector, 0.3 mg 49502-500-02 6GM081 September 2017

EpiPen Auto-Injector, 0.3 mg 49502-500-02 6GM088 October 2017

EpiPen Auto-Injector, 0.3 mg 49502-500-02 6GM199 October 2017

EpiPen Auto-Injector, 0.3 mg 49502-500-02 6GM091 October 2017

EpiPen Auto-Injector, 0.3 mg 49502-500-02 6GM198 October 2017

EpiPen Auto-Injector, 0.3 mg 49502-500-02 6GM087 October 2017

What to do:

  • If you have a 0.15 mg EpiPen®  Jr or 0.3 mg EpiPen® , check the lot number and expiration which are found on the label of the pen or on the end of the carton.
  • If your 0.15 mg EpiPen®  Jr or 0.3 mg EpiPen®  matches any of the lot numbers/expirations above,  return it immediately to your pharmacist.  Your pharmacist will replace it FREE OF CHARGE.

     

 

 

Philadelphia, PA – March 29, 2017 – “According to the makers of EpiPen®, the recalled EpiPen® 300 µg Auto-Injectors were not distributed in the United States.  However, if you have been prescribed an adrenaline auto-injector, we still advise you to check the lot number and expiration date.”

Dr. Marc Goldstein, Board-Certified Allergist at The Asthma Center

 

EpiPen Recall Facts

  • EpiPen®Adrenaline Injection Auto-Injector is used to treatment of allergic emergencies (Anaphylaxis).
  • Mylan-owned Alphapharm Pty Ltd, following consultation with the Therapeutic Goods Administration, is recalling the following batches of EpiPen®300 microgram (µg) Adrenaline Injection Syringe Auto-Injectors due to the potential that these devices may contain a defective part that may result in the device failing to activate or requiring increased force to activate. 

EpiPen® 300 microgram (µg) Adrenaline Injection Syringe Auto-Injector

Batch Number(s) 5FA665, 5FA6651, 5FA6652, 5FA6653

Expiration: Apr 17

  • Devices included in the recall were distributed in Australia, New Zealand, Japan and a variety of European countries including Denmark, Norway, Finland and Ireland, but not in the United States.
  • If you have a 300 microgram (µg) EpiPen® , check the batch number and expiration which are found on the label of the pen or on the end of the carton.

If your EpiPen®   300 microgram (µg) matches the batch numbers 5FA665, 5FA6651, 5FA6652, 5FA6653 and has an expiration of Apr 17, return it immediately to your pharmacist.  Your pharmacist will replace it FREE OF CHARGE.

 

Anaphylaxis: The Most Serious Allergic Reaction

Allergists recognize that the anaphylaxis (a life-threatening allergic emergency) can have multiple causes such as allergic sensitivity to foods, drugs, insect sting, and exercise.   Evaluation for risk of anaphylaxis extensive history, physical examination, and specific diagnostic tests to identify all possible causes.  Our allergists and pediatric allergists at The Asthma Center are well suited to evaluate individuals with anaphylaxis.

The Asthma Center allergists and pediatric allergists can make a potentially life-saving difference if you (or someone you love) are at risk for anaphylaxis.

Our allergists, pediatric allergists, and asthma specialists treat patients in 9 convenient locations throughout the Delaware Valley including Philadelphia (Center City Philadelphia, Society Hill Philadelphia, Northeast Philadelphia), The Main Line – Montgomery County (Bala Cynwyd – Lower Merion PA), Bucks County (Langhorne PA), and South Jersey (Mt. Laurel NJ, Woodbury NJ, Hamilton NJ, Forked River NJ).

 

The health information contained in this article is meant for basic informational purposes only.  It is not intended to serve as medical advice, substitute for a doctor’s appointment or to be used for diagnosing or treating a disease.

For interviews and tours of the Delaware Valley’s only National Allergy Bureau (NAB) certified pollen, ragweed, and mold spore counting stations in Philadelphia, PA and Mt. Laurel, NJ, please email gwoodlyn@asthmacenter.com.