Monday, May 4, 2015

Can Pollen Cause Food Allergies?

Spring not only brings out beautiful flowers, but the produce in the grocery stores and farmers markets looks so delicious.  Fresh fruits and vegetables for some are cause for fear.  Biting into them causes small water filled blisters and itchy lips.

Is it Possible that Pollen Can Cause Food Allergies?  

  • Nature uses similar patterns over again as building blocks.  Patterns similar on various pollens look like proteins that are also present on fruits and vegetables.  Direct contact with these patterns say when biting into for example, a fresh apple, may cause a local reaction.  
  • This is called oral allergy syndrome or pollen-food syndrome

What are Typical Cross Reacting Pollens and Foods?

Birch Pollen:  Apples, almonds, carrot, peanut, carrot, celery, cherry, hazelnut, kiwi, peach, pear, and plum

Grass Pollen- celery, melon, oranges, peaches, and tomato

Ragweed- banana, cucumber, melons, sunflower seeds and zucchini

What Are Symptoms of Oral Allergy Syndrome?

  • Itchy mouth, scratchy throat or localized swelling of lips, tongue, or throat
  • Itchy ears
  • Symptoms localized to the area of contact
How Do you Diagnose Oral Allergy Syndrome?

  • See your allergist.  Food allergies can be dangerous and lead to life threatening events.  You want to be sure that you have oral allergy syndrome and not a true food allergy.
  • You may need epinephrine and/or other allergy medication.  Your allergist will be able to help determine a specific anaphylaxis plan.  
  • Want to be evaluated for oral allergy syndrome?  Book an appointment here.   Gramercy Allergy is located near Union Square at 205 East 22nd Street New York, NY 10010

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Can Allergies Cause My Headaches?

When headaches strike, most of us run through a list of typical causes and reach for some ibuprofen for quick relief.  But what if you have allergies?  Should you be reaching for allergy treatment to get headache relief instead?  

Millions of people suffer from allergies and don't even know it. Identifying headache triggers is an important tool in the prevention of headaches.  Patients commonly complain of symptoms of facial pain and pressure, eye pain, and in increase in headaches in the spring.  These are typical signs of a sinus headache.  Many have missed an obvious important environmental trigger for their pain - pollen and other environmental triggers.
How Can Allergies Cause Sinus Headaches?

Picture of the Human Sinuses

  • Sinus cavities are hollow spaces with openings to the nose allow the flow of air and mucous into the nose.
  • Cavities are located over the cheeks (maxillary sinuses), forehead (frontal sinuses), and over/between eyebrows (sphenoid and ethmoid sinuses) (See above diagram).
  • Breathing in breathing in pollen, pet dander, dust, and other allergic triggers can trigger localized inflammation in the sinus cavities
  • Allergic inflammation can trigger pain and pressure in the corresponding area face.
  • Allergic inflammation triggers localized swelling in the sinuses that disrupts normal blood flow and drainage of blood and mucous. 
  • This buildup of pressure causes pain and allergic inflammation known as allergic sinusitis.  
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?
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.

Monday, March 9, 2015

How Can You Be Prepared for New York's Spring Allergy Season?

How Can You Be Prepared for New York's Spring Allergy Season?

The arrival of spring is on everyone's mind after all of the snow and bitter cold temperatures we've had this past winter.  Longer days and more sunlight will soon trigger tree's to start pollinating.  Tree pollen in New York is potent and causes many to suffer from symptoms of itchy watery eyes, runny nose, sinus headaches, and cold like symptoms.

What Can You Do to Be Prepared for New York's Spring Allergy Season?

Here are 5 simple tips to keep you feeling great this spring season.

Get Tested
Knowing what you’re allergic to and what triggers your symptoms is the first step to avoiding the offending pollen.  There are many non-medical ways of avoiding allergens. 

Start Medications Early
Your allergist will help you create a plan of when to start medications, and which medications work quickly. Taking allergy medications early and as directed can prevent you from developing severe symptoms that can interfere with your work, school and life. 

Rock a Hollywood Look
Always pack and use sunglasses this spring.  Glass help protect your eyes from airborne pollens and dust.  This will help stop itchy watery eyes without the use of medications.

Change Your Routine
Showering at night will help wash away airborne tree pollens off your hair so you aren’t carrying them into your bed at night. 

Spring Board Your Exercise Routine For the Beach Season
Tree pollens are highest in the morning.  Change your exercise routine from morning to evening to help naturally decrease your exposure to tree pollen.

Want more specific advice on surviving New York’s Allergy Season?  Visit our website http://www.gramercyallergy.com or click here to schedule an appointment online.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

7 Fun Ways to celebrate Valentines Day Allergy free this year!

Celebrating Valentine's Day with someone who's allergic can be challenge.  Here are a few tips to help you have a fun allergy free Valentines Day.  You'll be spreading love, not allergies!

1. Eat Chocolate!
Want to surprise your loved one with chocolate? Go for a dark one! Dark chocolate is filled with flavanoids, strong anti-oxidant chemicals that help to reduce inflammation. Dark chocolate is milk free making it a perfect gift if your loved one is allergic.
2. Play!
When you have a partner, you have an instant playmate. Take advantage of it and organize a game of indoor tennis, hit the gym, take a dance class, or go for a romantic walk. More and more evidence points to the role of exercise in keeping not only your body fit, but your immune system functioning at it's peak performance.
3. Relax!
Thinking of doing something special for loved one? Try a massage. Use mineral oil to prevent an allergic reaction if your partner has sensitive skin.  Physical affection helps to decrease cortisol levels, a key hormone that leads to inflammation.

4. Kiss!
 Did you know that food proteins can be transferred in the saliva causing an unwanted allergic reaction. To prevent a kiss from being dangerous, avoid foods that might trigger a reaction in your partner.  If there's no food allergies, then go ahead and give your loved one a kiss. It's can be the perfect allergy free gift.
5. Give Flowers!
Roses, tulips daffodils and orchids are some of the least allergenic flowers. Stay away from daisies, goldenrod, sunflowers, chamomile, and chrysanthemums.  They are among the worst. 
6. Cook!
Cook a meal filled with fresh fruits and vegetables. You’ll know exactly what the ingredients are in the meal.  Use a rainbow of different ingredients and colors to include key vitamins like C, D, E, A, and Zinc that are vital for you immune systems function. Here are tips on Allergy Free meals

7. Quit!
Do you smoke? Tobacco smoke is linked with increases in upper respiratory illnesses, asthma exacerbations, and ear infections. Make quitting your ultimate gift for your loved ones! Need tips?  Quit Here! NYS Smoke Free

Above all else, have fun this Valentine’s day with your partner and show those around you how much you love and appreciate them!
Need more ideas?  Visit Gramercy Allergy And Asthma or book an appointment here.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

How Do You Know If You Have Allergy, Asthma or Eczema?

Allergies, asthma and eczema (skin allergy) affect millions of people and many don't even know they have allergy.  What are signs?  A stuffy nose when you sleep at night, constantly blowing your nose,  always being itchy or a nighttime cough are just a few of the symptoms that indicate you might have allergies, asthma, and/or eczema.

Here are some other questions to ask yourself to help determine if you have allergy.

1) Do you cough or have trouble breathing when you walk, do simple chores or go outside in the cold?

2) Do you avoid exercise or taking part in sports like jogging, soccer, swimming or aerobics because you have trouble breathing or cough?

3) Do you have trouble sleeping through the night because of a dry cough or shortness of breath?

4) Do pets, dust or pollen make your breathing more difficult?

5) Do you dread the change of season because you know you'll get a cold and/or sinus infection?

6) Do your eyes itch, get red or puffy?

7) Does a cold often go into your chest and leave a lingering dry cough?

8) Do you get frequent rashes or are always itchy?

9) Do you have sneezing attacks?

10)  Does tobacco smoke or strong odors make you cough?

If you answered yes to more than 2 questions, you  are likely have allergy.  See an allergist to get tested and determine exactly what is triggering your symptoms and how you can avoid it.  Allergies are treatable.

Need help?  Visit our website www.gramercyallergy.com or click here to schedule an appointment.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Why Are My Lips Itchy and Dry?

Cold temperatures and harsh winds can bring about dry itchy skin and peeling lips.  Lip balm usage is on the uptick this holiday season.  More are looking for protection and treatment for delicate skin, covering lips so they look their best at holiday parties and date nights.

For some, the entire answer to why their lips peel and itch isn't just the extreme weather.  Is it possible that an allergy can make your lips peel and itch?  Of course!

Chemicals we use on our face and hands is a common cause of itchy, dry and irritated lips. This condition is called lip contact dermatitis.  Often people think they just have "dry" lips and continue using the products that are actually the source of the problem.  Chemicals in lipsticks, lip balms and nail polish are common sources of the irritations to lips.

What causes lip contact dermatitis?
  •  Inflammation and irritation of the lips caused by common chemicals in make-up , toothpaste, lipstick/balm, facial wash, and products we use our hands.
  • Repeated application of chemicals causes allergic sensitization
  • Common chemicals that cause lip contact dermatitis include:
    • shellac- commonly found in lipsticks/lip balms
    • fragrance- commonly found in most personal care products, gum, mouthwash and toothpaste
    • nickel- contamination in some make-up or transferred from lip product container
    • sunscreen
    • varnish found in nail polish
    • preservatives- commonly found in all personal care items.
  • Irritants from toothpaste, lip balms and licking lips can also cause a non-allergic dermatitis 
What is the treatment for lip contact dermatitis?
  • Identification of the chemical allergy and avoidance will cure the dermatitis.
  • Evaluation by an allergist will help determine if the irritation, infection or is caused by an chemical allergy or a irritant reaction.  
  • Patch testing for common chemicals used in the personal care products will help determine what to avoid.
Need more help?  Call the office or schedule appointment here.

Monday, November 17, 2014

How To Deal With Food Allergies When You're A Guest At Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.  There's always space at the table for unexpected friends or family members to join in a huge communal feast.  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 at Thanksgiving:

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