Allergy Blog

Keep Your Pets and Feel Good, Too

Having a pet allergy may make it more difficult to live with the animals you love, but it doesn’t have to make it impossible. Some people may have pet allergies as a child, and others may develop them in adulthood. Regardless, there are a number of measures you can take to happily co-exist with pets. Understanding Pet Allergies If you suspect a pet allergy, the first step is to see a physician for an allergy exam. You may actually be allergic to something else besides your pet. There have been instances when people mistakenly thought they were allergic to their dog or cat, only to discover later that they were actually allergic to the plant pollens that clung to their pet’s fur. If your doctor confirms that you are allergic to your pet, it’s important to understand the source of that allergy. You are likely reacting to pet dander, the microscopic flecks of skin that animals shed. You may also be allergic to proteins found in your pet’s urine or saliva. Reducing Exposure In most cases, allergic reactions to pets are not life threatening, but the symptoms they generate can certainly reduce your quality of life. To minimize exposure to pet allergens, consider taking the following steps: Allergy-free zone – Keep at least one area of your house completely pet-free. HEPA air filters – Use HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters throughout the house. Avoid carpeted floors and curtains that may trap pet dander. Bathe your pet weekly – Regular bathing will reduce the accumulation of allergy-causing dander on your pet. Ask your vet about proper pet-bathing techniques. Try treatments... read more

Enjoying Valentine’s Day Dining in Spite of Food Allergies

Valentine’s Day is approaching and many people are already making reservations for a night in the town. For people with food allergies, this may present a problem. Eating certain menu items could trigger their allergies, putting a serious wrench in their romantic Valentine’s Day dinner. The following guides will help people with allergies enjoy their dinner dates without fear of reactions: Be prepared – Do your homework before your date. Know where offending food proteins could be hiding. Many restaurants post their menus online, allowing you to examine food choices and ingredients in advance. Carry your medications – An epinephrine injection is the first line of defense in the event of an allergic reaction. Always have your EpiPen handy, especially when dining out. Bring a food allergy card – Complete a card listing the extent of your food allergies. You can hand it to the waiter when you place your order. The waiter can give the card to the chefs who can then help you avoid any possible allergy triggers. Pick the right restaurant – Try calling the restaurant in advance to make sure they can accommodate allergy-free requests. Dine early – Plan to arrive at the restaurant early to beat the crowds. That way, the chefs and kitchen staff will have time to work with your food requests. Ask for the manager – When you first enter the restaurant, talk to the manager and explain your condition. He or she can be your liaison with the chef. Be assertive but friendly – Be courteous. Courteous people get better results than overbearing or demanding ones. Be cautious with dessert... read more

Allergic to Valentine’s Day?

Love is in the air as Valentine’s Day approaches. You may be searching for that perfect gift for your special someone, but if they are allergy-prone, make sure to exercise caution. Some of the most common Valentine’s Day gifts contain allergens that stir up miserable symptoms. Valentine’s Day Allergens Here are a few of the gifts that can trigger allergies: Candy – This Valentine’s Day staple often comes wrapped in a heart-shaped box, looking inviting and appetizing. The problem is that it may contain prominent allergens such as dairy or nuts. Before giving a food-related gift, make sure to confirm that it does not contain an ingredient that will trigger your partner’s allergies. Flowers – Few gifts are more ubiquitous than a bouquet of flowers on Valentine’s Day, but if the blooms leave your partner sneezing and puffy-eyed, you may want to reconsider. Ensure that your loved one does not have flower allergies before calling the florist. If in doubt, choose less-allergenic flowers such as roses, irises, tulips, and periwinkles. Perfumes – Some scents contain chemicals that can trigger allergies. In severe cases, they can cause a person’s airways to swell and even lead to an asthma attack. If your sweetheart is sensitive to perfumes, you should avoid gifting them and also consider minimizing perfume use yourself. Jewelry – If you are out to make a great impression on the person you love, jewelry can make a great gift choice. However, jewelry may contain nickel that can trigger skin allergies. Nickel-free jewelry is the safer option. Dinner – If you are taking your loved one out for a romantic... read more

The Allergy Epidemic

Allergies are on the rise. Health professionals and government authorities have reported an increasing trend of food and skin allergies in the population under age 18. It doesn’t stop there. The general population also complained of more allergies caused by inhalant or environmental allergens. This increasing trend may be explained by the following factors: Hygiene – Allergy experts believe that living conditions in many first-world countries have simply become too clean. As a result, children are no longer exposed to as many germs. Sound like a good thing? Not necessarily. Ongoing experience with germs helps teach young immune systems to know the difference between harmful and harmless irritants. Studies have shown that children in developed countries with better sanitation have lower incidents of infections but higher incidents of allergy, as compared to the population in less-developed countries (where there are more cases of infections but lower incidents of allergy). It is believed that more exposure to bacteria and endotoxins educates the immune system to properly function rather than overreacting to harmless allergens in the environment. Climate change – Some experts believe that global warming is partly responsible for the increase in cases of allergies, signaling that climate change has become a health issue, in addition to an environmental one. The National Wildlife Federation estimates that climate change will account for increased allergies for approximately 25 million Americans. This is due to the faster production of pollens spurred on by increased carbon dioxide levels in the environment. Climate change can lengthen the term of the standard allergy season, causing people to experience symptoms for longer than they typically do. The... read more

Take These Steps Before Seeing a Doctor About Your Food Allergies

If you have a food allergy, it’s a good idea to see your doctor. You can get far more out of your appointment if you have prepared to see your allergy doctor. Preparation can ensure that you will not waste your time or your doctor’s time by being uncertain of exactly how to share your concerns or what questions you should ask. Here’s a short list of things to do before your appointment: If you’ve had a food-related reaction, consider writing down the details. Explain what you ate and what happened when you ate it. This written description can be included in your medical record. Bring a list of current medications that you are taking and their dosage. Make sure to include over-the-counter medications and vitamin supplements. The list will be useful when the doctor makes his or her diagnosis of your condition. There may be an allergen in your medication that is aggravating your reactions. In addition, if your doctor prescribes something to help you, your list can help the doctor make sure that none of the medications you are taking will react poorly with the new prescription. (If your current medications need refilling, make sure to seize the opportunity of the office visit to inform your doctor of this, so you don’t have to come back later.) Bring a copy of the ingredients or label of the food that you suspect may have triggered your allergy. Doctors can use this in their diagnosis. If you are afraid that you won’t remember everything you discussed with the doctor, bring a family member or friend to make note of... read more

Imagine a Year Without Allergies

If allergies are cutting into your quality of life, consider some ideas for minimizing your exposure to allergens this year. Different allergens, such as pollen, mold, animal dander, and dust, are common in our environment. Most of these allergens abound during spring and fall, but some of them are present in the environment year-round. Though it’s impossible to escape the effects of allergens altogether, there are a few things that you can do to limit your contact with them. Rethink your exercise plan – Exercising outside can be invigorating, but as you draw in the fresh air, it may be jam-packed with airborne allergens such as pollen and mold spores. If your allergy symptoms flare during your outdoor workouts, it may be wise to take your exercises indoors to minimize contact with outdoors allergens. If you really love being outdoors, try changing locations to see if that helps. Perhaps walking a school track may be better than walking neighborhood streets lined with plants and trees. Avoid busy streets as vehicular fumes can also worsen your allergic reactions. Another option is to take a non-drowsy antihistamine before starting your outdoor exercises. Watch out for non-seasonal allergens – Pollens peak in spring and fall, but allergens such as animal dander and dust mites are present all year. If these allergens make you feel lousy, take steps to avoid them. If you are allergic to cats, do not visit the home of a cat-owning friend. Meet your friend elsewhere instead. If you react to dust, opt for hard floors with washable rugs instead of carpets, which are a favorite habitat of dust... read more