Household Products and Asthma

Keeping your home clean can minimize your exposure to various asthma triggers such as dust and mold.  However, some household cleaning products contain harmful chemicals that can induce asthma symptoms.

Certain cleaning products are known to release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the air while they are being used.  VOCs are dangerous gases that can cause adverse reactions, and contribute to chronic respiratory problems.   According to the American Lung Association (ALA), “Cleaning supplies and household products containing VOCs and other toxic substances can include, but are not limited to: aerosol spray products, chlorine bleach, detergent and dishwashing liquid, rug and upholstery cleaners and oven cleaners.”

The ALA also warns people with asthma and other chronic respiratory health problems against the use of products that contain a mixture of bleach and ammonia.   This harmful combination is a known asthma trigger. In some cases, symptoms that result from the use of both products can lead to death.

One of the most effective ways to avoid using harmful household products is to carefully read their labels.  Purchase products that contain zero or reduced amounts of VOCs, irritants or fragrances.   The ALA recommends using milder products such as baking soda, vinegar, borax, or lemon juice to make alternative and safer cleaning solutions. If you must use a chemical product choose those that are certified green by reputable organizations such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and wear protective masks and gloves.

It is also important to keep in mind that while you are cleaning to keep your area well ventilated. Do not use products in an enclosed area; open your windows and doors.  Proper ventilation reduces the effects that poor air quality can have on your health.

For additional information on safe ways to clean your home, visit the American Lung Association’s website at www.Lung.org

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Asthma and Humidity

Severe weather conditions such as high humidity can negatively affect those living with asthma.

Excessive moisture and the heaviness of the air caused by humidity can make it difficult to breathe. Hot and humid air can also help allergens which trigger asthma symptoms such as mold to thrive.

High humidity levels can cause the following asthma symptoms to occur:

  • Chest tightness
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chronic coughing

To avoid or minimize the risk of these symptoms, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that humidity levels should be kept between 35%-50% in the home.  When temperatures are hot and humid, it is best to use an air conditioner or dehumidifier, or both.

If you are experiencing symptoms of asthma, take medications as directed or contact your doctor immediately.

To schedule an appointment with a doctor at Flushing Hospital Medical Center, please call 718-670-5486.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Urticaria (hives) is a skin condition caused usually by an allergic reaction or in some cases, unknown reasons.  Hives can appear on any part of the body and appear when a substance within the body called histamine is released from cells called mast cells. This causes fluid to leak from blood vessels, causing a reaction on the surface of the skin.

Hives can be as small as a pencil point or appear as big welts and are usually red, itchy and have varying shapes.  They usually last a few hours but can last a day or so, and if there is constant exposure to what is causing the condition, they will last much longer. The condition can be acute, lasting just a few weeks, to chronic which can go on for months.

The allergic reaction may be a result of exposure to certain allergens, chemicals in some food, insect bites, heat, cold and being out in sunlight. Certain medications can also be responsible for causing hives, most notably nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), aspirin, codeine, and morphine.

Hives usually resolve on their own in a few hours or days. One way to try to control the symptoms of hives is to avoid what is causing it, if it can be determined. Often times a physician will recommend taking an antihistamine. It is always suggested to see a physician if the condition becomes very uncomfortable or doesn’t resolve in a few days. If you would like to schedule an appointment with a physician at Flushing Hospital, please call 718-670-5486.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

How Does Hot Weather Affect Asthma ?

It is a fact that breathing difficulties associated with asthma are affected by hot weather. Anyone who has walked a few blocks when it is hot and humid outside will know that breathing seems to be more difficult. This is especially true for anyone who suffers from asthma. One possible cause of this is due to the hot, humid air irritating the airways causing inflammation which will lead to symptoms of an asthma attack. Another reason is that hot and humid air is heavier and therefore a person may have to struggle to breathe..
In hot weather months there is an increase in the amount of ozone in the air and also a higher concentration of dust and fine particles which can cause existing respiratory conditions to worsen especially in the very young and the elderly.
Some of the environmental factors that affect the respiratory system are:
• Higher levels of carbon dioxide and higher temperature can lead to more spores and mold in the air.

• Higher temperatures can lead to more greenhouse gases being produced.

• Environmental production of pollutants from vehicles and factories become trapped in the atmosphere.

These environmental conditions can cause chest pain, wheezing, and coughing, and reduced lung function for those who suffer with asthma.
Irritants that affect breathing function have definitely worsened over the years due to climate changes. People are being treated more frequently in the emergency rooms across the country due to lack of clean air to breathe.
To help avoid asthma attacks in hot weather it is recommended to:
• Stay indoors as much as possible in an air conditioned environment
• Avoid strenuous activity
• Keep hydrated
• Try to limit being outdoors during the hottest time of day
To schedule an appointment with a physician at Flushing Hospital who can help treat breathing difficulties, please call 718-670-5486.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Asthma and Allergies

The most common form of asthma is caused by an allergic reaction. More than fifty percent of people who suffer from asthma have this type of disease. Asthma is an airway obstruction caused by inflammation and is a reaction that people have when they are exposed to substances that they are allergic to. Some of the offending substances are pet dander, pollen, dust mites, mold and some foods. An asthma attack has three components:

• The bands of muscles surrounding the airways in the lungs tighten. This is called broncospasm.

• The lining of the airways become inflamed and swollen.

• There is an increase in mucous production in the lining of the airway.

All of these factors make it harder for air to pass through the lungs, and breathing becomes difficult.

Treatment for allergy induced asthma requires testing to see what a person is allergic to. Once these allergens have been identified the patient will be advised to avoid them. There is no cure for asthma but, there are several medications available that can help control it. Antihistamines are often administered, which help reduce the allergic reaction. A physician may prescribe corticosteroids to reduce the inflammation of the airway and make breathing easier. Some medications are given for immediate relief of symptoms. Such as broncodilators which are inhaled as needed to help to relax the airways. Other medications are used for long term control of symptoms and are taken on a daily basis. Speak to your physician if you experience difficulty breathing after coming in contact with certain substances. There are different treatment options available and you want to learn about the one that will be best for you.  You can also schedule an appointment with a pulmonologist  at Flushing Hospital by calling 718-670-5486.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Ways to Reduce Symptoms of Eczema

Itching

Eczema is a condition that causes patches of skin to become red, inflamed, rough and itchy.  Eczema is not a specific health condition; it is a reaction pattern that the skin produces as a result of a number of different diseases.

The specific causes of eczema currently remain unknown, but it is believed to develop due to a combination of hereditary (genetic) and environmental factors.

Environmental symptoms of eczema include:

  • Irritants – soaps, detergents, shampoos, disinfectants, juices from fresh fruits, meats, or vegetables
  • Allergens – dust mites, pets, pollens, mold, dandruff
  • Microbes – bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus, viruses, certain fungi
  • Hot and cold temperatures – hot weather, high and low humidity, perspiration from exercise
  • Foods – dairy products, eggs, nuts and seeds, soy products, wheat
  • Stress – it is not a cause of eczema but can make symptoms worse
  • Hormones – women can experience worsening of eczema symptoms at times when their hormone levels are changing, for example during pregnancy and at certain points in their menstrual cycle

Since there is no cure for eczema, treatment for the condition is aimed toward healing the affected skin in an effort to prevent a flare up of symptoms.  For some people, eczema goes away over time, and for others, it remains a lifelong condition.

There are a number of things that people with eczema can do to support skin health and alleviate symptoms, such as:

  • Taking regular warm baths
  • Applying moisturizer within 3 minutes of bathing to “lock in” moisture
  • Moisturizing every day
  • Wearing cotton and soft fabrics, avoiding rough, scratchy fibers, and tight-fitting clothing
  • Using mild soap or a non-soap cleanser when washing
  • Air drying or gently patting skin dry with a towel, rather than rubbing skin dry after bathing
  • Avoiding rapid changes of temperature and activities that make you sweat (where possible)
  • Learning individual eczema triggers and avoiding them
  • Using a humidifier in dry or cold weather
  • Keeping fingernails short to prevent scratching from breaking skin

Medication can also be helpful in treating or preventing symptoms.  These treatments are prescribed by a physician.  If you are experiencing symptoms of eczema and would like to speak with a physician, call Flushing Hospital Medical Center’s Ambulatory Care Center at 718-670-5486 to schedule an appointment.

 

 

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

The Flu Vaccine

Caution - Flu Season Ahead

Influenza – the unwelcome guest that comes calling on us every year – often with many very unpleasant consequences. Historically, widespread flu epidemics have had devastating effects on large portions of the earth’s population. It wasn’t until the 1930’s that two scientists, Dr. Jonas Salk and Dr. Thomas Francis developed the first vaccine to prevent the flu virus. The vaccine was given to American soldiers during World War II and was found to be useful in preventing the widespread outbreaks that had been common before the vaccines were used. In the years after the war, the vaccine was made available to the general public and has greatly reduced the widespread epidemics that were so common before. Research has helped to develop better vaccines with fewer side effects and also better suited to combat strains of the influenza virus that keep changing every year. Over the past 60 years millions of people have been given the flu vaccine each year. There is still a debate going on as to whether the flu vaccine is safe. Many people still are hesitant about getting the vaccine at all. The flu still comes calling every year, and many people are still being affected. However there are much fewer catastrophic epidemics throughout the world, and symptoms appear to be lessened, thanks in large part to the work done by Dr Salk and Dr. Francis in the early part of the last century.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

How Does Hot Weather Affect Asthma

Exhausted female runner suffering angina pectoris

Exhausted female runner suffering angina pectoris

It is a fact that breathing difficulties associated with asthma are affected by hot weather. Anyone who has walked a few blocks when it is hot and humid outside will know that breathing seems to be more difficult. This is especially true for anyone who suffers from asthma. One possible cause of this is due to the hot, humid air irritating the airways causing inflammation which will lead to symptoms of an asthma attack. Another reason is that hot and humid air is heavier and therefore a person may have to struggle to breathe..
In hot weather months there is an increase in the amount of ozone in the air and also a higher concentration of dust and fine particles which can cause existing respiratory conditions to worsen especially in the very young and the elderly.
Some of the environmental factors that affect the respiratory system are:
• Higher levels of carbon dioxide and higher temperature can lead to more spores and mold in the air.

• Higher temperatures can lead to more greenhouse gases being produced.

• Environmental production of pollutants from vehicles and factories become trapped in the atmosphere.

These environmental conditions can cause chest pain, wheezing, and coughing, and reduced lung function for those who suffer with asthma.
Irritants that affect breathing function have definitely worsened over the years due to climate changes. People are being treated more frequently in the emergency rooms across the country due to lack of clean air to breathe.
To help avoid asthma attacks in hot weather it is recommended to:
• Stay indoors as much as possible in an air conditioned environment
• Avoid strenuous activity
• Keep hydrated
• Try to limit being outdoors during the hottest time of day
To schedule an appointment with a physician at Jamaica Hospital who can help treat breathing difficulties, please call 718-206-7001.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

May is National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month

Young girl in autumn park blowing nose. Standing in park in warm clothing.

The month of May has been designated as “National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Spring is the beginning of the peak season for asthma and allergy sufferers. Asthma affects approximately 24.5 million Americans, 6.3 million of them are under the age of 18. More than 50 million people in the United States have some type of allergy and that number is increasing every year.
If a person knows that they have asthma, it is suggested that they avoid things that can trigger an attack. Triggers are anything that the body is sensitive to that causes the airways to become inflamed.
Common triggers are:
• Pollen
• Changes in weather
• Dust
• Stress
• Exercise
• Chemicals
Symptoms of asthma are shortness of breath, wheezing, chest tightness, and coughing. There is no cure for asthma however there are medications that can help to keep it controlled.
Allergies are a very common chronic illness that lasts a long time or occurs frequently. Allergies occur when the body comes in to contact with a substance that causes the immune system to overreact.
Some of the more common substances people are allergic to are:
• Food
• Insect bites
• Latex
• Mold
• Pets
• Pollen
• Medications
Symptoms of allergies may include watery eyes, sneezing, itchiness, rash, hives and difficulty breathing. Severe cases can lead to anaphylactic shock which is potentially life threatening due to a lowering of the blood pressure and a dilation of the blood vessels, if not treated quickly.
Doctors can perform tests to see how you respond to small amounts of allergens.  There are ways to treat allergies, the best method though is to avoid things that you know will cause a reaction in the first place. There are medications available to control allergic reactions and doctors can give injections that act to train the immune system to not overreact to these substances.
To schedule an appointment at Flushing Hospital with a physician to discuss controlling asthma and allergies, please call 718-670-5486.

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All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Are Allergy Shots an Option for You?

Do you suffer with seasonal allergies and over the counter medications have not helped? Allergy shots may be an option when all other treatment methods have failed.

The diagnosis allergy written on a clipboard

Allergy shots, also known as immunotherapy, are injections given at regular intervals to allergy sufferers over three to five years to stop or reduce the symptoms associated with an allergy attack. Each shot contains a tiny amount of the allergens that trigger an attack; just enough to spark the immune system, but not enough to cause a reaction. Over time, doctors will increase the amount of allergens as your system builds up a tolerance to them and becomes desensitized to their effects.

Allergy shots should be considered if medications to treat your allergies are ineffective, if allergy medications poorly interact with other medications you are taking, if allergy medications cause bothersome side effects, or if you want to reduce the long-term use of allergy medications.

Allergy shots can be used to treat reactions to:

• Seasonal allergens, such as pollens released by trees, grass, and weeds
• Indoor allergens, such as dust mites, pet dander, and mold
• Insect strings from bees, wasps, hornets, or yellow jackets

Unfortunately, allergy shots cannot treat food allergies.

Before you can even consider receiving an allergy shot your doctor must perform a skin test to determine what you are allergic to. During a skin test, a small amount of multiple allergens are scratched into your skin and the area (usually the back) is observed for 15 minutes. Redness or swelling will occur on whatever substances you are allergic to.
Once identified, allergy shots are injected regularly during two different phases of treatment.

• The build-up phase –Typically shots are given one to three times a week over three to six months. During the buildup phase, the allergen dose is gradually increased with each shot.
• The maintenance – This phase generally continues for three to five years or longer with maintenance injections administered approximately once a month.

You will need to remain in the doctor’s office for 30 minutes after each shot, in case you have a reaction, which can include local redness or swelling, sneezing, or nasal congestion. In rare cases, allergy shots can result in low blood pressure or difficulty breathing.

Allergy symptoms won’t stop overnight. They usually improve during the first year of treatment, but the most noticeable improvement often happens during the second year. By the third year, most people are desensitized to the allergens contained in the shots — and no longer have significant allergic reactions to those substances. After a few years of successful treatment, some people don’t have significant allergy problems even after allergy shots are stopped. Other people need ongoing shots to keep symptoms under control.

Speak with your doctor to determine if allergy shots are an option for you. If you do not have a doctor, Flushing Hospital has an allergy clinic. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 718-670-5486.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.