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Allergy & Asthma

Allergy Facts

  • It is a good idea to know exactly what you are allergic to and take that into account at all times
  • An indoor air-filter can help with airborne allergies, such as pollen. Also, try to avoid going outside for long periods of time during the allergy season.
  • If you can’t avoid being outside during the allergy season, try wearing a mask.
  • Avoid damp, moist areas where mold grows.
  • Do not mow your own lawn, pay someone to do it for you.
  • Keep your house and rooms dry by using a dehumidifier.
  • Remove blinds, carpets, and any other objects that are home to large amounts of dust.
  • Use allergy proof pillowcases and bedding covers.
  • If animals are present, bath them frequently and brush them outdoors.
  • Do not allow pets in the bedroom.
  • Vacuum often with a HEPA filter.
  • Do not eat foods that you are allergic to.
  • Carry a card with your allergy information, or wear a medic alert bracelet.
  • Always have an Epi pen close by for emergencies

Allergy Management

Allergies are incredibly common in the United States. It is estimated that one out of every six Americans suffers from allergies. But what is an allergy? An allergy is defined as an increased sensitivity or abnormal reaction to specific substances, or “allergens.” Many people suffer from allergic rhinitis, otherwise known as hay fever. Its symptoms are extremely similar to a common cold, causing a runny nose, itchy nose, sneezing, and watery/itchy eyes. Many people are fooled into thinking that they have a cold when in fact they are suffering from allergies.

The amount that allergens bother people can vary greatly. Some people are only allergic to limited number of things, and do not have symptoms that can interfere with daily activities. Others are incredibly allergic to certain substances or allergens, and contact with the allergen can be life threatening. A life-threatening allergic reaction is known as Anaphylaxis.

Anaphylaxis is defined as an acute allergic reaction, which affects the entire body and requires immediate medical attention. Symptoms include itching of the skin, anxiety, nausea, vomiting, headache, coughing, sneezing, abdominal cramps, swelling of tissues (like joints and lips), hives, wheezing, shortness of breath, low blood pressure, loss of consciousness, and convulsions. An epinephrine injection can often times save the life of a person having an anaphylactic reaction. An Epi pen should always be near a person who has severe allergies.

Allergies can be controlled, but not prevented. The best way to control them is to remove yourself from what is causing the allergic reactions. If pollen is the cause, avoid going outdoors on days when you know that the pollen will affect you. It is also possible to undergo immunotherapy for allergies. Injections of the allergen are given in gradually increasing amounts, helping to “desensitize” your body. There are also numerous over-the-counter and prescription drugs available to help control allergy symptoms. Talk to your physician to find out what treatment is most suitable to you.

Food Allergy & Eczema

For infants, food allergies and eczema are the entrance into the world of eventual general allergies and asthma. Especially if there is a family history. At 1st Allergy & Asthma (and the division called the Food Allergy & Eczema Institute) we strive to identify these children and attempt early intervention that could decrease their chance of allergies and asthma later. We can be quite successful at treating these children. We also have protocols to guide an “allergic mom” in what to do before pregnancy, during pregnancy, and during breastfeeding to maximize the chances that their newborn will not develop allergies or asthma.

For older children and adults, food allergies and eczema may just be the tip of the iceberg. Often there are also unidentifed allergies that can be contributing to “sinus trouble”, coughing, fatigue, and headaches. Vague abdominal symptoms can represent food allergies or “food intolerance”. It is important to identify triggers and avoid them. Other natural interventions can be useful (dietary counseling and supplements). Sometimes there is an undelying mild immune deficiency (such as IgA deficiency) or a systemic condition (celiac disease) that is important to address.

At 1st Allergy & Asthma and the Food Allergy & Eczema Institute we have full diagnostic capability to identify all causes of food related symptoms. We can then start the latest effective interventions, including “alternative therapies” if desired. We look forward to working with you to attain maximum health and productivity for you or your child.

Asthma Facts

  • Asthma is a chronic inflammation of the lung airways that causes coughing, chest tightness, wheezing or shortness of breath.
  • An estimated 20.3 million Americans have asthma; 6.3 million are under 18.
  • Asthma mortality is 4,500 deaths per year.
  • Mortality is especially high among African-Americans, with a death rate at least three times greater than for Caucasians.
  • Asthma results in 478,000 hospitalizations and 2 million emergency room visits.
  • Asthma is the most common chronic illness in childhood, accounting for 14 million missed school days each year.  It also accounts for 14.5 million lost work days for adults.
  • The estimated economic cost of asthma is $14 billion annually.
  • Direct medical expenditures associated with asthma, including hospital care, physicians’ services and medications, are estimated at $9.4 billion annually.
  • Indirect medical expenditures, including lost work days for adults suffering from asthma or caring for children with asthma and lost future earnings from premature deaths associated  with asthma, total $4.6 billion annually.
  • Triggers that can initiate an asthma attack include allergens such as pollen, dust, animal dander, drugs and food additives, as well as viral respiratory infections and physical exertion.
  • Asthma is often hereditary.
  • Weather conditions such as extremely dry, wet or windy weather can worsen an asthma condition.
  • Effective asthma treatment includes monitoring the disease with a peak flow meter, identifying and avoiding allergen triggers, using drug therapies including bronchodilators and anti-inflammatory agents, and developing an emergency plan for severe attacks.
  • There are two types of asthma medications: long-term control and quick-relief medications.  Long-term control medications are preventative, taken daily to achieve and maintain control of asthma symptoms.  Quick-relief medications are used to treat asthma attacks.   They relieve symptoms rapidly and are taken on an as-needed basis.
  • One of the most effective medications for controlling asthma is inhaled corticosteroids, which are anti-inflammatory medications.  Taken early and as directed, these well-tolerated and safe medications can improve asthma control, normalize lung function, and possibly prevent irreversible injury to lung airways.
  • Immunotherapy or allergy vaccinations should be considered if asthma is triggered by exposure to unavoidable allergens, if symptoms occur year-round or during a majority of the year, or if it is difficult to control symptoms with medication.