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.