Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Welcome Dr. Meng Chen!

Gramercy Allergy and Asthma is excited to welcome Dr. Meng Chen, MD to our practice.  Treating both adults and children, Dr. Chen is an expert the field of hives (urticaria) and angioedema, food allergy, aspirin exacerbated respiratory disease, drug allergy and recurrent fever disorders. 

Dr. Meng Chen’s practice style focuses on delivering high quality patient-centered care. She believes that carefully listening to a patient’s concerns and providing education and counseling are key cornerstones of a productive and meaningful healthcare experience.  She works diligently with you to find solutions so you can live your best life, allergy free.  She treats you the way she would treat her family and believes is best accomplished by truly caring for the patient.  She also prides herself in timeliness and efficiency.

Dr. Meng Chen, MD brings southern charm with a west coast feel to New York City.  She is originally from Beijing and grew up in both Charlottesville, VA  and San Francisco, CA.  She is a recent graduate from the University of California, San Diego and Rady Children’s Hospital where she completed her Allergy & Immunology fellowship under the guidance of national leaders in the field.  Prior to that Dr Chen completed her undergraduate studies at the University of California, Berkeley where she studied Immunology.  She received her doctorate of medicine from the University of California, San Francisco.  She completed her Internal Medicine residency at the University of California, Los Angeles.  

Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her family (husband, a sweet toddler, 2 cats, and dogs).  They all enjoy hiking together and exploring New York City.  She enjoys yoga and cooking. 

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Milk and Egg #Allergy – Can My Kid Eat Cake?!

Milk and Egg Allergies – Can My Kid Eat Cake?!     
By Dr. Meng Chen, MD

Food allergies are on the rise, especially in children.  Cow’s milk and hen’s egg allergies are common culprits in young children.  The good news is that studies have shown that about two-thirds of children who are allergic to cow’s milk and hen’s egg can actually eat them when they are cooked into a baked good, such as muffins and cakes!  In fact, eating these goods on a regular basis may help speed up resolution of the allergy.  Plus, it can significantly improve your family’s quality of life and expand dietary options. 

How do I find out if my child can eat baked goods?

  • Come into GramercyAllergy  for a thorough evaluation.  GramercyAllergy  will go over your child’s history of reactions to milk and egg and determine what testing is most appropriate.
  • Testing can include skin testing and bloodwork to help determine whether your child will likely be able to eat baked goods.
  • If the testing indicates there is a good chance that your child can eat baked egg or milkGramercyAllergy will recommend an in-office oral food challenge.  During an oral food challenge, we feed your child a baked good in graded doses under careful monitoring and observation.
  • If your child passes, we will send you home with instructions on how to incorporate baked goods into the diet! 
  • GramercyAllergy recommend coming into the office for a full evaluation rather than trying baked goods at home as serious reactions can occur.

Tips if your child can already eat baked goods

  • -Eat baked goods at least three times a week
  • -Make sure the products are cooked all the way through!  Undercooked batter can trigger reactions
  • -It is important to avoid other forms of milk and/or egg that are not mixed with batter and heated extensively.  For example, watch out for frosting!
  • -Follow up at GramercyAllergy so we can monitor your child’s food allergies over time.  There is a good chance that your child will outgrow milk and egg allergies.  Regular follow up helps us provide guidance on when it might be appropriate to test if they have outgrown their allergies!

Does your child have a milk or egg allergy?  Need more specific help?  Please call GramercyAllergy  or click here to schedule an appointment to determine if your child might be able to consume baked goods!

You can follow us on facebook and @gramercyallergy for more specific advice.  

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Spring time #Allergy in #NYC

Do you have questions about spring time allergies you've always wanted to ask?
Now's the perfect chance!

Tomorrow between noon and 2PM I'll be on NYU's Doctor radio with Dr. Max April, a pediatric ENT, talking about springtime allergies. 

 Call with questions tomorrow  877 NYU DOCS (877-698-3627) 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Food Allergies and the Holidays: Tips for being a guest this holiday season.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays- it marks the start of a holiday season of many communal feasts.  For the 15 million Americans who suffer from food allergies, it can mark the start of a stressful period.  All those dishes with potentially hidden food ingredients.

If you have food allergies, getting the invite to go a  new home is scary.  You have to confide in your friends information about your health and potentially something that can make you very sick.  Having food allergies shouldn't stop you from enjoying the generosity of others.

Here are 5 easy tips to deal with food allergies during the holidays:

1) Communicate
  • Give your host ample time to make substitutions to the menu by telling them clearly your allergies. Bring it up one time and then avoid constant reminders about your allergy
  • Find out what the menu will be and if they are planning on cooking with something that causes a food allergy
2) Offer to help
  • Offer to bring the salad, stuffing or dessert.  This are foods that often have multiple ingredients that can be difficult to identify.
  • If your allergy is especially difficult to avoid, then offer to bring food for yourself.
  • There are easy substitutions for milk, eggs, and nuts available.  
    • Milk- any of the milk substitutes (coconut milk, rice milk, soy milk, almond milk, oat milk etc) can be used 1:1 in any recipe.
    • Eggs- applesauce and banana's are great substitutes for cookies and cakes.
    • Nuts- keep them on the side, or make 2 dishes 1 with and 1 without.
    • Here's a great website for more information Cooking with Food Allergies
3)  Educate yourself
  • Sit down with your allergist and put together a specific plan on what to do if there's an accidental ingestion.
  • Consider foods that might have hidden ingredients (cocktails, baked goods, stuffing, mashed potato etc..)
4) Be prepared
  • Be sure to have an epinephrine auto-injector in your bag along with an anti-histamine.
  • Consult with your allergist about recipes and ideas on how to approach the situation.
  • Know where the closest hospital is in case there is an accidental ingestion.
5) Enjoy yourself
  • Trust those around you to take your allergy seriously.  
  • Don't let your food allergies spoil the holidays. 
  • Here's to your good health and those around you 
Need more specific help?  Please call the office or click here to schedule an appointment

You can follow us on facebook and @gramercyallergy for more specific advice.  

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

5 Fast Facts About Fall Asthma, Allergies and Eczema

Changing fall leaves and rapidly changing temperatures, make most people forget about fall allergies and potential triggers of allergies eczema and asthma.  Here are 5 fast facts to keep in mind this fall to keep your allergies and asthma under control.

1) Mold and Ragweed pollens are triggers of Fall asthma. 
  • Decaying leaves, high humidity levels  increased rain and warmer temperatures keep mold spores and pollen levels higher for longer periods of time.
  • Get tested so you know what your potential triggers are, which fall weeds you might be sensitive to and learn about mold spores.
  • Following pollen counts before you head out doors to enjoy the sceneary may help prevent an asthma attack.
2) Loving the Indian Summer?   This keeps pollen and mold spore levels higher for longer periods of time.

  • Fall plants and pollen producers pollinate starting in mid August.  Levels can remain high until the first frost.  
  • Pollen on the ground is blown up on windy days creating a burst of pollen and mold spores in the air that can trigger asthmatic symptoms. 
3) Love the fall colors, hay rides, and trips for apple picking?  These activities are prime for exposure to mold spores.

  • Most fall time mold comes from decaying plant life including leaves, and fruits.  Wet hay is the perfect place for mold to grow.
  • Make sure you use your inhaler or bring with you the next time your heading out for these classic fall time actvivities
4) Feeling a bit more winded from running outside? Fall is a great time to start a running program but can trigger exercise induced asthma.

  • Rapid changes in temperature and humidity are the perfect triggers for exercise induced asthma
  • Symptoms include mild shortness of breath, chest tightness, and a cough after running or exercising outdoors.
  • Persons with a history of childhood asthma are more likely to have symptoms brought on by exercise
  • See your allergist if you suspect you are having these symptoms for a check up.
5) Is your skin a bit more dry and itchy? October is National Eczema month for a reason.  Fall is a common trigger of eczema.
  • Eczema, an allergic skin condition, affects over 30 million Americans!
  • Dry skin triggered by changes in temperature and humidity levels can trigger eczema to flare. 
  • Increasing your skin care regimine with extra moisturization and help prevent a flare up.
  • Want more information about eczema- Check out the National Eczema website.

Gramercy Allergy hopes these tips help you enjoy the Fall!

Want more directed tips on allergies and travel?  Click here to schedule an appointment, or visit our www.gramercyallergy.com

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Monday, June 12, 2017

How to Travel Safely With Allergies!

Pack your bags and lets go- summer is finally in full swing!  High temperatures in NYC are driving people to the beach and other fun locations.  Kids have the count down on for when school is out.  

But for those with allergies, traveling can be stressful and difficult.  I've put together these easy tips that I hope will make your trip more focused on rest and relaxation and less about your allergies. Gramercy Allergy wishes you the BEST summer!

Have food allergies?

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

Have mold and dust mite allergies?
  • Many rentals at the beach are havens for dust mites and mold. High humidity is the perfect environment for both these allergens to grow.
  • Speak with your allergist for a perfect plan to keep your eyes from itching and nose from being runny/congestion while on your trip.  No one wants to feel like they got the "perfect cold" on vacation.

                                Image result for beach house

Have asthma?
  • Bring an extra inhaler along with you in your bag.  You never know what kind of environmental triggers you'll be exposed to in your vacation home.
  • Check out common triggers/environmental exposures you might face in that location.  Weather.com can give you specific information about pollen and mold counts depending on where you are headed.
  • Ask your doctor to put together an emergency supply of medicine that you can bring with you in case you get sick- this will help keep you out of an unfamiliar emergency room.

Have skin allergies?
  • Bring travel size versions of your favorite sunscreens, moisturizers, shampoos/conditioners.  Most manufactures make 3 oz versions that are perfect to keep in your travel bag.  Look for Pure and Free in the name.  This typically means a mineral based sunscreen.  Neutrogena makes a great on just for faces.  
  • Ask your doctor for a small tube of a corticosteroid to carry with you just in case; no one wants to be itchy and scratchy while on vacation

Going somewhere where they speak another language?
  • If you have food allergies  translate your food allergy before you go.  It might help to put this on a card and carry it with you to make sure there's no confusion.  Look for pictures of the foods- don't assume that the person you are talking to is able to read or will know what the food is.  
  • In many countries asthma and allergy medications are over the counter.  Translate your problem so you'll be able to effectively communicate with the pharmacist there.
                                      Related image

With these simple effective tips, your vacation will be filled with laughter, love, and beautiful memories rather than a trip the doctor

Want more directed tips on allergies and travel?  Click here to schedule an appointment, or visit our www.gramercyallergy.com

Like us at https://www.facebook.com/gramercyallergy
Follow us @gramercy allergy.com 

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

How to Beat Springtime Eczema in NYC? #1in5


Sprintime eczema is one of the most common complaints coming into my office this time of the year.  Kids and adults alike are itchy and scratchy all over. High levels of tree pollen for many can trigger itchy skin changes.   Rapid changes in temperature and humidity that are classic for NYC can trigger an eczema flare leaving families feeling helpless, sleepy  and ITCHY.

Classic areas that eczema appears are the areas of elbows and behind knees.

What can you do to help get skin back under control and possibly even prevent an eczema flare this NYC summer?

    • Keeping skin well hydrated will help prevent an eczema flare
    • Stay hydrated with plenty of water (avoid juices and sugary beverages)
    • Bath daily in warm water and avoid strong soaps
    • Make sure skin is covered in a good moisturize when still wet
      • Pat dry leaving a layer of water on the skin that you can trap into the skin with a moisturizer
    • Have a plan to stop scratching.
    • Keep emollients like Vaseline, Crisco, Aquaphor of Vaniply in the refrigerator; the cool temperature applied directly to itchy inflamed skin will stop the itch.  Wrap inflamed areas in wet cool paper towels before applying emollients. 
    • Use topical steroids and oral anti-histamines if needed.
    • Your doctor may advise topical and/or oral antibiotics if skin becomes infected. 
    • Get into an oatmeal-Epsom salt bath
    • See an allergist to help you identify the cause and trigger of the eczema
    • Tree pollen can trigger eczema. 
    • Potential causes may be foods (milk, eggs, and nuts are the most common), lotions, sunscreens and detergents, and skin allergy to dust mite, summertime weeds, and animals.
    • Contact dermatitis (an allergy to chemicals in personal care products) is an often overlooked cause of eczema.  
    • Identifying other triggers can help you prevent future attacks.  Your doctor may recommend patch testing, a way to look for chemical allergy. 

Want to read more about eczema- Check out the National Eczema Foundation 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

What is Thunderstorm Induced Asthma? #1in5

Did you see the lightening storm in NYC this past week?  Wow- it was amazing! The sky was filled with an amazing display of electricity and air with loud claps of thunder.   I really enjoyed watching it, but also waited for the second wave you may not know about...

The day after a thunder/lightening storm there is a  10 fold increase in asthma admissions to the emergency department!  Many patients this week are complaining of worsening asthma symptoms and may not make the connection between the nighttime storm and their asthma.

What's going on?

Many would think that the rain would "clean the air" of pollen and pollutants knocking the irritants from the air to the ground, but this is not the case.  Why do thunderstorms trigger asthma?

We don't know...

Some possible hypotheses on why thunderstorms trigger asthma are:
  • Perhaps it's a device used by nature to pollinate when there's water available for things to grow.
  • Others hypothesize that pollen grains rupture with contact from rain drops.  The pollen gets picked up by the winds occupied by the storm spreading.
  • Fungal and mold spores increase the day after a storm along with pollen counts.
  • Tree pollen spikes after a storm. 

Regardless of the reason, if you suffer from thunderstorm induced asthma, be prepared with your medications so you don't end up in the emergency room!

Here are some tips to prevent thunderstorm induced asthma:
  • Stay indoors the day after a storm
  • Have your medications on hand, make sure they aren't expired.
  • Keep your windows closed the day after the storm
  • Follow your asthma action plan
Most of all- if you are having signs/symptoms of asthma see your doctor.  Sadly, each day 9 people die from asthma.

Pollen counts continue to be very high in NYC.  Get help for your asthma and allergies in NYC with Gramercy Allergy.  Need help getting your asthma under control this spring or what other tips?  See an allergist and find relief! Gramercy Allergy and Asthma is ready to help you get control of your asthma.

Want to set up an appointment with Dr. Jennifer Collins, MD at Gramercy Allergy and Asthma?  Click here  We are located at 205 East 22nd Street, NY NY 10010

Sunday, April 16, 2017

How Do Allergies Cause Headaches?

More sunshine, warmer weather and spring pollen bring about longer happier days and the anticipation of springtime fun.  But for the unlucky, pollens can often trigger many other unwanted feelings of poorly controlled allergy symptoms.

During the spring, many of my patients complain to me about headaches.  They feel pain and pressure across their foreheads, around their eyes, and in their cheeks.  Symptoms vary with the weather and are often worse after it rains or a drop in temperature.  For the unlucky, these symptoms may trigger a migraine headache and cause them to miss work or a social engagement.

How Do you Know if Allergies are Causing your Headaches? 

  • Do you feel pressure over your cheeks and forehead?  
  • This may correlate to your sinuses, hollow air spaces in your face.  Sinuses function to increase the area for exchange of air and mucous.  Sinuses produce mucous that can drain into your nose and into the back of your nose.
  • When this area becomes inflamed from allergies, it blocks the normal openings  preventing mucous to back up and cause pain.  
  • Is your nose stuffy?
  • Do you have an associated mucous dripping down the back of your throat?
  • Does only one of your sinuses hurt?
  • Do you have pain radiating to your teeth?
  • Are your headaches seasonal?  

What are Signs of Sinus Headaches Caused by Allergies?
  • Chronic pain and tenderness over the cheeks, forehead, and area between or behind the eyes.
  • Stuffy nose, sneezing, ear pain or pressure, ear fullness, or facial swelling
  • Loss of smell
  • Post nasal drip
  • Triggers of seasonal variation, for example, a headache you get every spring, fall, or with exposure to cleaning.
  • Have other diseases triggered by allergies like asthma, eczema, or allergies in your nose or eyes?  Allergic diseases tend to run together.  If you're an "allergic" person, then allergies in your sinuses might be triggering your allergies.
  • Suspect you're an allergic person, but aren't sure?  Take this easy quiz How Do I Know If I Have Allergies?
What Can you do If You Suspect Allergies are Causing Your Headaches?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then uncontrolled nasal allergies may be one of the triggers of your headaches.

Unsure, get tested to see if and what your are sensitive too.  Knowing your sensitivities can help you take medication preventively  before headaches are triggered.  
Airborn allergens such as pollen are an important trigger of allergic sinusitis.   These are often misdiagnosed as sinus infections, and the treatment can be drastically different.

How Can You Treat Sinus Headaches?
  • If you suffer from headaches, see your primary doctor for a complete evaluation.
  • Suspect you have headaches triggered by uncontrolled allergies?  See an allergist to get tested to identify potential allergic triggers.
  • An allergist will be able to help formulate a specific plan that will include:
    • avoidance measures, 
    • direct medications and 
    • possibly offer allergy shots (a way to desensitize you to your allergic triggers)
  • Want more information on headaches?  Learn more at Allergies and Headaches or The National Headache Foundation.
Have more specific questions for me?  Schedule an appointment here

Dr. Jennifer Collins  is double board certified in allergy and immunology and internal medicine.  She's provided medical care for over a decade in New York City.  Gramercy Allergy is New York City's Premier Allergy practice. Learn more about us at gramercyallergy.com

Or at @gramercyallergy.com

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Valentine's Day and Allergies: How to bring love back into your life!

Recently, I was out with a friend and she asked "Why did I go into allergy?"  I quickly answered,
"Because it brings love back into my patients lives."  She was a bit stunned by my answer and I had to explain.

When I ask my patients what brought them in, they often tell me they are tired of their allergies getting in the way of things they love doing.  They are motivated to find an answer and a solution to the problem so they can get back to doing the things they love.

Typically this time of the year, I write a blog post on how to avoid allergic triggers for your loved one with allergies.  Make sure those chocolates don't have nuts or use caution with products with fragrance I'll advise.

But this year, I wanted to think about Valentine's Day a bit differently.  Some don't have a lover to share the day.  Does that mean you have to deprive yourself of love of life and yourself?  I hope not!   I want to challenge you to think about the things you love but are avoiding because of your allergies.  This Valentine's day I'm hoping to empower you to bring love that you might be avoiding back into you life.

Few recognize the impact of uncontrolled allergies.  Poorly controlled allergies and asthma can prevent you from doing the things you love because of uncontrolled symptoms.  They cause social embarrassment.  How difficult is it to date when you have food allergies?   Poorly controlled asthma can make it difficult to run that race you've always dreamed of completing.   Do you limit your dating options to those without animals because your scared it will trigger a sneezing fit?  Do you dream of having a dog, but don't adopt one because it triggers your asthma?  Are you tired of not being able to wear makeup because it causes you an allergic reaction?  Are you dreading spring because of the migraines you know the pollen will trigger?   Are you embarrassed by your uncontrolled eczema?

Are you avoiding things that bring you love and happiness because of your allergies?  Use Valentines Day as a spring board to take back control of your life.  If any of this sounds familiar  schedule an appointment with Gramercy Allergy.

As an allergist and immunologist, some of my proudest achievements include helping patients with animal allergies go to vet school or get married to that person with a cat.  

Don't let your uncontrolled allergies prevent you from doing the things that bring you happiness and love.  

How can you take control?

1) Get tested by an allergist.  Knowing what you are allergic to is the first step in being aggressive with your allergies.
2) Work with your allergist to set up a plan of reasonable avoidance measures and use of the correct medications.  There are so many over the counter medications for allergies available.  Speak with a doctor before starting medications to make sure you are taking the correct ones.
3) Think about getting allergy shots.  This is a way of changing your immune system to create tolerance to the natural things that make you sick.  Allergy shots, or immunotherapy, has been around since the early 1900's and is a proven treatment for allergic disease.  It's one of the few disease modifying treatments available- AND IT WORKS! Patients often tell me that completing allergy shots is life changing.  

Beyond all, don't let your allergies get in the way of you living and loving your life to it's fullest.  Use Valentines Day to bring love into your life!

 Gramercy Allergy and Asthma is here to help.  Need specific advice and want to schedule an appointment? Dr. Jennifer Collins is affiliated with NYU Langone and Mount Sinai Hospitals.   Gramercy Allergy is New York City's premier allergy office offering full allergy and immunological evaluations.  

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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

What is Cold Induced Asthma?

Over the past few days, New Yorkers have been enjoying springtime weather, but plunging temperatures this weekend may trigger asthma symptoms.  These past few weeks many patients have been coming in with symptoms of uncontrolled asthma triggered by the terrific changes in temperature New York is experiencing.  Many don't realize that that nagging cough they have when going outside, or mild chest tightness is a sign of cold induced asthma.

Asthma, chronic inflammation of the the airways and lungs, is commonly triggered by cold temperatures.    With over 1.1 million New Yorkers suffering from asthma, I thought it might be a good idea to give you some tips on preventing an asthma attack.  What is cold-induced asthma?

Here are 5 tips for preventing an asthma attack when the temperature drops!
1) Use a scarf.

  • Warming air before it enters your lungs can help prevent an asthma attack.
2) Breath via your nose.

  •  Your nose is specially designed to air before it enters into your lungs.

3) Keep well hydrated.

  •  Drinking plenty of water will keep your lungs hydrated from the inside out.  When your lungs are dehydrated you're more likely to have an asthma attack.

4)  Use your inhaler.

  • Use your albuterol inhaler (rescue inhaler) 15-30 minutes before going outside if your asthma is commonly triggered by cold weather.
5) Keep your inhaler warm.

  • Keeping your inhaler in an inside pocket near your body will keep the medicine warm.  Warming the medicine will prevent for a cold spray of medicine into your lungs.
Symptoms of asthma are cough, chest tightness, shortness of breath and wheezing. If you experience any of these and can't get them under control, contact your doctor or the emergency room.

Want to schedule an appointment ?  We accept most insurances and are conveniently located near Union Square and Madison Square Park.

About Me

Jennifer Collins, MD, brings over a decade of experience practicing medicine, conducting research and teaching to Gramercy Allergy & Asthma. She is a thought leader in the field of allergy, asthma and immunology and has been nominated three years in a row to New York’s List of Rising Stars.  Her focus is centered on problem solving to identify realistic and timely solutions to your needs. Continued dedication to learning through academic national conferences and lectures keeps her abreast of the latest cutting edge treatments.  It’s Dr. Collins’s pleasure to bring all of this knowledge to Gramercy Allergy & Asthma to provide comprehensive care for all of your allergy, asthma and immunological needs.
Core to her approach is taking a detailed history to capture your symptoms, identifying the cause of your problem and providing a fast solution. She is an expert in: allergies of the eyes, nose throat, and skin, asthma, chronic sinusitis, nasal polyps, hives, skin rashes, eczema, eosinophilia, drug allergy, aspirin allergy and desensitization, and immunological problems.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

How Does the Infant #Microbiome Affect Allergy?

It seems everyone is trying to repopulate their intestines with "good bacteria" and to eat natural sources of probiotics like kambucha and kimchi.  Catch phrases with the term "microbiome" are in the news and magazines.  More and more of my patients are asking me about the influence of microbiomes (bacteria that naturally populate our body and live with us without harming us) on their health and more importantly on their allergies.  More of the conferences I attend have entire lectures focused on the microbiome.  I recently attended Advances in Autoimmunity at NYU Langone this was an exciting half day lecture series  with speakers from across the country entirely dedicated to talking about the role of bacteria and our immune system.  

Recent studies by researchers at the Henry Ford Health system point to variations in bacteria levels and varieties of bacteria as one of the factors influencing why some children get asthma and allergies and other's don't. They recently reported their findings in Nature Medicine in September.  They showed that variations and low leves of just four kinds of bacteria—Bifidobacteria, Lactobacillus, Faecalibacterium, and Akkermansi led to increased risk of asthma and allergies in children followed by the study to age 4. 

Studying gut bacteria since 2003, researchers at Henry Ford Health System, have been attempting to figure out why some children get asthma and allergies while others don't.   "We have been working for over a decade, trying to figure out why some children get asthma and allergies and some don't," said co-senior author Christine Cole Johnson, PhD, MPH.   There findings are provide more evidence of the role of the microbiome and the development of allergies.  

But were does the microbiome initially come from and does it really affect the development of allergies and other diseases?  

Birth and the MicrobiomeThe microbiome is initially formed at birth and infants are immediately populated with bacteria within a few minutes.  Infants are naturally populated with bacteria at birth from bacteria from their mother through a vaginal delivery.  But what if you have a C-section?  In a small study of 18 babies in Puerto Rico conducted by Maria Dmoniguez - Bello she showed that swabbing  babies delivered via c-section with the mom's vaginal fluids can offer the same benefit as being delivered vaginally.  The first three years of life are key in influencing bacteria that will be with us for the rest of our lives.

Breast Feeding and the Microbiome.  Breast feeding is another important way of transfering mom's bacteria to a new born.  Breast milk contains bacteria Weisella, Leuconostoc, Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, and Lactococcus; these bacteria are important in populating the infant gut. But it's not just the type of bacteria that breast milk supports, but the variety of bacteria. Our immune system loves diversity and this diversity appears to help teach our immune systems to function normally.   Breast milk is highly complex that contains compounds that help nourish these important bacteria. 

 Dog exposure and Infants: Gramercy Allergy loves dogs and here's another reason why- they are important for populating our immune system.  Living with a dog is another important way that infants are populated with bacteria.  These bacteria help "teach" infants what are safe and dangerous signals.  Multiple studies show us that the variations, types and numbers of bacteria living in infant guts affect the development of disease and allergies.  Other ways to influence the microbiome are living with a dog,  "Humans have co-evolved with microbes and as a result we rely on their genomes for certain critical functions. We believe this is particularly true during the earliest stages of human development," Lynch, one of the authors working with Dr. Cole at the  Henry Ford Health System, said. "But lifestyles have changed dramatically over the past several decades: We've significantly reduced our exposure to these environmental microbes our bodies rely on. Having a dog tracks the external environment into the home may be just one way to improve the breadth of microbes babies are exposed to in very early life."  says Lynch. 

Pacifiers and the Microbiome:  Other ways an infant's gut is populated is by  sucking on a pacifier to clean it rather than washing it off (Hesselmar, et al. "Pacifier Cleaning Practices and Risk of Allergy Development. Pediatrics, 2013), and avoidance of antibiotics in the first 2 years of life.  Researchers think that sucking the pacifier rather then cleaning it may transfer of harmless bacteria from their mouth to the child.  These Swedish children had less eczema.  

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Monday, November 7, 2016

Ways to combat Fall Allergies

The allure of fall can be mesmerizing.  Cooler temperatures, breathtaking landscapes, and the warmth of cozy sweaters bring us out into nature for hiking, pumpkin picking, and Halloween parties.  It seems everywhere you look there is a celebration of the last days of the year before winter takes hold. For many fall is a time of severe allergies and asthma.

Rapidly changing temperatures can trigger asthma attacks.  Mold spores from rapidly decaying leaves and late fall weed pollens trigger itchy watery eyes, and nasal symptoms.  Seasonal baked goods are sources of hidden food allergens for many.

What are some tips for you to help prevent allergy symptoms this Fall in New York City so you can enjoy the season to the fullest?

1) Carry a scarf. Wrapping a scarf around your neck and mouth is an easy way to help prevent an asthma attack.  It also provides protection against airborn allergens such as ragweed, mold spores, and fall weed pollens.  The scarf also helps to warm and humidify dry cold air.

2) Keep your rescue asthma pumps handy.
Fall is a time of rapidly changing temperatures and wind gusts.  Changing temperatures can trigger an asthma attack for many.  Wind gusts can bring up pollen and mold spores bringing about an asthma attack.  Asthma symptoms of cough, chest tightness, SOB and wheezing can can be prevented by using a rescue inhaler before symptoms start.  Make sure you inhaler isn't expired!

3) Know what you're allergic too.  Knowing you triggers is an easy way to prevent an allergy attack.  Many with allergies this time of the year think they are coming down with recurrent colds and sinus infections.  Once they learn that they have allergies and the environment is making them sick, they can take preventative measures to stop allergies in their track.  See your allergist to get updated testing. Not sure if you have allergies?  Take the Allergy Symptom Test.

4) Monitor for Food Allergies
Autumn is the being of a heavy social calendar for most.  Invitations to Halloween parties, Friends-giving, housewarmings and fall weddings fill calendars.  Don't be the guest at your next event that needs to call 911 because they've had an anaphylactic reaction to a hidden food ingredient.  Make sure you inspect Halloween candy before it's eaten for nuts, seeds and dyes, tell your hosts of your food allergies so they can plan ahead and even offer to bring your own food before going out.  Take this opportunity to inspect your epinephrine's expiration date. Review your anaphylaxis plan before heading out for the end of the years social scene.

5) Prevent Asthma Symptoms Before Exercising
Many of my patients are running fall races this season.  They complain of having to stop secondary to asthma symptoms and aren't able to exercise their hardest.  Uncontrolled symptoms of asthma slows them down and they are looking for tips to prevent symptoms.  Here are a few tips to prevent symptoms before they strike.

  • Breathe thru your nose.  Your nose will help warm and humidify cold air.  
  • Run with a mask or scarf
  • Cool down after exercise.
  • Use your rescue inhaler