Early Exposure to Pet and Pest Allergens Could Reduce Asthma Risk

babies and dog allergies

More than 8 percent of children in the U.S. currently have asthma. Did you know early exposure to some allergens may reduce a child’s asthma risk?

The ongoing The Urban Environment and Childhood Asthma study (URECA) found a link between early exposure to pet and pest allergens and reduced asthma risk. More than 400 newborns were watched from birth until 7 years old. These children lived in four cities in the U.S. and had a high risk of developing asthma. At least one parent had to be diagnosed with asthma or allergies for the child to be in this study.

Experts looked at the effect of the following pest and pet allergens in the children’s homes:

  • Cockroaches
  • Mice
  • Cats
  • Dogs

The study found exposure to high levels of these four pest and pet allergens by 3 months old reduced the children’s risk of getting asthma.

But if asthma and allergies to pests and pets develop, you should help your child avoid these allergens as much as possible. You should also take steps to keep them under control in your home.

These findings will help uncover information about how early-life factors affect a child’s health. It may also help experts to develop ways to prevent childhood asthma.

 

If you’re in need of an allergy or asthma appointment for you or your child, schedule an appointment at any of our 5 Phoenix Valley locations today!

 

*Original article can be found on Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s website

Is it Allergies or a Cold?

cold vs. allergies

Are you thinking you may have allergies? Schedule an appointment with the Arizona Asthma and Allergy Institute at a location that’s convenient for you.

 

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Too often when someone has the sniffles, others assume that they are contagious. However, those sniffles are often caused by something not contagious at all. For those suffering from congestion, runny nose, sneezing, and coughing, a cold may be the first thought, but these are also signs of allergies. Learn the differences between allergies and a cold so you can find the right relief fast.

What is a cold?

Also known as “the common cold,” a cold is a virus. According to the Mayo Clinic, there are more than 100 different types of cold viruses. So while symptoms and severity may vary, colds generally share some of the same basic characteristics.

Below are the key features of this common illness:

Colds may be passed through the air from coughing and sneezing, as well as through touch.
Most common symptoms include cough, sore throat, and a runny, stuffy nose.
Sneezing and itchy eyes are less common symptoms.
More severe colds can cause fevers and body aches.
Recovery is usually quick — in fact, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) estimates that the average duration is 7 to 10 days.
If symptoms last more than a week or two, the cold may have progressed into an infection.
People with allergies are sometimes more prone to catching colds.
Despite its name, you can catch a “cold” any time of year. NIAID estimates that the average healthy adult catches two to three colds per year. Young children may get more colds because of their weaker immune systems.

What are allergies?

Allergies occur when your immune system has an adverse reaction to certain substances. Upon exposure to triggers, the immune system releases chemicals called histamines. While intended to fight off perceived intruders, the release of histamine is actually what causes allergy symptoms.

The following are the facts you need to know about allergies:

Some of the symptoms are similar to colds, such as sneezing, sore throat, coughing, runny nose, and congestion.
Sore throat in allergies is most often caused by postnasal drip.
Allergies can also cause rashes and itchy eyes.
Fevers and body aches are not signs of an allergy.
Seasonal allergies are most common, but you might also be allergic to certain substances year round. Allergy triggers may include:

  • pollen from trees, grasses, or weeds
  • dust mites
  • animal dander
  • mold
  • foods (such as tree nuts, milk, and eggs)

You can tell you might suffer from allergies instead of a cold by the duration of your symptoms — they won’t go away without treatment or removal from the original trigger.

Treating the common cold

Since they are viruses, colds themselves are not treatable. Still, there are medications that can help alleviate your symptoms while a cold runs its course. These include:

  • cough syrups (these are not recommended for children under the age of two)
  • decongestant sprays (only use for a few days — these are also not recommended for children)
  • pain relievers, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil)
  • multi-symptom cold relief medicines (such as DayQuil)
  • Make sure you ask your doctor before taking any over-the-counter cold medications, especially if you take any prescription medications or if you have any underlying health conditions. No cold medications should be used for an extended period of time. Doing so can cause side effects, such as liver damage.

There are also home remedies you can try that are free of the risk of side effects. Some of the options include:

  • drinking a lot of water, juice, and herbal tea (avoid caffeine)
  • using saline nasal sprays
  • gargling with salt water
  • using a humidifier
    Antibiotics don’t work for colds, since they are viruses. If a cold progresses to a sinus infection, however, an antibiotic may be used.

Allergy treatments

Unlike a cold, treatments are available for allergies. Antihistamines (such as Allegra, Benadryl, and Zyrtec) tend to be the first line of allergy treatment. These work by blocking histamine reactions to allergens, thereby reducing symptoms. Be aware that some antihistamines can cause drowsiness — either look for a non-drowsy formula, or consider taking them at night only.

In more severe cases, an allergist might prescribe a decongestant to help alleviate sinus congestion from allergy symptoms. These work by breaking up the congestion and drying up the sinuses. The caveat is that these can actually cause congestion to worsen if taken over a long period of time. Decongestants are sold under the brand names Sudafed, Mucinex, and Claritin-D.

As with cold symptoms, saline sprays and humidifiers can help alleviate certain allergy symptoms.

Outlook

While some of the symptoms of allergies and colds are similar, these are two very different health conditions. Knowing the difference can help you obtain the right treatment so you’ll be on your way to feeling better sooner rather than later. Any allergy or cold symptoms that don’t get better with treatment should be looked at by your doctor to rule out any possible infections. For instance, a sinus infection (sinusitis), can occur when bacteria causes the sinuses to become infected. This can be brought on by either a cold or allergies — both of which cause mucus to build up in the sinus cavities and create blockages.

Those suffering from sinus infections will likely be prescribed antibiotics to help fight the infection, as well as decongestants to reduce symptoms. You should also seek medical attention if you have colored phlegm or a high fever.

 

 

If you believe you may have allergies, schedule an allergy appointment with Arizona Asthma and Allergy Institute at a time and location that’s convenient for you.

*Original article can found at healthline*

SPECIAL HOURS

Cooking and Baking Tips

Cooking and baking without common ingredients like milk, eggs and wheat may sound like a challenge. But fortunately, you can make simple substitutions and still achieve tasty results.

If you’re looking for ways to make delicious, allergy-friendly meals and treats, try some of these substitutes for common allergens.

 

Eggsegg replacement baking recipe

For each egg in a recipe, substitute one of the following combinations. These substitutes work well when baking from scratch and in recipes that call for 1 to 3 eggs.

  • 1 tsp. baking powder, 1 T. liquid, 1 T. vinegar
  • 1 tsp. yeast dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 1/2 T. water, 1 1/2 T. oil, 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 packet gelatin, 2 T. warm water. Do not mix until ready to use.

Milk

Milk is one of the easiest ingredients to substitute in baking and cooking. Just use equal amounts of water or fruit juice. (For example, substitute 1 cup milk with 1 cup water.)

 

Wheatwheat replacement

A combination of wheat-free flours usually works best for baking. Experiment with different blends to find one that will give you the texture you desire.

Try substituting 1 cup wheat flour with one of the following:

  • 7/8 cup rice flour
  • 5/8 cup potato starch flour
  • 1 cup soy flour, plus 1/4 cup potato starch flour
  • 1 cup corn flour

Original article can be found here.

Halloween & Food Allergies: Alternate Activities for Children

Halloween is a time full of costumes, fun and candy. The kids are eager to put on their favorite costume and rush out the door for trick or treating.

For parents with children food allergies, this time of year can be stressful. Don’t let this holiday catch you and your little ones with food allergies off guard. Here are some helpful tips to make this the happiest Halloween yet for your kids with food allergies.

Inform Your Neighborhoodfood allergy friendly halloween

The Food Allergy Research & Education has many wonderful resources to inform others about The Teal Pumpkin Project and let them know you are participating in providing non-food treats, like stickers or glow sticks. Check out resources by the F.A.R.E. that include fun activities for kids that don’t involve candy.

 

Be Prepared: Basic Precautions

Make sure your child has their EpiPen with them and check that the adult taking your child out for trick-or-treating knows how to administer the medication, if need be. It is also a smart idea to have your child carry hand wipes in case they accidentally touch unsafe candy.

Bring Safe Candy

Many children like to eat candy as they go trick-or-treating. Bring along a bag of safe candy for your child to munch on so they aren’t tempted to eat the candy they receive before you get a chance to look at the ingredients list.

Food Allergy Candy

Create New Traditions

Halloween doesn’t have to only consist of trick-or-treating; consider inviting friends over for a Halloween party! If you host, you can control exactly what food is available to your children. There are many fun things you can do that don’t involve just eating candy, like having a spooky movie night, bobbing for apples, face painting or creating your own haunted house.

nut free halloween

 

As always, follow your usual food safety rules and precautions this Halloween. Halloween is an opportunity to have fun, dress up and celebrate the spooky night! Consider your child’s food allergies an opportunity to make some new traditions this Halloween that don’t involve candy!

Fall Allergies In The Phoenix Valley

With the cooler Arizona temperatures comes an increase in pollen from all sorts of desert plants.

Know what to expect so you can be best prepared for fall.

With all of the rain that comes from the monsoon season comes the growth of grasses and weeds, which can contribute to these high pollen counts.  In fact, according to everyday HEALTH, “A single plant can produce one billion pollen grains per season.” This can be a miserable statistic for those that suffer from seasonal allergies.

Many plants like ragweed, bermuda grass and sagebrush grow well from September-November. All of these plants contain severe allergens and should be avoided to minimize allergic reactions. To see a complete list of significant allergens in Maricopa County visit Pollen Library.  

Here are some precautions you can take during the fall allergy season:

-Use a face mask outside on windy days

-Shower frequently to remove pollen from your skin and hair

-Keep your windows closed

-Dry your clothes in the dryer, instead of hanging them outside to dry

 

If you’re suffering from fall allergies, you don’t have to go at it alone. Make an allergy appointment at any of our office across the Phoenix Valley.

Allergies, Asthma and Back to School

The beginning of the school year is an exciting time for many, but it can also be a time of anxiety for children who have asthma or allergies.  Help your child walk confidently into school this year, knowing that they are prepared as possible.

1. Keep on top of medication before the school year starts.

Make sure that your child is on top of their necessary medication before the first week of school arrives. Making a routine of knowing what medication to take when can relieve anxiety surrounding taking medication at school.

2. Get a tour.

Contact the school to get a tour of your child’s classroom and the nurse’s office.  Going into school before the school year starts will calm your child’s nerves, by allowing them to know what to expect when they need to go to the nurse’s office for help or medication.

 3. Have a Signal.

It would also be a great idea to talk to your child’s teacher about a discrete signal that the two of them can use when your child needs to go get medication from the nurse. This way your child can get the help they need, when they need it, without drawing attention to themselves.

4. Know Their Limitations.

It’s important for all children, even those with exercise-induced asthma, to get regular exercise. Talk to your chid’s doctor about what types of physical activity are less likely to trigger asthma and allergy symptoms, and consider encouraging your child to participate in those activities. Make sure that your child uses their inhaler before they exercise and that they have plenty of water to keep hydrated!

 

 

If you or your child is in need of an appointment with one of our allergy or asthma specialists, contact us today for an allergy or asthma appointment!

 

 

 

 

 

Monsoon Season Allergies

The monsoon season is an eerily beautiful time of year that brings with it storms and sweet relief from the scorching summer heat. Unfortunately, with the monsoons also come monsoon season allergies, infection and issues with digestion for many.

Whipping winds with pollen, dirt and dust particles are the perfect recipe to aggravate your allergies. Not only this, but the rain and wet clothes can lead to the spread of infection during the monsoon season. An unanticipated effect of the monsoons are digestion issues.

Here are some tips to keep yourself as healthy as possible and keep control of your monsoon season allergies.

  1. Watch What You Eat.

    If you’re eating food from the garden or if you’re buying food from a food cart on the side of the road, dust and other particles are more likely to be in those foods. Be aware of this and counter it by making sure you’re rinsing food off food as much as possible before consuming it.

  2. Limit your exposure.

    Roll up the windows while you’re in the car, keep windows closed and make sure to shower every night before going to bed, to keep away and rinse off any allergens that may be aggravating your symptoms.

  3. Wash your hands.

    While dust storms do kick up a great deal of dust and allergens, washing hands before every meal can do a great deal for those with allergies from the dust storms.  Washing your hands will keep away many infections and rinse off allergens that may be on your hands and arms from being out in the dust storms.

Are you suffering from monsoon season allergies or asthma? Contact Arizona Asthma and Allergy Institute to schedule your allergy or asthma appointment today!

New Phoenix Friday Hours Coming Soon!

Asthma During Pregnancy

Asthma During Pregnancy

Asthma is one of the most common medical problems that occurs during pregnancy. It can be potentially serious. Some studies have suggested that asthma complicates up to 7% of all pregnancies. About 30% of all women with asthma report their asthma  worsened while pregnant. But with the right treatment and care, you and your baby can have a good outcome.

Does Asthma Cause Complications During Pregnancy?

Potential Complications

Pregnant women with asthma may have a bit greater risk of delivering early. Or the infant may have a low birth weight. High blood pressure and a related condition known as pre-eclampsia are also more common in pregnant women with more severe asthma.

Complications of asthma during pregnancy

It is not known if uncontrolled asthma causes these problems directly or if other reasons are to blame.

However, optimal control of asthma during pregnancy is the best way to cut the risk of these complications.

Changes in Asthma Severity

About one-third of pregnant women with asthma will see their asthma symptoms get worse. Another third will stay the same. The last third will see their asthma symptoms improve.

Most women with asthma whose symptoms changed in any way during pregnancy will return to their pre-pregnancy condition within three months after giving birth.

Changes in severity chart

There is a tendency for women whose asthma symptoms increased or decreased during one pregnancy to experience the same thing in later pregnancies. It is difficult to predict how asthma will change during pregnancy.

Because of this uncertainty, asthma should be followed closely. This way, any change can be promptly matched with an appropriate change in treatment. This calls for good teamwork between the  obstetrician, primary care physician and asthma specialist.

How Does Uncontrolled Asthma Affect the Fetus?

Uncontrolled asthma cuts the oxygen content of the mother’s blood. Since the fetus gets its oxygen from the mother’s blood, this can lead to decreased oxygen in the fetal blood. The result may impair fetal growth and survival. The fetus requires a constant supply of oxygen for normal growth and development. There is evidence that adequate control of asthma during pregnancy reduces the chances of fetal or newborn death and improves fetal growth inside the uterus. There are no indications that a mother’s asthma contributes to either spontaneous abortion or congenital malformation of the fetus.

What Should I Do to Avoid Asthma Attacks During Pregnancy?

Avoid Your Asthma Triggers

Avoiding asthma triggers is always important, but is particularly important during pregnancy. Pregnant women with asthma should increase avoidance measures to gain greatest comfort with the least medication.

  • Stay away from people who are sick with respiratory infections.
  • Avoid allergens like dust mites, animal dander, pollen, mold and cockroach.

Stop Smoking Cigarettes/Tobacco

Giving up cigarette smoking is important for any pregnant woman. Smoking may worsen asthma and harms the health of the growing fetus as well.

Exercise

Regular exercise is important to health. Talk to your obstetrician for the best advice about exercising during pregnancy. Swimming is a particularly good exercise for people with asthma. Using quick-relief medicine 10 minutes before exercise may help you tolerate recommended exercise.

Are Asthma Medicines Safe to Use During Pregnancy?

Is It Safe to Use Asthma Inhalers or Corticosteroids While Pregnant

Ensuring asthma is well-controlled is key. It is recommended that mothers seek regular check-ups to ensure their asthma remains controlled. Working with an asthma provider is essential. The asthma regimen that is best suited for the mother is the best approach.

Some asthma medicines are considered “safer” during pregnancy because their risks appear to be less than the risks of uncontrolled asthma. These include:

  • short-acting  inhaled bronchodilators
  • anti-leukotriene agents like montelukast (Singulair)
  • some inhaled corticosteroids, like budesonide

Based on the severity of the mother’s asthma, a doctor may consider switching her treatment to an inhaled corticosteroid alone.

Long-acting beta agonists (like Serevent, Symbicort and Advair) and theophylline are not considered first-line treatments for pregnant asthma patients. But doctors may consider them if the mother’s asthma is not adequately controlled by the above medicines.

If asthma is very severe, oral steroids such as prednisone, may be necessary for the health of the mother and baby.

Remember: It is better for mother and baby if the mother maintains asthma control (using any approved asthma drugs).

Are Allergy Shots Safe During Pregnancy?

Pregnant woman with asthma already receiving allergy shot therapy can usually continue if they are not having reactions.

As an extra precaution, though, the allergist may cut the dosage of the allergy extract to reduce the chance that a severe allergic reaction occurs or at a minimum keep the dose the same but the dose should not be increased during pregnancy since that increases the chance of a reaction.

Are Flu Shots Safe to Receive During Pregnancy?

People with asthma should get flu shots. Pregnancy does not change that recommendation. In fact, influenza may be particularly severe in pregnant women.

Asthma Attacks During Labor

When asthma is under control, asthma attacks almost never occur during labor and delivery. Also, most women with well-controlled asthma are able to perform breathing techniques during their labor without difficulty.

Is It Safe to Breastfeed?

Doctors do not believe asthma medicines are harmful to a nursing baby when used in usual amounts. The transfer of asthma medicines into breast milk has not been fully studied.

When breastfeeding, drinking extra liquids to avoid dehydration is also important (as it is for all people with asthma). Discuss with your baby’s pediatrician.

Will I Pass On Asthma to My Baby?

Genetics plays a role in whether a baby will develop asthma. In other words, asthma tends to be more likely in a baby if their relatives have it. The environment also plays an important role.

Can I Do Anything to Prevent Asthma in My Baby?

One major prenatal risk factor for the development of asthma is maternal smoking. Giving up cigarette smoking is very important. Other prenatal factors that may influence the development of asthma are:

  • maternal stress
  • diet
  • vitamin D levels
  • antibiotic use
  • method of delivery

Talk to your doctors about identifying your risk factors and making safe changes in preparation for your new baby.

 

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Original article can be found here
Medical Review November 2016.

References

Subbarao, P., Mandhane, P.J., Sears, M. R. (2009). “Asthma: epidemiology, etiology and risk factors.” CMAJhttp://www.cmaj.ca/content/181/9/E181.full.pdf+html

Willemsen, G., van Beijsterveldt, T.C.; van Baal, C.G.; et al. (2008). “Heritability of self-reported asthma and allergy: a study in adult Dutch twins, siblings and parents.” Twin Research and Human Genetics. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18361713

Holberg, C.J., Elston, R.C., Halonen, M., et al. (1996). “Segregation analysis of physician-diagnosed asthma in Hispanic and non-Hispanic white families. A recessive component?” American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. 1996;154:144–50. [PubMed]

Lawrence, S., Beasley, R., Doull, I., et al. (1994). “Genetic analysis of atopy and asthma as quantitative traits and ordered polychotomies.”  Annals of Human Genetics. 1994;58:359–68. [PubMed]

Fraga, M.F., Ballestar, E., Paz, M.F., et al. (2005). “Epigenetic differences arise during the lifetime of monozygotic twins.”  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. [PMC free article]

Qiu, Jane. (2006). “Epigenetics: unfinished symphony.” Nature.

Camargo Jr, C.A., Rifas-Shiman, S.L., Litonjua, A.A., et al. (2007).  “Maternal intake of vitamin D during pregnancy and risk of recurrent wheeze in children at 3 y of age.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17344501