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....