Thursday, November 16, 2017

Food Allergies and the Holidays: Tips for being a guest this holiday season.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays- it marks the start of a holiday season of many communal feasts.  For the 15 million Americans who suffer from food allergies, it can mark the start of a stressful period.  All those dishes with potentially hidden food ingredients.

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 during the holidays:

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

You can follow us on facebook and @gramercyallergy for more specific advice.  

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

5 Fast Facts About Fall Asthma, Allergies and Eczema

Changing fall leaves and rapidly changing temperatures, make most people forget about fall allergies and potential triggers of allergies eczema and asthma.  Here are 5 fast facts to keep in mind this fall to keep your allergies and asthma under control.

1) Mold and Ragweed pollens are triggers of Fall asthma. 
  • Decaying leaves, high humidity levels  increased rain and warmer temperatures keep mold spores and pollen levels higher for longer periods of time.
  • Get tested so you know what your potential triggers are, which fall weeds you might be sensitive to and learn about mold spores.
  • Following pollen counts before you head out doors to enjoy the sceneary may help prevent an asthma attack.
2) Loving the Indian Summer?   This keeps pollen and mold spore levels higher for longer periods of time.

  • Fall plants and pollen producers pollinate starting in mid August.  Levels can remain high until the first frost.  
  • Pollen on the ground is blown up on windy days creating a burst of pollen and mold spores in the air that can trigger asthmatic symptoms. 
3) Love the fall colors, hay rides, and trips for apple picking?  These activities are prime for exposure to mold spores.

  • Most fall time mold comes from decaying plant life including leaves, and fruits.  Wet hay is the perfect place for mold to grow.
  • Make sure you use your inhaler or bring with you the next time your heading out for these classic fall time actvivities
4) Feeling a bit more winded from running outside? Fall is a great time to start a running program but can trigger exercise induced asthma.

  • Rapid changes in temperature and humidity are the perfect triggers for exercise induced asthma
  • Symptoms include mild shortness of breath, chest tightness, and a cough after running or exercising outdoors.
  • Persons with a history of childhood asthma are more likely to have symptoms brought on by exercise
  • See your allergist if you suspect you are having these symptoms for a check up.
5) Is your skin a bit more dry and itchy? October is National Eczema month for a reason.  Fall is a common trigger of eczema.
  • Eczema, an allergic skin condition, affects over 30 million Americans!
  • Dry skin triggered by changes in temperature and humidity levels can trigger eczema to flare. 
  • Increasing your skin care regimine with extra moisturization and help prevent a flare up.
  • Want more information about eczema- Check out the National Eczema website.

Gramercy Allergy hopes these tips help you enjoy the Fall!

Want more directed tips on allergies and travel?  Click here to schedule an appointment, or visit our www.gramercyallergy.com

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Monday, June 12, 2017

How to Travel Safely With Allergies!

Pack your bags and lets go- summer is finally in full swing!  High temperatures in NYC are driving people to the beach and other fun locations.  Kids have the count down on for when school is out.  

But for those with allergies, traveling can be stressful and difficult.  I've put together these easy tips that I hope will make your trip more focused on rest and relaxation and less about your allergies. Gramercy Allergy wishes you the BEST summer!

Have food allergies?

  • Do a quick search to see what restaurants in the area are friendly for those with allergies.
  • Have a travel anaphylaxis kit to carry in you carry on or purse include quick melt antihistamines and your injectable epinephrine.

Have mold and dust mite allergies?
  • Many rentals at the beach are havens for dust mites and mold. High humidity is the perfect environment for both these allergens to grow.
  • Speak with your allergist for a perfect plan to keep your eyes from itching and nose from being runny/congestion while on your trip.  No one wants to feel like they got the "perfect cold" on vacation.

                                Image result for beach house

Have asthma?
  • Bring an extra inhaler along with you in your bag.  You never know what kind of environmental triggers you'll be exposed to in your vacation home.
  • Check out common triggers/environmental exposures you might face in that location.  Weather.com can give you specific information about pollen and mold counts depending on where you are headed.
  • Ask your doctor to put together an emergency supply of medicine that you can bring with you in case you get sick- this will help keep you out of an unfamiliar emergency room.

Have skin allergies?
  • Bring travel size versions of your favorite sunscreens, moisturizers, shampoos/conditioners.  Most manufactures make 3 oz versions that are perfect to keep in your travel bag.  Look for Pure and Free in the name.  This typically means a mineral based sunscreen.  Neutrogena makes a great on just for faces.  
  • Ask your doctor for a small tube of a corticosteroid to carry with you just in case; no one wants to be itchy and scratchy while on vacation

Going somewhere where they speak another language?
  • If you have food allergies  translate your food allergy before you go.  It might help to put this on a card and carry it with you to make sure there's no confusion.  Look for pictures of the foods- don't assume that the person you are talking to is able to read or will know what the food is.  
  • In many countries asthma and allergy medications are over the counter.  Translate your problem so you'll be able to effectively communicate with the pharmacist there.
                                      Related image

With these simple effective tips, your vacation will be filled with laughter, love, and beautiful memories rather than a trip the doctor

Want more directed tips on allergies and travel?  Click here to schedule an appointment, or visit our www.gramercyallergy.com

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Follow us @gramercy allergy.com 

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

How to Beat Springtime Eczema in NYC? #1in5


Sprintime eczema is one of the most common complaints coming into my office this time of the year.  Kids and adults alike are itchy and scratchy all over. High levels of tree pollen for many can trigger itchy skin changes.   Rapid changes in temperature and humidity that are classic for NYC can trigger an eczema flare leaving families feeling helpless, sleepy  and ITCHY.

Classic areas that eczema appears are the areas of elbows and behind knees.

What can you do to help get skin back under control and possibly even prevent an eczema flare this NYC summer?

    • Keeping skin well hydrated will help prevent an eczema flare
    • Stay hydrated with plenty of water (avoid juices and sugary beverages)
    • Bath daily in warm water and avoid strong soaps
    • Make sure skin is covered in a good moisturize when still wet
      • Pat dry leaving a layer of water on the skin that you can trap into the skin with a moisturizer
    • Have a plan to stop scratching.
    • Keep emollients like Vaseline, Crisco, Aquaphor of Vaniply in the refrigerator; the cool temperature applied directly to itchy inflamed skin will stop the itch.  Wrap inflamed areas in wet cool paper towels before applying emollients. 
    • Use topical steroids and oral anti-histamines if needed.
    • Your doctor may advise topical and/or oral antibiotics if skin becomes infected. 
    • Get into an oatmeal-Epsom salt bath
    • See an allergist to help you identify the cause and trigger of the eczema
    • Tree pollen can trigger eczema. 
    • Potential causes may be foods (milk, eggs, and nuts are the most common), lotions, sunscreens and detergents, and skin allergy to dust mite, summertime weeds, and animals.
    • Contact dermatitis (an allergy to chemicals in personal care products) is an often overlooked cause of eczema.  
    • Identifying other triggers can help you prevent future attacks.  Your doctor may recommend patch testing, a way to look for chemical allergy. 

Want to read more about eczema- Check out the National Eczema Foundation 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

What is Thunderstorm Induced Asthma? #1in5

Did you see the lightening storm in NYC this past week?  Wow- it was amazing! The sky was filled with an amazing display of electricity and air with loud claps of thunder.   I really enjoyed watching it, but also waited for the second wave you may not know about...

The day after a thunder/lightening storm there is a  10 fold increase in asthma admissions to the emergency department!  Many patients this week are complaining of worsening asthma symptoms and may not make the connection between the nighttime storm and their asthma.

What's going on?

Many would think that the rain would "clean the air" of pollen and pollutants knocking the irritants from the air to the ground, but this is not the case.  Why do thunderstorms trigger asthma?

We don't know...

Some possible hypotheses on why thunderstorms trigger asthma are:
  • Perhaps it's a device used by nature to pollinate when there's water available for things to grow.
  • Others hypothesize that pollen grains rupture with contact from rain drops.  The pollen gets picked up by the winds occupied by the storm spreading.
  • Fungal and mold spores increase the day after a storm along with pollen counts.
  • Tree pollen spikes after a storm. 

Regardless of the reason, if you suffer from thunderstorm induced asthma, be prepared with your medications so you don't end up in the emergency room!

Here are some tips to prevent thunderstorm induced asthma:
  • Stay indoors the day after a storm
  • Have your medications on hand, make sure they aren't expired.
  • Keep your windows closed the day after the storm
  • Follow your asthma action plan
Most of all- if you are having signs/symptoms of asthma see your doctor.  Sadly, each day 9 people die from asthma.

Pollen counts continue to be very high in NYC.  Get help for your asthma and allergies in NYC with Gramercy Allergy.  Need help getting your asthma under control this spring or what other tips?  See an allergist and find relief! Gramercy Allergy and Asthma is ready to help you get control of your asthma.

Want to set up an appointment with Dr. Jennifer Collins, MD at Gramercy Allergy and Asthma?  Click here  We are located at 205 East 22nd Street, NY NY 10010

Sunday, April 16, 2017

How Do Allergies Cause Headaches?

More sunshine, warmer weather and spring pollen bring about longer happier days and the anticipation of springtime fun.  But for the unlucky, pollens can often trigger many other unwanted feelings of poorly controlled allergy symptoms.

During the spring, many of my patients complain to me about headaches.  They feel pain and pressure across their foreheads, around their eyes, and in their cheeks.  Symptoms vary with the weather and are often worse after it rains or a drop in temperature.  For the unlucky, these symptoms may trigger a migraine headache and cause them to miss work or a social engagement.

How Do you Know if Allergies are Causing your Headaches? 

  • Do you feel pressure over your cheeks and forehead?  
  • This may correlate to your sinuses, hollow air spaces in your face.  Sinuses function to increase the area for exchange of air and mucous.  Sinuses produce mucous that can drain into your nose and into the back of your nose.
  • When this area becomes inflamed from allergies, it blocks the normal openings  preventing mucous to back up and cause pain.  
  • Is your nose stuffy?
  • Do you have an associated mucous dripping down the back of your throat?
  • Does only one of your sinuses hurt?
  • Do you have pain radiating to your teeth?
  • Are your headaches seasonal?  

What are Signs of Sinus Headaches Caused by Allergies?
  • Chronic pain and tenderness over the cheeks, forehead, and area between or behind the eyes.
  • Stuffy nose, sneezing, ear pain or pressure, ear fullness, or facial swelling
  • Loss of smell
  • Post nasal drip
  • Triggers of seasonal variation, for example, a headache you get every spring, fall, or with exposure to cleaning.
  • Have other diseases triggered by allergies like asthma, eczema, or allergies in your nose or eyes?  Allergic diseases tend to run together.  If you're an "allergic" person, then allergies in your sinuses might be triggering your allergies.
  • Suspect you're an allergic person, but aren't sure?  Take this easy quiz How Do I Know If I Have Allergies?
What Can you do If You Suspect Allergies are Causing Your Headaches?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then uncontrolled nasal allergies may be one of the triggers of your headaches.

Unsure, get tested to see if and what your are sensitive too.  Knowing your sensitivities can help you take medication preventively  before headaches are triggered.  
Airborn allergens such as pollen are an important trigger of allergic sinusitis.   These are often misdiagnosed as sinus infections, and the treatment can be drastically different.

How Can You Treat Sinus Headaches?
  • If you suffer from headaches, see your primary doctor for a complete evaluation.
  • Suspect you have headaches triggered by uncontrolled allergies?  See an allergist to get tested to identify potential allergic triggers.
  • An allergist will be able to help formulate a specific plan that will include:
    • avoidance measures, 
    • direct medications and 
    • possibly offer allergy shots (a way to desensitize you to your allergic triggers)
  • Want more information on headaches?  Learn more at Allergies and Headaches or The National Headache Foundation.
Have more specific questions for me?  Schedule an appointment here

Dr. Jennifer Collins  is double board certified in allergy and immunology and internal medicine.  She's provided medical care for over a decade in New York City.  Gramercy Allergy is New York City's Premier Allergy practice. Learn more about us at gramercyallergy.com

Or at @gramercyallergy.com

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Valentine's Day and Allergies: How to bring love back into your life!

Recently, I was out with a friend and she asked "Why did I go into allergy?"  I quickly answered,
"Because it brings love back into my patients lives."  She was a bit stunned by my answer and I had to explain.

When I ask my patients what brought them in, they often tell me they are tired of their allergies getting in the way of things they love doing.  They are motivated to find an answer and a solution to the problem so they can get back to doing the things they love.

Typically this time of the year, I write a blog post on how to avoid allergic triggers for your loved one with allergies.  Make sure those chocolates don't have nuts or use caution with products with fragrance I'll advise.

But this year, I wanted to think about Valentine's Day a bit differently.  Some don't have a lover to share the day.  Does that mean you have to deprive yourself of love of life and yourself?  I hope not!   I want to challenge you to think about the things you love but are avoiding because of your allergies.  This Valentine's day I'm hoping to empower you to bring love that you might be avoiding back into you life.

Few recognize the impact of uncontrolled allergies.  Poorly controlled allergies and asthma can prevent you from doing the things you love because of uncontrolled symptoms.  They cause social embarrassment.  How difficult is it to date when you have food allergies?   Poorly controlled asthma can make it difficult to run that race you've always dreamed of completing.   Do you limit your dating options to those without animals because your scared it will trigger a sneezing fit?  Do you dream of having a dog, but don't adopt one because it triggers your asthma?  Are you tired of not being able to wear makeup because it causes you an allergic reaction?  Are you dreading spring because of the migraines you know the pollen will trigger?   Are you embarrassed by your uncontrolled eczema?

Are you avoiding things that bring you love and happiness because of your allergies?  Use Valentines Day as a spring board to take back control of your life.  If any of this sounds familiar  schedule an appointment with Gramercy Allergy.

As an allergist and immunologist, some of my proudest achievements include helping patients with animal allergies go to vet school or get married to that person with a cat.  

Don't let your uncontrolled allergies prevent you from doing the things that bring you happiness and love.  

How can you take control?

1) Get tested by an allergist.  Knowing what you are allergic to is the first step in being aggressive with your allergies.
2) Work with your allergist to set up a plan of reasonable avoidance measures and use of the correct medications.  There are so many over the counter medications for allergies available.  Speak with a doctor before starting medications to make sure you are taking the correct ones.
3) Think about getting allergy shots.  This is a way of changing your immune system to create tolerance to the natural things that make you sick.  Allergy shots, or immunotherapy, has been around since the early 1900's and is a proven treatment for allergic disease.  It's one of the few disease modifying treatments available- AND IT WORKS! Patients often tell me that completing allergy shots is life changing.  

Beyond all, don't let your allergies get in the way of you living and loving your life to it's fullest.  Use Valentines Day to bring love into your life!

 Gramercy Allergy and Asthma is here to help.  Need specific advice and want to schedule an appointment? Dr. Jennifer Collins is affiliated with NYU Langone and Mount Sinai Hospitals.   Gramercy Allergy is New York City's premier allergy office offering full allergy and immunological evaluations.  

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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

What is Cold Induced Asthma?

Over the past few days, New Yorkers have been enjoying springtime weather, but plunging temperatures this weekend may trigger asthma symptoms.  These past few weeks many patients have been coming in with symptoms of uncontrolled asthma triggered by the terrific changes in temperature New York is experiencing.  Many don't realize that that nagging cough they have when going outside, or mild chest tightness is a sign of cold induced asthma.

Asthma, chronic inflammation of the the airways and lungs, is commonly triggered by cold temperatures.    With over 1.1 million New Yorkers suffering from asthma, I thought it might be a good idea to give you some tips on preventing an asthma attack.  What is cold-induced asthma?

Here are 5 tips for preventing an asthma attack when the temperature drops!
1) Use a scarf.

  • Warming air before it enters your lungs can help prevent an asthma attack.
2) Breath via your nose.

  •  Your nose is specially designed to air before it enters into your lungs.

3) Keep well hydrated.

  •  Drinking plenty of water will keep your lungs hydrated from the inside out.  When your lungs are dehydrated you're more likely to have an asthma attack.

4)  Use your inhaler.

  • Use your albuterol inhaler (rescue inhaler) 15-30 minutes before going outside if your asthma is commonly triggered by cold weather.
5) Keep your inhaler warm.

  • Keeping your inhaler in an inside pocket near your body will keep the medicine warm.  Warming the medicine will prevent for a cold spray of medicine into your lungs.
Symptoms of asthma are cough, chest tightness, shortness of breath and wheezing. If you experience any of these and can't get them under control, contact your doctor or the emergency room.

Want to schedule an appointment ?  We accept most insurances and are conveniently located near Union Square and Madison Square Park.

About Me

Jennifer Collins, MD, brings over a decade of experience practicing medicine, conducting research and teaching to Gramercy Allergy & Asthma. She is a thought leader in the field of allergy, asthma and immunology and has been nominated three years in a row to New York’s List of Rising Stars.  Her focus is centered on problem solving to identify realistic and timely solutions to your needs. Continued dedication to learning through academic national conferences and lectures keeps her abreast of the latest cutting edge treatments.  It’s Dr. Collins’s pleasure to bring all of this knowledge to Gramercy Allergy & Asthma to provide comprehensive care for all of your allergy, asthma and immunological needs.
Core to her approach is taking a detailed history to capture your symptoms, identifying the cause of your problem and providing a fast solution. She is an expert in: allergies of the eyes, nose throat, and skin, asthma, chronic sinusitis, nasal polyps, hives, skin rashes, eczema, eosinophilia, drug allergy, aspirin allergy and desensitization, and immunological problems.