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 bronchospasm.

• The lining of the airways becomes 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 bronchodilators 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.

Are You REALLY Allergic to Antibiotics?

If taken correctly and not used to inappropriately combat viruses, antibiotics can  be extremely effective in preventing the spread of infection.  While there is a great deal of information circulating about the misuse or overuse of antibiotics, there is relatively very little shared about the underuse of antibiotics due to suspected allergies.

Many Americans are under the impression that they are allergic to antibiotics, but according to a recent New York Times article, it is estimated that up to 90 percent of antibiotic allergy claims are not legitimate. So why do so many people believe they are allergic when they are not? Most often it is not the individual’s fault; they were either falsely told by their parents that they were allergic to antibiotics when they were a child or they do not understand what constitutes an allergic reaction.

In reality, many individuals experience some type of reaction after taking antibiotics, such as an upset stomach, headache or diarrhea. These bodily responses are considered side effects, and should not be classified as an allergic reaction. A true allergic reaction is when your body treats the medication entering your system as an invader and releases chemicals called histamines to attack it.

Symptoms of a mild allergic reaction can include the development of a rash, swelling of the face, or some difficulty breathing. For most mild reactions, medications such as antihistamines or corticosteroids can be taken to treat symptoms.

In rare case however, some experience a more severe allergic reaction, known as anaphylaxis. Symptoms of an anaphylactic allergic reaction include:

  • Difficult or noisy breathing
  • Swelling of the tongue
  • Swelling or tightness in the throat
  • Wheezing or coughing
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Pale complexion

Signs of an anaphylactic allergic reaction usually present within an hour of taking an antibiotic. If this type of reaction occurs, medical attention is necessary and 911 should be called immediately.  Treatment for a severe allergic reaction often requires an epinephrine injection to alleviate the symptoms.

While many antibiotic allergy claims are false, there are some people who are truly allergic. For those who truly are allergic, the antibiotic that they are most frequently allergic to is penicillin, or other antibiotics that are closely associated with it. Those who suspect that they are allergic to penicillin can confirm it with a simple skin test.

With the rise of so many “super-bugs,” proper treatment of infections using the correct course of antibiotics has never been more important.  Limiting the number of medications you can receive because you think you are allergic can prove to be very dangerous or even fatal.

If you believe you are allergic to antibiotics, but are not certain, speak to your doctor. Together you can discuss the pros and cons and arrive at an appropriate course of treatment.

Flushing Hospital’s Ambulatory Care Center has many qualified doctors who can advise you on the correct use of antibiotics. To make 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.

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.

Is It A Cold Or Is It Allergies?

The transition from winter to spring can be challenging to your health. The change in seasons often results in an overlap of symptoms that could be either the remnants of a winter cold or the first signs of spring allergies.

Woman coughing and blowing her nose in autumn

While many of the symptoms of colds and allergies are similar, the causes of each are very different.

Colds are contagious and they are contracted when a person is exposed to an individual infected with a cold virus.  Our body’s immune system will launch a counter attack against the virus. This response usually brings on the classic symptoms, such as a runny nose or cough.

An allergic reaction is caused by an overactive immune system that mistakes harmless things, such as pollen, and attacks them. To combat what it thinks are germs, your body releases chemicals called histamines as a defense. The release of these histamines can cause a swelling of the nasal passages and result in coughing and sneezing. Allergies are not contagious.

While many of the symptoms are similar, the easiest way to determine if you have a cold or are suffering from allergies is the duration of your condition. While most colds last from three to 14 days, allergies can last for months as long as the person is in contact with the allergen. Other differences are:

  • An allergic reaction will begin immediately after exposure to an allergen while cold symptoms usually take approximately three days to appear after exposure
  • Colds can sometimes cause fever and body aches while allergies never do
  • An allergic reaction can often result in itchy, watery eyes, which a cold rarely produces this type of reaction

Once a determination between cold or allergy is made, the appropriate treatment can be applied.

There is no cure for a cold, but there are medications that can help alleviate the symptoms. Cough syrups, pain relievers, decongestant sprays, or multi-symptom cold relief medicines can all be used to help, but should only be taken after consulting your doctor, especially if you are taking other medications or if you have other underlying health conditions. Drinking plenty of liquids also speeds up the recovery process.

To treat allergies, your doctor may recommend an over-the-counter antihistamine to block the reaction to the allergens. There are many forms of antihistamines and some may cause drowsiness so be sure to look for the non-drowsy formula or only take them at night. Decongestants may also be suggested to relieve nasal congestion and avoid an infection.

If you are not sure if you have a cold or allergies, please speak with your doctor. If you do not have a doctor, Flushing Hospital’s Ambulatory Care Center can help. To make an appointment, please call 718-670-8939.

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

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

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.

Should Food Allergies Make You Stop Breastfeeding?

If you have been told that your breastfed infant has food allergies, you may be wondering what to do next. Even a baby who has never been formula fed, and has never had any food besides breast milk may show symptoms of having a food allergy including: diarrhea, bloody stools, vomiting, eczema, constipation and poor growth. Babies can develop allergies to foods that you are eating while you are breastfeeding. Will you still be able to breastfeed? You may be surprised to learn that in most cases, the answer is yes.

 

 

Any food could potentially cause an allergy. The most commonly known foods to cause allergies are:

  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Nuts
  • Soy
  • Wheat

It is not easy to discover which foods are causing an allergic reaction in your baby and allergy testing in young infants is not the most reliable. One way to determine which foods are a problem for your baby is to keep a food diary of what you eat along with a record of your baby’s symptoms.

In most cases where breastfed babies experience food allergies it is usually recommended to remove dairy from your diet. Read all ingredient labels carefully to eliminate any foods that contain dairy. It takes about a month or more for your child’s symptoms to improve. If there is little to no progress after a dairy-free diet, speak to a lactation consultant about eliminating other common allergens from your diet that may be the cause of your baby’s reactions.

Sometimes babies are allergic to more than one food. You may need to stay on this restricted diet the entire time you are breastfeeding, or until your infant is one year old. Many babies outgrow their food allergies by their first birthday.

Breast milk provides important health benefits for your baby including protection from infections and a reduction in chronic diseases such as diabetes and obesity. Breastfeeding creates a special bond between mother and baby and many babies enjoy breastfeeding into the second year of life. There is no reason to wean your baby from the breast if your baby develops signs of food allergies. If you change your diet, you and your baby should be able to enjoy breastfeeding until you are both ready to stop.

If you have further questions about breastfeeding your baby and what to do when he or she has a food allergy, Flushing Hospital Medical Center’s Lactation Consultant is available to help. For further information, please call 718-206-5933.

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 Allergies Controlling Your Life?

In some parts of the country, spring allergy season starts as early as February and can last through the summer months. Tree pollen is the first sign of allergy season’s arrival and continues to cause allergy symptoms throughout March and April. Tree pollen and grass pollen are one in the same, beginning in late spring and continuing into early summer.

Allergies are the result of an over-reactive immune system. When allergies occur, the immune system mistakenly identifies an allergen such as pollen, pet dander, mold, and dust mites as an “invader.” As a reaction, the body mounts an inappropriate immune response. To get rid of the “invader,” the immune response triggers a response that results in you experiencing typical allergy symptoms like, sneezing, runny nose, and itchy, watery eyes.

People are affected by all kinds of allergens. Some people need to avoid pollen and dust; others can’t be around dogs or cats. Regardless of what sets your allergies off, symptoms can interfere with daily activities and reduce your quality of life. Here are a few suggestions to lessen the severity of your allergies:

  1. Leave your shoes at the door

When you come home from the outside, taking your shoes off at the door lessens the amount of pollen you track into the house. Wipe down your dog’s coat before he comes into the house, too, because pollen clings to fur.

  1. Change your clothes when you get home

You can bring pollen into your home on your clothes and shoes even if you can’t see it. Toss soiled clothes in the hamper immediately; even better, take a shower.

  1. Clean or change the filters in your air conditioner

Change them at the intervals recommended by the manufacturer, or more frequently if it seems to help.

  1. Keep open windows closed

Open windows can be refreshing, but they let in pollen. Close windows and outside doors, especially on high-pollen days, and turn on the heat or the air-conditioning.

  1. Take allergy medicine at night.

If your doctor suggests or prescribes allergy medicine try taking them at night. Typically, allergy symptoms tend to be at their worst in the morning.

There are many popular methods of treatment. They work in different ways, but some are more effective than others. Before making any changes in your allergy treatment options speak with your doctor first. Flushing Hospital’s Ambulatory Care Center has qualified doctors available to diagnose and treat your allergy symptoms. To make an appointment, please call 718 670-8994.

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.

Ahhhhhchew! Cold, Flu or Seasonal Allergies?

We have sprung into spring!  Flowers and trees are beginning to bud and we should be feeling great, but some of us aren’t.  If you are one of these folks, you may be experiencing seasonal allergies, or are you?

Allergies, colds and the flu are often hard to tell apart because they share many similar symptoms. It is knowing the differences in the symptoms that will help you when seeking treatment.

Colds and the flu are caused by different viruses and the symptoms associated with the flu are often more severe.  Allergies are different because they are not caused by a virus.  It is your body’s immune system reacting to an allergen that you are allergic to such as pollen or pet dander.

This chart can help you determine whether you have seasonal allergies, a cold or the flu:

Common Cold Influenza Seasonal Allergies
Stuffy or runny nose Yes Sometimes Runny, itchy nose
Fever Sometimes; mild if present Usually, often 100 degrees F (38.8 degrees C) or higher. No
Body Aches Mild Mild to severe No
Chills Sometimes Yes, sometimes intense No
Sore Throat Often Sometimes Itchy or tickling throat
Fatigue, Weakness Sometimes Usually, can last a couple of weeks after recovery Rarely
Feeling extremely exhausted No Yes No
Headache Sometimes Usually, sometimes severe Sinus pressure or stuffiness
Sinus drainage Usually Rarely Often
Diarrhea, Vomiting No Sometimes No
Cough Mild to moderate Usually, can become severe Dry or with minimal mucus
Watering eyes Sometimes Sometimes, with fever Itchy swollen, burning, and/or watery eyes
Ears Ear congestion No Ear congestion or popping
Sneezing Usually Sometimes Yes
Timing Anytime throughout the year Most cases occur between October and May. Anytime, but symptoms are often more intense in the fall and spring seasons.

If you are experiencing some or all of the symptoms listed above and would like to make an appointment to see a physician, you can call Flushing Hospital Medical Center’s Ambulatory Care Center at 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.

What is an Allergic Reaction?

Your own asthma allergyimmune system is what really causes allergic reactions.  Grass and tree pollen’s, ragweed, dust- it mistakes these harmless allergens for a serious threat and attacks them. The sneezing, watery eyes or coughing are the result of your body mistakenly attacking itself.It begins with exposure to the allergen. Even if you’ve inhaled an allergen many times before with no trouble, at some point, the body flags it as an invader. The immune system studies the allergen and readies itself for the next exposure by developing antibodies; you are now “sensitized” to the allergen.

May is National Asthma and Allergy Awareness month. If you are having trouble finding relief from allergies, contact Flushing Hospital’s Ambulatory Care Center to set an appointment with one of our physicians at 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.