Monday, February 17, 2014

What Should You Know About Over the Counter Nasal Steriods?

The next time you’re at the local pharmacy, you may be surprised to see your prescribed allergy nasal spray available over-the-counter. Many drug manufacturers are pushing for this move to make finding relief easier for some of the 50 million Americans with allergies. But this warrants caution for some. 

Before you use these over the counter medication, what should you know about over the counter nasal steroids? 

1) Is it safe? Not only can the new nasal allergy spray relieve congestion, sneezing and a runny nose, it also does not cause drowsiness and is non-habit forming.  Improper use of nasal sprays may cause nasal bleeding and in worse case scenario a hole in your nose.   Follow the package instructions and inform your allergist if bleeding and/or irritation occurs.

2) If I'm controlled with this nasal spray, why should I still see an Allergist?  
  • Allergies and asthma are serious diseases and self medicating may not be the best way of controlling your symptoms. 
  • Getting testing for allergies and instituting environmental controls are powerful ways to prevent allergies without using medication.  An allergist is the best person to advise you on this.  Many allergy sufferers that have year-round allergies to pets, dust and mold often find nasal sprays are not enough for symptom relief. Many allergists prescribe immunotherapy (also known as allergy shots), which not only provides symptom relief, but can modify and prevent disease progression.
  • Asthma is a disease commonly found in people with allergies in their nose.  An allergist can screen you for this. 
3) Can I stop antihistamines? If you find solely using the nasal allergy spray is helping to suppress your symptoms, you may not need to take an antihistamine. Each person is different and they will have to be the judge of how they feel only using one medication. However, if you’re not finding relief from one or both medications, you should speak with your allergist.

4) Is it safe to give my child?
The medication is approved for children two-years and older. But it may complicate some infections your child might have, so check with your allergist.

5) Can it be used year-round?
Yes, it is approved for year-round use.  As with any over the counter medication, you should speak with your doctor about long term use.

6) Will my insurance cover it?
It is unlikely your insurance provider will cover over-the-counter nasal allergy sprays, even if it was covered when it was prescribed.

7) Do I need to continue following up with my allergist?
Allergy sprays are a band aid approach to allergies and only control symptoms.  They do not a cure for allergy. Because allergies can change over time, it’s important to be under the care of an allergist for proper testing, diagnosis and treatment that may go beyond over-the-counter medications. Allergies can also cause symptoms such as chronic sinus infections, nasal congestion or difficulty breathing.

Need more help controlling your allergies?  Please call 212-679-3574 or click here to schedule an appointment online. 



Tuesday, February 11, 2014

How to Celebrate Valentine's Day with Allergies?

Valentine's day can be an especially difficult time for persons with allergic disease.  Most consider only food allergies as a problem, but uncontrolled asthma, latex allergy, allergic skin, or allergic sinusitis symptoms can impact your ability to feel romantic with your partner. 

What should you do if you suffer from allergies around Valentine's Day?  Here are some simple tips to keep you giving and receiving the love that abounds this time of the year.

Love someone with food allergies?
  • Make homemade treats for your sweetie so you'll be sure not to include ingredient. 
  • Too busy to bake?  Divvies is a wonderful company launched by a mom with children with food allergies.  The idea is to have snacks persons with food allergies can share with others. Premium Chocolatiers, Amandas Own and Vermont Nut Free are other options to order allergy free chocolates.
  • Making reservations for a date night out?  Notify the restaurant before you go of any allergies you or your loved one  have to prevent an accidental exposure.  Here's a list of allergy friendly restaurants in NYC.
  • Want to give a good night kiss?  Many food allergies are transferred in saliva.  If your dating someone with food allergies, it's smart to watch what you've eaten as well. 
Want to send flowers? 
  • Pollen from flowers is a common cause of allergic asthma. 
  • What are the best flowers to send those with allergies? Orchids, begonia, cactus, clematis, columbine, crocus, daffodil and geraniums are terrific options.
  • Use caution with flowers like lilies, chamomile, chrysanthemums, daisies, goldenrod and ordinary sunflowers are among the worst. They have strong pollens that can often cause a severe allergic reaction.
Ordering up a Massage?
  • Use caution with new creams and oils.  Many suffer from allergies in their skin and new contact exposures can trigger an out break.
  • Beware many organic products contain nut oils.  These can trigger a reaction.
Want to be Very Intimate?
  • Latex allergy with condoms can cause severe irritation during sex.  I've had patients with latex allergy who ended up in the emergency room after a night of passion because of latex allergy. 
  • If you're loved one is latex allergic make sure to use latex free condoms and other latex free products.
  • Visit Latex Allergy Resources for more specific advice.
Follow this simple advice to keep the focus on the love rather than the allergy this upcoming Valentine's Day.

Need more specific advice?  Contact me in my office at 212-679-3574 
or on line schedule appointment.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Why Test For Allergy?

It's hard to believe that the spring is just around the corner with temperatures here in NYC still in the 20's and ice covering the sidewalks, but soon trees and flowers will be blooming.  And, with their blooms, will come spring time allergies. 

  • Did you know that 1 out of 3 people are allergic? 
    • Allergies often cause social embarrassment, missed days of school and/or work, and can leave you feeling like you have a cold that won't go away.
    • Don't suffer without knowing that allergies are the cause.
  • Avoid Being Treated with Antibiotics When it's Actually an Allergy. 
    • Allergies are often mistaken for a cold and/or sinus infection and treated with antibiotics.   Minimizing your exposure to antibiotics is important because of increasing rates of bacterial resistance.
    • Antibiotics won't help symptoms associated with allergies.  You need the right type of medication.  An allergist/immunologist will give you personalized guidance on avoidance measures.
  • Know Your Allergic Triggers- Get Tested
    • Most people in the U.S. are allergic to more than one allergen.
    • Knowing a full composite of what your allergic to, can aid in helping you to use avoidance measures rather than just medications.
    • Testing for allergies is a painless test that's done through skin prick testing.
  • Allergies Change Over Time
    • Many people ask me how they can develop allergies when they never suffered before.  Allergies can develop and change at any point in your life.  New sensitizations can pop up and if you're lucky resolve.
    • Being testing on an interval basis will help you keep up to date with what you are sensitized to so you can have a direct approach.
  • Not All Allergy Runs in Families
    • While many people with allergic disease will have a family history of disease, you may be the only one with symptoms.
    • While they may not understand, I do....
Don't be left out of enjoying spring because your nose is running, the end of winter is the perfect time to get checked for allergies and make sure you have medications to treat your symptoms.  Get tested before the ice melts and temperatures melt so you can enjoy spring to it's fullest.

Want help or more information on testing for allergies?  Contact the office at 212-6793574 , Gramercy Allergy & Asthma, 205 East 22nd Street, NY NY 10010 or visit our website www.gramercyallergy.com