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

Friday, November 7, 2014

What's New in Skin Allergies? D-Day for Skin Deep Allergies

Being itchy and scratchy all over is one of the worst things to experience.  Symptoms interfere with sleep, work, and your life.  Scratching can leave your skin scarred and damaged.   Many of my patients come to me with difficult to treat rashes.  They've gone from doctor to doctor and treated with topical steroids without anyone finding the cause of the itch.

 Did you know on an average day we are exposed to over 128 chemical in our personal care items (shampoo, cosmetics, deodorants, etc)?  These rashes are called allergic contact dermatitis.  Over 14.5 million people have chemical allergy & many of these are children!  I love trying to find the cause of why my patients are itching- it is one of my favorite puzzles to solve.   Anyone who's read my blog in the past knows I often write about these allergies- shellac allergy, formaldehyde resin allergy, and; methyldibromo glutaronitrile

Chemicals like preservatives and additives in our products trigger difficult to treat rashes like lip, eye lid, and foot rash.   I do extensive chemical & environmental allergy testing in my office in the hopes of identifying the trigger for the itch.  This is a huge win in any of my patients care.  Avoidance of the offending chemicals can lead to complete resolution of the rash- without medications.  Common chemicals that cause contact dermatitis include fragrance, cocamidopropyl, formaldehyde, nickel and so many more.  

Today, I attended D-Day for Skin Deep Allergies and Patch Testing a full day conference put on by the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology in Atlanta, Georgia.  The room was filled with over 100 other Allergists/Immunologist just as excited as I am about finding the cause of a rash.  
I'm spending the entire weekend in Atlanta at the College's meeting and will bring my expanded knowledge base back to New York to help my patients.  
  • Why do my lips itch?
  • What's the cause of my foot rash?
  • How much nickel can I eat if I'm nickel allergic?
  • What's the cause of eye lid rashes?
  • Why am I itchy all over?  
Stay tuned- I'll be writing more on these and other topics I learn at the American College of Allergy Asthma, and Immunology's 2014 conference!

Need help with a difficult to treat rash?  Suspect you have contact dermatitis?  Call the office 212-679-3574 or click Gramercy Allergy & Asthma to schedule an appointment.

Monday, November 3, 2014

How to Prevent Colds this Winter....

This time of the year temperatures are all over the place.  The drop in temperature also brings out activities of cold virus.  Colds cause for significant disruption to our lives, work, and social interactions.

Everyone's goal during cough and cold season is to keep healthy. As an immunologist, I'm often asked about natural ways to prevent viruses from taking hold and to reduce the time of a cold.

Here are my 5 top tips.  I hope they keep you cold free this year!
1) Wash your hands! 
  • You've heard it before and you'll hear it again.  Frequent hand washing is the number one way you can prevent colds.  Your hands bring germs and viruses to your nose, mouth and eyes where they gain entry and cause illness. Keeping your hands germ free will help keep you germ free.  Wash or use portable hand disinfectants after riding the subways, before eating, after shaking hands, or anything you think of it.  Aim for 20 seconds at least with warm soapy water. 
2) Eat a rainbow of foods each day!
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, seed and lean proteins will ensure you are getting enough essential vitamins and nutrients to keep your immune system working at maximum potential!   Critical vitamins involved in the immune reaction are Vitamin A (think anything orange like pumpkin and squash), Vitamin C (oranges and grapefruits), Vitamin D (the sun!),  Vitamin E  (nuts and sunflower seeds) and Zinc (oysters & chickpeas). Vitamins, anti-oxidants and bacteria are natural ways to maintain this balance. 

3)  Keep your fluids up!
  • Water helps keep your skin and outer mucosal functioning at it's best.  These surfaces are the first line defense against germs and viruses. 
  • Shoot for 4-5 8 ounces of water per day.  Live in a dry apartment?  Drink at least an 1-2 glasses more.
4) Maintain regular exercise and sleep program!
  • Did you know that regular exercise helps boost the activity of critical immune cells in fighting off germs and viruses? 
  • Even if you're getting sick low intensity exercise will reduce the time of the illness.
  • Sleep is when your body repairs and rejuvenates itself.  As we enter the holiday season, increased parties and plans often infringe on our time for sleep, but shoot for 7-8 hours a night to keep your body in it's best form. 
5) Disinfect Germ Magnets!
  • The phone- Your home, office and personal phone are way stations for viruses.  They can survive on them for a few hours to days.
  • Remote controls- touched by everyone in the family, but least cleaned.  During cold season, try and wipe off at least once a day.
  • Keep boards and computers- we sit at them for hours a day sneezing and breathing on them.  Make sure to wipe them off several times a week to keep yourself healthy
  • The bathroom- yuck...faucets and door knobs are touched by everyone in the house and office.  This is the perfect place to pick up viruses.  Make sure faucets and knobs are getting disinfected frequently.   
Hopefully these tips will keep you cold free this season!

Need more personalized care?  Call the office or  schedule an appointment here.