A Survival Guide to Ragweed Allergy Season

Are you one of the many who struggle from ragweed allergies? You’re not alone. Almost 23 million people in the United States suffer from. Most ragweed pollen blooms mid-August, but it may bloom as early as mid-July. Ragweed allergies are commonly associated with symptoms such as itchy, watery eyes, a runny nose, congestion, poor sleep quality, sneezing, and coughing. You can minimize these effects by starting to prepare for it now!

7 Tips for Ragweed Season:

1.Check the pollen counts for your area.

Try to avoid being outdoors on days with high pollen counts. Stay indoors with the windows closed.

2.Start taking prescribed or over-the-counter medications two weeks before ragweed season starts.

In order for your allergy medications to work effectively, you should start taking them about two weeks before ragweed season begins. Talk to your health care provider to see which medications are best for you.

3.Call your doctor now if you’re out of prescription medication refills.

Don’t wait until you start experiencing symptoms. Patients often think they shouldn’t see their provider until they start feeling miserable. This is NOT true. Call before you feel symptomatic so you can be evaluated and tested for allergies. Allergy tests range from skin testing to a simple blood test. Call now and set up an appointment!

4.Keep windows closed at home and in the car.

We all love to enjoy the nice weather and have the windows open but leaving the windows open allows the pollen to get into your home or car.

5.Bathe your pets frequently.

Our pets love playing outside but they end up tracking large amounts of pollen into the home. Bathe your pets frequently to prevent unwanted tracking of pollen.

6.Shower before bed.

We are no different than our pets. Throughout the day we collect pollen and track it into our homes. Shower off before bed so that you don’t bring pollen into the bed at night. This includes washing your face and hair so pollen doesn’t end up on your pillow.

7.Think about starting sublingual immunotherapy.

Sublingual immunotherapy can significantly reduce your experienced symptoms and provide long-term relief! Typically, you want to start immunotherapy prior to the height of the allergy season that affects you the most. However, the sooner the better in order to get the long-term effects of immunotherapy.

Don’t wait until it’s too late! Get ahead of ragweed season and get back to enjoying what you love doing!

How to Combat Dust Mites in Your Mattress

Dust mites are related to spiders and scorpions and look like them too. Millions of them can live on your mattress at a time, even if you can’t see any of them with the naked eye. Dust mites can be found particularly in mattresses, carpets, and upholstery. Even though they are hard to detect and to kill, there are proactive measures you can take to prevent dust mites, and if you already have a dust mite infestation, there are still actions you can take to limit their impact and get rid of them.

Do not confuse dust mites with bed bugs. The major difference is that dust mites feed on dead human skin cells and pet dander, while bed bugs are parasites, attaching to your body and feeding on your blood. Dust mites are still dangerous too though, besides it being creepy just knowing they are in your mattress while you are sleeping. They can impact you if you have allergies or cause you to develop a new allergy. Dust mites when airborne can trigger asthma attacks, and the dust mite allergy can also trigger allergic rhinitis and eczema. Common symptoms include sneezing; runny or stuffy nose; red, itchy, or teary eyes; wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and tightness in chest; and itching.

So why are mattresses a common breeding ground for dust mites? Since humans shed 1.5 grams of dead skin cells a day and we spend a third of our lives on our mattresses, you can do the math! And by the way, just that 1.5 grams of dead skin cells each day feeds over a million dust mites a day. Yikes. As you can see, our mattresses are a playground for these little pests. Humidity and the perspiration your body causes when sleeping also contributes to the ideal dust mite habitat, warm and damp.

The best thing you can do is clean your mattress with specific techniques and pick the mattress that is best for someone with allergies. Latex mattresses tend to be a good option because they are hypoallergenic and naturally resist microbes. In fact, latex foam is also more breathable than traditional foam, trapping less heat, where a cooler environment curbs the growth and proliferation of dust mites. But whether you own a latex mattress or not, there are ways to maintain your mattress to keep it dust mite free.

Each morning, wait a while to make your bed. Yes, we just gave you permission to avoid this chore (but not for long). This gives your mattress time to air out. Every couple weeks, strip your bed entirely to let it breathe. While your at it, run the vacuum over the surface. When properly maintained, a mattress can last up to 7-10 years. If your mattress is creeping up in age, you may consider choosing a new mattress.  We hate to break it to you, but if you’ve had your mattress for more than 5 years, there are most definitely dust mites, bacteria, and other microorganisms that have crept their way into your mattress layers – no matter how clean you think you are.

Your sleep health is just as important important was your overall health. Make sure your sleeping structure is helping you achieve the best sleep possible, not making you sick.

Written By Guest Blogger: Lisa Smalls

Five Tips to Make Traveling with a Food Allergy Easier

As the holiday season quickly approaches, you might be thinking about making some travel plans. Maybe you’re thinking about traveling to a place that’s familiar, or want to catch some sight-seeing at a place far away.  Either way, it’s not always easy to travel and manage your food allergy, while enjoying local cuisine, but these 5 tips can make it a little easier for you.

  1. Carry a food allergy card in multiple languages

If you’re traveling somewhere where people may not share the same language as you it can be beneficial to carry a card that lists your food allergies in the language or languages spoken at your destination. Make sure that your cards clearly list which foods you can’t eat, rather than just stating what you’re allergic to.

  1. Order with extreme caution

According to Dr. Alyson Pidich, the medical director of the Ash Center, in New York City, and a food allergy specialist, you shouldn’t assume that what you’re eating is safe. Just because your trigger food isn’t listed on an ingredient list, doesn’t mean you should just assume that its fine. Certain foods and drinks, in particular, including sauces, salad dressings, soups and cocktails hide common allergens such as wheat, nuts, dairy and shellfish. It’s always better to be extra cautious.

  1. Bring your own food stash

It’s a smart idea to pack plenty of snacks and a few meal replacement options on your trip, if you can. There’s nothing worse than going hungry on your trip because you can’t find enough safe food to eat. Good options to pack are nonperishable foods like protein shakes, jerky, dried fruits, or nuts (if you aren’t allergic to nuts).

  1. Consider booking a hotel room or a Airbnb with a kitchen

Having access to a kitchen means you can prepare some meals for yourself. This also cuts down on the stress of not being able to find allergy-safe food to eat.

  1. Don’t forget your allergy medicine

Even if your food allergy isn’t severe, you shouldn’t leave home without your allergy medicine. Don’t assume you can buy what you need locally, depending on where you go. It’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it. You should also make sure to familiarize yourself with your destination’s rules and regulations about prescription (and nonprescription) medication, so you’ll make it through customs with your medicine.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/28/travel/five-tips-to-make-traveling-with-a-food-allergy-easier.html

5 Steps to Help Make Dining Out with Allergies Easier

Dining out can be very difficult for individuals with food allergies. A new study found that the more steps you take to protect yourself from exposure, the less likely you are to have an allergic reaction.

The researchers asked 39 people with allergies (or their parents) about 25 behaviors people might do before eating out. Nineteen of those surveyed had experienced a food allergy reaction while dining at a restaurant. After examining the results, the researchers observed a few common strategies that people used to successfully avoid an allergic reaction while eating at a restaurant.

The top 5 strategies included:

  • Speaking to the waiter on arrival
  • Ordering food with simple ingredients
  • Double-checking food before eating
  • Avoiding restaurants with higher likelihood of contamination
  • Reviewing ingredients on a restaurant website

https://consumer.healthday.com/respiratory-and-allergy-information-2/food-allergy-news-16/dining-out-with-allergies-is-tough-but-these-steps-can-help-739703.html

FDA: Make Sure Epi-Pens Don’t Get Stuck in Tube

According to manufacturer Pfizer Inc. and distributor Mylan, due to a defective label, a small number of EpiPen 0.3 mg and EpiPen Jr 0.15 mg auto-injectors and their authorized generics do not slide out of the tube easily. There are no issues with the device or the epinephrine inside.

People with an EpiPen should check to make sure it is not stuck in the carrier tube, according to a new warning from the manufacturer and federal health officials.

“It is vital for lifesaving products to work as designed in an emergency situation, and patients and caregivers should inspect their epinephrine auto-injector prior to needing it to ensure they can quickly access the product,” the Food and Drug Administration said in a safety alert.

Anyone with an auto-injector that does not easily slide out or one that has a label that only is partially adhered to the auto-injector should contact MylanCustomer Relations at 800-796-9526.

 

http://www.aappublications.org/news/2018/11/07/epipens110718

New Concerns About Sesame Allergies

Sesame could become the newest allergen added to the list of foods required to be named on labels, US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb announced Monday. There are currently eight major food allergens that must be declared on US labeling using their common names: milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soybeans. These eight foods have accounted for over 90% of documented serious food allergies in the country when the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act was passed in 2004, which requires the clear labeling of ingredients.  Now the FDA is launching a formal request for information as it considers making sesame the ninth on the list.

“Unfortunately, we’re beginning to see evidence that sesame allergies may be a growing concern in the US,” Gottlieb said. “A handful of studies, for example, suggest that the prevalence of sesame allergies in the US is more than 0.1 percent, on par with allergies to soy and fish.” Over 300,000 Americans are currently affected by sesame allergies.

Sesame reactions vary from person to person and can be caused by as little as one or two sesame seeds.  Symptoms may vary but can include hives, dizziness, itching, stomach pain, nausea/vomiting, wheezing and breathing problems.  In severe cases, there is a risk of anaphylaxis or even death.  The possibility of such severe reactions is why the FDA believes that the labeling requirements for sesame need to change.

Currently, there are no food labeling requirements for sesame.  The issue for consumers is that sesame could be in an ingredient list under a word like tahini or a generic term like ‘natural flavor’.  Even the most careful consumer would have difficulty spotting the allergen under current labeling requirements.

The FDA is asking for information, specifically from epidemiologists, nutritionists, allergy researchers and physicians, “so we can learn more about the prevalence and severity of sesame allergies in the US, as well as the prevalence of sesame-containing foods sold in this country. These include foods that, under current regulations, may not be required to disclose sesame as an ingredient.”  The FDA is accepting comments from October 30 – December 31, 2018.

7 Allergy-Free Halloween Candies

One in every 13 children has a food allergy, so this Halloween consider passing out some allergy-free candy. The following treats are all free of the eight most common food allergens: milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish.

  1. Sour Patch Kids
  2. Swedish Fish
  3. Dum Dum’s Lollipops
  4. Dum Dum’s Gummies
  5. Skittles
  6. Starbursts
  7. Lifesavers

 

Source: https://community.kidswithfoodallergies.org/blog/2018-allergy-friendly-halloween-candy-guide

Great News for Patients-Extended Expiration Dates for Select Lots of EpiPen 0.3 mg Auto-Injectors

On Aug. 21, 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced to extend the expiration dates of specific lots of EpiPen 0.3 mg Auto-Injectors and its authorized generic version. Patients should have confidence in using the products from these particular lots as Pfizer works to stabilize supply, which is anticipated in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Pfizer and Mylan’s recommendation to extend the expiration dates of specific lots, and the FDA’s decision were based on a careful review of data provided by Pfizer. We believe the extension of the expiration date will temporarily address patients’ access to and use of EpiPen 0.3 mg Auto-Injectors, and its authorized generic, particularly during back-to-school season as demand increases.

The affected lots, which have current expiration dates between April 2018 and December 2018, are listed in tables in the expandable sections below and can also be found on FDA’s website. The extension of the expiration dates does not apply to EpiPen Jr (epinephrine injection, USP) 0.15 mg Auto-Injectors and its authorized generic version. Patients should continue to adhere to the manufacturer’s expiry date labeled on EpiPen Jr 0.15 mg and Epinephrine Injection, USP Auto-Injectors 0.15 products.

https://www.epipen.com/en/about-epipen-and-generic/supply-information

Southwest Airlines Will Stop Serving Peanuts

Starting August 1, Southwest Airlines will stop serving peanuts aboard their flights.  “To ensure the best on-board experience for everyone, especially for customers with peanut-related allergies, we’ve made the difficult decision to discontinue serving peanuts on all flights beginning Aug. 1”, the airline stated. The airline said it will continue to serve complementary pretzels and other snacks on longer routes, which it hopes “will please customers who might be nostalgic or sad to see peanuts go.” The Food and Drug Administration reports that severe allergic reactions to food are the cause of 150 deaths a year in the United States and 2,000 hospitalizations. Southwest is joining American and United Airlines to not serve peanuts on their flights.

 

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/07/09/southwest-airlines-is-getting-rid-of-peanuts.html

Sunscreen Benefits and Tips

This summer has turned out to be quite a hot one for most areas throughout the country. That summer sun that you think about all year is accompanied by a risk of harmful UV rays. These UV rays can cause short-term and long-term damage to your skin. These risks can include sunburn, signs of aging and increased risk of skin cancer. But yet, even with these risks people still seem to leave the sunscreen home, hoping to get a tan. This is not recommended.

You should apply sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before sun exposure, then wait for 10 to 20 minutes before getting dressed. It is also recommended to reapply sunscreen at least every two hours, or after every water exposure or sweating even if they are labeled water-resistant. Studies show that SPF 30 sunscreen blocks 97% of UV rays. An increase above SPF 50 only slightly increases the effectiveness. The most important thing is to keep wearing the sunscreen and reapplying.

 

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/sun-protection-appropriate-sunscreen-use-2018062114114