Thursday, December 31, 2009

The first day of the rest of your life...

Happy New Year Everyone!

What will your resolution be? Quit smoking? Start exercising? Eat healthy? Lose a few pounds?

The first 3 are the most common resolutions. We tell ourselves every year, we'll commit to stop smoking, losing weight, or living a healthier lifestyle. Some of us achieve these goals, while others recommitt each year.

Ok, why am I, and allergy doctor talking about this? More, importantly, why are these 3 resolutions it important for YOUR allergies? Here are just a few...

Quit Smoking

- Do it for your kids! Living with a smoker increases the incidence of asthma
- Do it for yourself! Tobbacco is a known irritant and can cause an asthma attack
- Tobacco weakens your immune system and increases your chance of developing a lung infection

Lose Weight
- Weight loss of 5 lbs can improve your asthma symptoms on a daily basis!
- Fat cells are inflammatory in nature and increase your likelihood of developing allergies
- Extra weigth about your belly puts pressure on your lungs, decreasing the space you have to breathe making it more likely you'll have an asthma attack.

So what's my resolution? To help you achieve yours!

For the next few months, I'll be blogging regularly on tips to help you achieve your goals of quitting smoking & weight loss.

Happy New Year! Wishing you a safe, happy and healthy 2010!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Protecting the Environment

Last year, major changes in asthma inhalers took place to reduce the number of chlorofluorocarbons (CFS) in inhalers. CFS are harmful to the environment because they deplete the ozone layer. The ozone layer above earth that protects us from harmful rays for the sun.

Before last year, just about all asthma inhallers contained CFS. The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer states that devices containing CFS can not be manufactured in the United States after December 31, 2009.

How will this affect you? All over the counter asthma medications & Intal will be discontinued.

Make sure you aren't caught without your quick relief asthma medication. Talk to your doctor about getting a perscription for an inhaler without CFS.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Totally Wired

I know how wired New Yorkers are- always on their Black Berry's or iPhones.

Now you can track your asthma for using a downloadable Asthma Journal from a website called Ringful. They even have an app to track the pollen counts.

They have all sorts of cool applications to help you track your health from your workout to your diabetes! Check out their website- http://www.ringful.com/

Having an aging parent in another town, you can get reports on their numbers remotely via your phone.

Now, I'd say that's pretty wired.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Holiday Pets!

Ahh, what could be cuter than a puppy or kitten with a big red bow under the menorah or Christmas tree this season?

Holidays pets are a wonderful idea if you are prepared for the amount of work and effort it takes to have an animal in your home. Most families really contemplate this before they commit to getting a pet. What they don't think about though, is the impact an animal can have an allergies and asthma.

Do your kids or you have asthma or itchy, watery eyes/nose? Before comitting to a pet then, it's a good idea to discussing with your allergist if these animals might aggrevate your symptoms. Allergy shots to animals can help prevent the symtpoms of asthma and nasal allergies.

Are your children very young? Interestingly, there is a lot of data, that families with animals have a lower incidence of asthma in their children.

What can you do if you already have a pet and feel it's causing asthma or nasal symptoms?

* Brush your animal regularly outside
* Keep them out of your bedroom
* Wipe me down on a regular basis with a warm damp cloth

Please let me know if I can help in any way.

Wishing you and yours a very warm and happy holiday season!

Don't Be Caught Without...

As of December 31, Azmacort will be discontinued.

If you or your child is taking this medication, make sure you speak with your doctor to get an alternative medication to keep your asthma well controlled.

With temperatures dropping, snow falling, and the wind blowing, you don't want to be caught without your prevenative asthma medication!

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Last week I wrote on how nickel allergy is becoming one of the most common contact allergies, in fact it won Contact Allergen of the Year by the North American Contact Alllergy Society.

And then, two days ago, The WSJ has an interesting article called, "Till Dermatitis Do Us Part" http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703954904574595943916863808.html
talking about the woes of nickel allergy in wedding rings.

Check it out, I think you'll find it interesting.

Flu #8

This is an easy to use website by NYC.gov for locating flu and H1N1 vaccination centers anywhere you are in the city. You can select via bourough or zip code.



Friday, December 11, 2009

Egg Allergy and the Flu Vaccine

Good news- today the NYC Department of Health announced that the H1N1 vaccine would be available for any interested person.

Do you want to be vaccinated for H1N1 but are allergic to eggs? This may pose a dilema for your doctor and you, but don't despair, there are ways around this.

First, talk to an allergist to be fully evaluated. Sometimes people think they have a food allergy but it's really just an intolerance to the food.

Your allergist can test you with the vaccine by scratching your skin with a small amount of the vaccine to see if you are truely allergic.

If the test is positive, and you still want the vaccine, your allergist can safely vaccinate you by following guidelines from the Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Your allergist will divide the total dosage of the vaccine into smaller doses. These will be injected every 15 minutes until you've received the total dosage. You'll need to be observed for 30 minutes after you receive the last dosage to make sure you don't have an allergic reaction.

So even if you have an allergy to eggs, there are ways to be protected against the flu virus, and H1N1.

Bottom line- get vaccinated to protect yourself and those around you!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

And the Winner Is....


You're probably wondering what I'm talking about, but Nickel was recently named contact allergen of the year by the American Contact Dermatological Society.

So how and why did nickel beat out the competition?
About 6% of Americans suffer from nickel allergy and 15% of all women. We come into contact with nickel on a regular basis through a host of everyday items including cell phones, inexpensive earrings, snaps and buttons on jeans. Nickel salts originally pass into the skin via a break allowing our bodies to become sensitized. The most common route- ear piercings in women.

People with nickle allergy develop an itchy red rash in areas where their skin comes into contact with nickle. For example, on their stomach (snap exposure), cheek (earring contact), or back of neck (necklace clasp exposure).

With gold prices soaring to more than $1000 per ounce, we are likely to see an increase in the incidence of nickle allergy as people try to save on less expensive jewelery alternatives.

Luckily there is an easy test to identify whether an item has nickel or not-Nickel Guard Protect and Detect. This is a solution that will identify if nickel is in the metal.
Finally, if your nickel allergy is severe you may have problems eating certain foods including:

* Chocolate
* Potato
* Salmon
* Nuts and legumes
* Canned Foods
If you suffer from nickel allergy, and you need help managing it, please let me know.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tis the Season

Tis the season to be enjoying egg nog and the warmth of the holiday season, but also have an eczema (atopic dermatitis) flare!

What is eczema? It's a skin condition affecting anywhere for 5 - 15% of the population. It typically starts in childhood as dry itchy skin & the more you scratch the worse the skin gets.

Normally, your skin acts as our first line defense from the outside world, protecting us from bacteria and environmental allergens. People with eczema actually have a defect in their skin with a protein called fillagrin, causing a disruption in this natural barrier. If you think about skin cells like bricks and mortar, fillagrin is the mortar and it helps hold the skin cells tight together. When it doesn't work correctly, the skin cells leak letting all types of environmental allergens get in & start on allergic reaction. The more you scratch your skin, the more disruption you cause to the skin, perpetuating the cycle. Winter is problematic for people with eczema because the cold weather and indoor heat drys our skin out even more.

What can you do to prevent this?

* Keep your skin as moist as possible- soak in a tub or take a long (at least 10 min shower) and then apply an emolient like vaseline or aquaphor to trap the water inside.
* Don't scratch!
* Keep your home and bed clean
* Use protective covers for your mattress to protect from dust mites (animals that live in your bed)

If you need furter advice, feel free to call for an appointment.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Flu Season #7 -National Influenza Vaccination Week

National Influenza Vaccination Week December 6-12 2009

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced the week of December 6-12, 2009, as National Influenza Vaccination Week. This event is designed to highlight the importance of continuing influenza (flu) vaccination, as well as foster greater use of flu vaccine through the months of December, January and beyond.

If you haven't gotten vaccinated yet, this is the perfect time!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

What- I'm Allergic to Bread??

My sister just finished watching an episode of House, and emailed me asking me what the disease was where you are allergic to bread. This is a common misunderstanding of a disease called Celiac Disease.

We don't know what causes ceiliac disease, but the body forms a protein called an immunoglobulin (Ig) against gluten (a protein found in bread and many, many other foods). In individuals with Celiac disease, when they eat gluten products they have inflammation and irritation in the intestinal tract.

This leads to common symptoms of:
* bloating,
* diarrhea,
* anemia,
* abdominal pain, and
* failure to gain weight.

Luckily, these symptoms can be prevented by avoiding gluten- easier said then done!

I just received an email about a wonderful website called My Gluten Facts www.theglutensolution.com/beta for patients with Celiac Disease. This website is fantastic- easy to use, filled with information about many products that comes directly from the manufacture, and gluten free recipes. I couldn't resist sharing with you and hope it helps my patients with Celiac disease.

Another good source for information is the Celiac Disease Foundation www.celiac.org

Specifically in NYC, this is a great website of resturants that offer gluten free alternatives

I hope you find these websites usesful.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Egg Free Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies

Cranberry anything this time of year just screams holiday fun. Whip up these easy cookies to get even the biggest scroog in the mood.

Oatmeal Applesauce Cranberry Cookies
(Egg Free)

1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. sugar
2 c. rolled oats (quick cooking)
2 c. all purpose flour
1 1/4 c. unsweetened applesauce
1 c. dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Grease baking sheet.
Mix flour, baking powder, allspice, and salt. Beat butter and sugar until creamy. Add dry ingredients. Stir in oats, applesauce, and cranberries. Mix well. Drop by level tablespoonfuls onto baking sheet.
Bake 11 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.
Cool on rack. Makes 5 dozen.

Is the Season To Be Green....

Walking to work this morning the air was filled with fresh holiday pine, and spruce. All of the Christmas Tree Vendors are in full swing providing beautiful fresh decorations for your homes.

This reminded me of a common problem question that comes up this time of the year. Can you be allergic to your Christmas Tree?

Yes! About 6% of people are allergic to their tree.

You might think you are allergic to the pine pollen that the tree produces, but this isn't released until the spring. Mold spores are actually the culprit in Christmas tree allergy. The bark and sap of the tree captures many different types of mold. Studies of homes with trees show 5 x the levels of mold spores in them than homes without live trees. Additionally, the ornaments and decorations on the tree often get musty and dusty, contributing to the allergic response.

You probably are having an allergic reaction if you start to have increased symtpoms of sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, cough, or chest tightness after bringing your tree home.

Don't despair, you don't have to live without a live tree this season. There are antedotal reports of relief coming from washing the tree (this option would be difficult in NYC!) with a hose. Using a HEPA air purifier or taking an allergy pill daily while the tree is in the home might help. But I recommend if your symptoms are bad, you should see your doctor for specific advice.

If you have a suggestion please write in and let me know.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

World Aids Day- December 1, 2009

Today is World Aid's Day. You may not realize it, but some Allergist/Immunologist take care of patients with HIV/AID's (Human Immunodeficiency/Aquired Immunodeficiency). In fact, they along with their Infectious Disease colleagues, were some of the pioneers in describing and studying the HIV virus.

We've come a long way from the first diagnosis of HIV is this country in March 1981, but we still have a long way to go. As world we've made great strides against the virus, and with medication, HIV is not a fatal illness anymore. Ground breaking proof of concepts advances were made this year on a potential HIV vaccine.

But we are not there yet. Last year, there were still over 7800 NEW diagnosis of HIV in this country. As New Yorkers, we live in one of the epicenters of disease in the world.

* There are over 33 million persons living with HIV/AIDS in the world.
* In the March 2009, our nations capital, Washington D.C. had 3 our of every 10 (yes, you read that right) persons infected with HIV! This is at the same level as Subsahara Africa.
* HIV is hurting our young populuation. It is the 3rd leading cause of death amongst persons less than 65 years old.
* One of the fastest group of new diagnosis in this country are Hispanics and Latinos young adults.
* In NYC, 80% of new diagnosis of HIV are among African Americans and Hispanics.
* In NYC, we have over 100,000 persons living with HIV.

We must act together to improve these statistics!

So on this World Aids Day, I challenge you today to get tested, do something to educate yourself , your community, your world, help prevent the spread of HIV/AIDs, or reach out to someone with HIV who might feel alone.

Wear a condom. Insist he wears a condom. Repeat. Contact www.nyc.gov for free condoms.

Get tested. Encourage a loved one to get tested. Knowing is power! Below is a listing of all confidential testing centers, or talk to your doctor. http://www.mnn.org/aidsat25/testing

Want more information?

Below are some local agencys where you can get more information, or reach out to make a difference in your community

* HIV Care Network Jose Martin Garcia Orduna, Network Coordinator Union Settlement Association, Inc.158 E. 115th Street, 2nd Floor New York, NY 10029 Phone: (212) 828-6143

* The Peter Krueger Center for Immunological Disorders http://www.wehealny.org/services/BI_Aidsservices/KruegerCenter.html http://www.wehealny.org/services/BI_Aidsservices/donate.html

* St. Vincent's Medical Center- West Village NY, NY

* Center for Brooklyn Study
*HIV Care Network

Gail Greenridge, Network CoordinatorNYC
HHC Kings County Hospital Center451 Clarkson Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11203
Phone: (718) 245-2821

Bedford Stuyvesant/Crown Heights
Eve Ammons-Johnson, Network Coordinator
Church Avenue Merchants Block Association
19 Winthrop Street
Brooklyn , NY 11225
Phone: (718) 462-8654 ext. 322

With your help, I hope that 2010 statitics are better for all of us.

It's Cold Out There....

Good morning to all my asthma sufferer's! Whoo, it's really brisk in NYC this morning. It's the perfect weather to trigger an asthma attack.

What are the symptoms you might feel?
* Chest tightness
* Cough
* Difficulty catching your breath
* Easy fatigue when you excercise

Here are a few tips to help you prevent or control an attack.

* Make sure you use your medication correctly and as perscribed

* Make sure all your medications haven't expired

* Use a scarf to cover your nose and mouth. This will help the air warm up before you breathe, helping to prevent an asthma attack

* Carry your rescue inhaler with you (albuterol etc)

* Use a spacer if you have one to deliver your medication

Good luck, stay warm, and as always, let me know if I can be of asssistance.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving- remember the extra serving of exercise!

What a great time of the year! Everyone's kitchens are filled with wonderful smells, delicious treats and best of all, the people they love the most.

It's the perfect time to over induldge in everything and it's so difficult to resist. The average American puts on about 2 lbs over the next few weeks! Over time, this can really add up.

Did you know that being overweight puts you and your family at risk for developing allergies, in particular asthma?! I know it's hard to imagine, but all those fat cells produce signals that tell your body to become more allergic.

Don't despair though, you can fight this! "How?", you ask. By regularly walking. As little as twenty minutes a day helps keep your body healthy and you maintain a healthy weight. If you can do more, I say go for it! Why not start a new tradition- sign up for your local Turkey Trot, take a walk before and after dinner, or go out for a family football game.

It doesn't matter what or how long you exercise for, as long as it's something!
Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Seasonal Flu #6- Signs and Symptoms

Flu Season is now in full swing in New York. The CDC is reporting about 5% of all visits to doctors in the NY and NJ area are for symptoms consitent with an influenza like illness

What should you look for to suspect that you might have the Flu?

- Fever
- Fatigue
- Muscle aches
- Cough
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Headache
- Chills

Stay at home in bed and get better!

Season Flu # 5- Prevention Is Key

Noone likes to be sick, especially with the flu virus.

Many of my patients ask me, "Doc, is there any way I can prevent getting sick this season?"

These are the tips I give them.

1) Get vaccinated
2) Wash your hands frequently
3) Cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough
4) Don't touch your eyes, nose or mouth without washing your hands.
4) If you feel sick, stay at home, get plenty of sleep and rest, and drink fluids.

Flu Season #4- H1N1

H1N1, H1N1, H1N1- it seems like that is all we see in the news these days!

As of today, 1,028,000 doses of the vaccine have been shipped out to New York State.

There has been a ton of controversy and misinformation about the safety of this vaccine, whether it's necessary and how many shots you need to be protected.

The vaccine is safe. Repeat. The vaccine is safe. The H1N1 vaccine is the same flu vaccine we've been using each year, just named for the specific virus that is circulating.

Who Should Be Vaccinated?
This is taken directly from the CDC website:

1) Pregnant women because they are at higher risk of complications and can potentially provide protection to infants who cannot be vaccinated;

2) Household contacts and caregivers for children younger than 6 months of age

3) Healthcare and emergency medical services
* we need you to be healthy to help care for those who are sick!
* we need you to not spread the virus to those who might be more susceptible to illness

4) All people from 6 months through 24 years of age

5) Young adults 19 through 24 and

6) Persons aged 25 through 64 years who have health conditions associated with higher risk of medical complications from influenza.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Here is a delicious recipe for Pumpkin Pie, perfect for any food allergy free Thanksgiving feast. It's free of Milk, Egg, Peanuts, Soy and Nuts. Wheat is optional.

Remember, take a walk after dinner to burn off some of those extra delicious calories you are going to eat! Enjoy!

Pumpkin Pie

M, E, P, S, N, optional W

2 cups canned pumpkin
3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1-1/2 cups water
6-1/2 T cornstarch
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ginger
pie crust*
1/4 cup brown sugar (optional)
1/4 cup coconut (optional)

Preheat oven to 375° F. In medium saucepan, combine all ingredients but brown sugar and coconut. Cook over medium heat until mixture begins to thicken, stirring constantly. Pour into pie crust. Bake for 30 minutes or until firm. If desired, sprinkle coconut and brown sugar on top. Bake 5 more minutes.

*To make this recipe wheat-free, use your favorite wheat-free pie crust recipe.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Dinners On- A Savory Supper!

This is a savory fabulous easy recipe that is Milk, Egg, Wheat, Peanut, Soy and Nut free sure to make for a delicious dinner.

Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Apples and Sweet Potatoes
M, E, W, P, S, N

1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1/4 tsp. pepper
3-1/2 cups sweet potato, peeled and cubed
4 tsp. olive oil, divided
2 12 oz. pork tenderloins
3 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and cut into wedges

Preheat oven to 500° F. Coat 15x10-inch jelly roll pan with cooking spray. Set aside. In small bowl, combine salt, cinnamon, cardamom and pepper. Set aside. In large bowl, combine sweet potato, 1 tsp. spice mixture, and 3 tsp. oil; toss well. Set aside. Trim fat from pork and rub remaining spice mixture over meat. Drizzle remaining oil over pork. In a single layer in pan, arrange sweet potatoes. Bake 10 minutes. Add apples and pork; bake 10 minutes. Turn sweet potatoes, apples, and pork and bake an additional 10 minutes. Turn once more and bake 10 minutes.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Recipes for Food Allergic Patients

I know the holiday season is especially difficult for my food allergic patients. There are so many goodies lying around, none labeled, and all potentially with hidden food ingredients. So for the next few months, I'll be posting 1-2 milk, egg, peanut and nut free recipes a week for you to enjoy.

I thought it might be helpful to you to post some delicious recipes so you can bake your own goodies to share with family and friends alike. I'm sure they will come calling for more!

Please feel free to post some of your favorite recipes as well. I hope you enjoy!

Happy Fall to My Food Allergic Patients!

Yummm, I love pumpkin anything, especially pumpkin cookies. This recipe looked to good not to share with my milk, egg, peanut, soy and nut allergic patients.
Feel free to modify based on your allergies. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Cookies
M, E, P, S, N

3 cups flour
1 T pumpkin pie spice
1 T ground ginger
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups sugar
1 cup milk-free, soy-free margarine, softened
1 cup canned pumpkin
1-1/2 T oil
1-1/2 T water
1 tsp. baking powder

M, E, W, P, S, N

5 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 cup milk-free, soy-free margarine, softened
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup water
orange food coloring
green food coloring

Grease cookie sheet. In small bowl, mix oil, water and baking powder. Set aside. In medium bowl, combine flour, pumpkin pie spice, ginger and salt. Set aside. In large bowl, cream sugar and margarine until light and fluffy. Add pumpkin and oil mixture. Mix well. Combine with dry ingredients and mix well. Cover. Chill in refrigerator until dough is firm.

Preheat oven to 350° F. Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls onto a cookie sheet. Flatten slightly. Create a "stem" with dough and press into top of cookie. Bake 16 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool on wire racks.

To make frosting, beat all ingredients on medium speed until smooth and spreadable. If necessary, add extra water, 1 teaspoon at a time. Divide frosting into two bowls. Add orange food coloring to one bowl; green food coloring to other.

Frost cooled cookies.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Flu Season 3

Over the past few weeks, I've been talking about the flu and the vaccine. Here are some common questions that I've been asked. If I don't answer your question, please let me know or make an appointment to discuss further.

5) Does the flu vaccine cause the flu?
- NO, NO, NO
- This is a common misbelief. You can develop the flu after getting vaccinated if you've recently been exposed to the virus (you would've developed regardless of vaccination).
- The vaccine takes a few weeks for your body to develop immunity.
- After being vaccinated, you may experience a mild fever, muscle ache at the site of injection or malaise. This is your body developing immunity to the virus.

6) Are there any risks to being vaccinated? What about Guillian Barre?
- Systemic anaphylactic reacations the flu vaccine are rare. If you are allergic to eggs, you should discuss with your health care provider as above.

-Guillain-Barré syndrome, is a disease characterized by fever, nerve damage and ascending muscle weakness.
- There is controversy over wheter or not the flu vaccine is associated with developing GBS & normally, about one person per 100,000 people per year will develop GBS.an illness characterized by fever, nerve damage, and muscle weakness.
-In 1976, vaccination with the swine flu vaccine was associated with getting GBS.
-Several studies have been done to evaluate if other flu vaccines since 1976 were associated with GBS. Only one of the studies showed an association. That study suggested that one person out of 1 million vaccinated persons may be at risk of GBS associated with the vaccine. Thats compared to 1.6 out of 10,000 people dying from the flu.

Bottom line, it's safe to be vaccinated and it may save your life!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Flu Season 2

Every Friday for the next few weeks we'll be talking about the flu vaccine. If I don't answer your question, please let me know or make an appointment to discuss further.

3) What do I do if I am allergic to eggs?
- Many of you know that the vaccine is grown on ovaloalbumin, making it a potential source of egg allergen.
- People with allergy to egg, may be at risk of having an allergic reaction and should consult a specialist, for testing and administration.

4) What do I do if I have sensitivity to thimerosal, a preservative commonly found in the flu vaccine?
- There are 3 ways to get vaccinated for the flu virus: 1) A multi dose vial (killed virus), 2) A single dose vial (killed virus), & 3) an nasal spray (live weakened virus, that is not able to cause the flu).
- If you have sensitivity to thimerosal, you should discuss with your provider.
- Both the single dosed & the nasal vaccination contain NO thimerosal.
- Patients who have immune problems or who are pregnant should NOT receive any vaccination with a live attenuated virus (the nasal spray).

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Flu Season #1

Flu season is upon us and there is much discussion and concern regarding the flu vaccine, and the new H1N1 vaccine. I thought for the next few weeks, I'll talk about a question or two that you might have regarding the vaccine. If I don't answer your question, please email me or make an appointment and we can talk further about it.

1) What is the risk of dying from the flu vaccine?
-Each year about 30,000 to 50,000 persons die as a result of influenza viral infection! That's about 1.6 people out of every 10,000.
- 147 pediatric deaths have been reported so far in 2009!

2) Who should get vaccinated?
- Children aged 6 months up to their 19th birthday
- Pregnant women
- People 50 years of age and older
- People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions, including ASTHMA, COPD or EMPHYSEMA
- People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
- People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including: Health care workers
- Household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu
- Household contacts and out of home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age (these children are too young to be vaccinated)

Bottom line, there are many ways to safely be vaccinated!

If you'd like to talk further about this, you can call me for an appointment- 718-384-6933.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Good News- Pollen Counts for the Week

Looks like it'll be pretty light on the ragweed pollen this week!

Allergies & Athletes

Many of you may be preparing for the NYC ING Marathon, or starting your fall soccer season and so I thought it might be a good time to talk about allergies and athletes.
Most symptoms are provoked by the cold air and mold spores and ragweed pollen tends not to be such a huge factor in the autumn.

Allergies, like asthma and hay fever, can be particularly bothersome for athletes because they get in the way of performing your best. What can you do though? Avoiding the outdoors and excercise isn't an option for most atheletes.

Well here are a few tips to help keep your symtpoms at bay:
* Take your asthma medication at least 30 minutes prior to excercising. This will especially help with those of you who develop cough from cold air.

* Use intranasal corticosteroids on a regular basis, they take at least 24 hours to start working, to prevent you from getting a runny nose.

* Avoid excercising outside when the pollen counts are the highest- early morning between 5AM and 10 AM.

* If you are particularly sensitive to the pollens this time of year, visit your allergist for the most specific advice possible.

I'd be happy to help get you in tip top shape for your next race or game!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Pollen Counts for the Week

Predominant Pollen: Ragweed and Chenopods.

Courtesy of the Makers of Zyrtec

Shouldn't be such a bad week for those of you with pollen allergys. The begining of the week will be a little worse with the pollen counts for Ragweed and Chenopods in the Low-Medium Range and then tapering to the Low Range by Thursday.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


One of my favorite things about Fall is it's the last opportunity to go hiking. The city is filled with tourists enjoying the proverbial NY in the Fall, and I get to escape to the mountains for one last hike. The trees are in their utmost glory and the air is always crisp. One thing I don't like about hiking is the potential of poison ivy. It definitely makes you itch & scratchy.

Did you know that not everyone has a problem with poison ivy though? Most of us do though, & experts estimate that 3 out of 4 people will react. It's actually a type of allergy to a chemical called uroshiol. Uroshiol is an oil found on the leaves of poison ivy, poison sumac, & poison oak. Now, this is a different type of allergy than one that makes you sneeze or cough, it is called a contact allergy. It takes place typically about 2 days after you encounter it and can cause problems for people who are allergic to it. The symptoms can last for anywhere between 5-12 days!

A common myth about uroshiol allergy is that it's contagious- it's not. After you develop the allergy, most of the uroshiol oil (if you bath on a regular basis) on your skin has typically been washed off & you are left with only the allergic reaction.

Want to know an interesting factoid? People allergic to uroshiol will also have problems peeling the skin of a mango because they cross-react! They'll also have problems with ginko fruit & chest nuts. Luckily, you shouldn't have any problems eating the mango if you can find a friend to peel it for though.

Wishing you beautiful poison ivy free hiking, delicious mangos & spectacular views!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Breaking News!

Breaking News!! It's fitting that today, the first day of my blog, that ALK-Abell√≥ Inc. and AllerQuest announced the return of PRE-PEN® after full FDA approval September 19, 2009! Now, What is Pre-Pen you ask? You'll have to turn in next week to find out, but I'll give you a clue....stay tuned for more information about drug allergies.

Common Myth # 1

What is one common myth I often hear about allergies? I never had allergies before, therefore I can't have them now.

Not true, ANY ONE can develop allergies at any point in their life.As we age, our bodies and immune system changes. Some people become more allergic while others less so.
You may have had allergies as a young child that you "grew out of". However, they can return as you get older.

Some people are more likely to develop allergies than others. For example, there is evidence that allergies are genetic, so if you parents are allergic, you are more likely to develop allergies.

Exposure to different viruses can change the way you immune works and reacts to allergens, making you more allergic. The best example of this is in young children who are hospitilized with the common cold virus, Rhinovirus. They are 10 X more likely to develop asthma than a child without hospitilization!

Allergies 101

Many of you may not know what allergies or your immune system is. Others think that the symptoms like cough, itchy, watery eyes, hives, runny nose, sneezing, diarrhea, or rash or normal- they are not. For example, my Mom, one of the brightest sweetest people you'll ever meet, sneezes all the time. She thinks that's just who she is, but she actually has allergies.

So what are allergies? Your immune system is your bodies way of fighting off infections. However, in some people, for unknown reasons, their body mounts a response to items (allergens) in the environment that aren't harmful. Some common allergens are:

* pets
* pollen
* dust mite,
* medications,
* but really just about anything can cause an allergic reaction.

When your body mounts a response to allergens, it sets off a chain reaction in your body, much like when you are sick. Depending on where the body reacts, skin, nose, eyes, lungs, you can develop various symptoms. For example, when Pepper, a recently groomed Irish Setter, licks your hand and it starts itching, thats probably an allergy. Or when you wake up sneezing every morning after sleeping on your plush down pillows, thats probably an allergy. Or you notice, after a thunderstorm, you have an asthma exacerbation, that's probably an allergy. We'll talk more about each of these things as we go foreword.

If you think you have an allergy, but you're sure, I hope you'll post below so we can learn from it.


Welcome! This is the first day of my blog and I am very excited. My name is Dr. Jennifer Collins and I am an Allergist/Immunologist. I treat children and adults who have allergic and immunologic disorders. I've recently opened up two practices with New York Eye and Ear Infirmary - one on 308 2nd Avenue @ 22nd Street (call 212-979-4200)in Manhattan and the other at 101 Broadway in Williamsburg (call 718-384- 6933). If you'd like to set up an appointment with me, I'm more than happy to see you- you can call 718-384-6933 for the Williamsburg office or 212-972-4200 for the 308 2nd Ave @ 22nd Street office. The office staff is super friendly and will be more than willing to help you!

I'm starting this blog to educate people in my community about allergies and some common myths associated with them. I welcome and encourage feedback!

Rules of Engagement:

1) Each week I'll write a short article about a topic in allergy/immunology that I hope you'll find interesting.

2) I'll post links to interesting articles that other people in the health field have written & I think you'll find educational.

3) Please comment and let me know questions you have.

4) Is there a topic you'd like more information on, let me know and I'll write about it!

5) For legal and liability reasons, I WON'T provide any medical advice on this blog. If you'd like to set up an appointment with me, I'm more than happy to see you- you can call 718-384-6933 for the Williamsburg office or 212-972-4200 for the 308 2nd Ave @ 22nd Street office. The office staff is super friendly and will be more than willing to help you!

Okay, lets get started....