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Preparing for Summer Allergies – Effective Steps for Managing Ragweed Allergies

Preparing for Summer Allergies – Effective Steps for Managing Ragweed Allergies

Allergies to ragweed pollen are very common here in Phoenix area, with about 20 percent of people developing hay fever symptoms when this weed is flowering. The most significant problems happen in late summer and early fall. Learning more about ragweed, and seeking help our allergy team will provide relief from the worst of the symptoms.

Ragweed Growth

Ragweed grows in all U.S. states but Alaska. It commonly pops up in vacant lots and along roadsides. Ragweed isn’t normally found in residential yards, but a person with hay fever should pull up weeds from the lawn before they flower if this plant does start growing there.

See also: 5 Tips for Preventing Hay Fever in Arizona

Avoiding Exposure

Unfortunately, the wind can carry this pollen a long distance because the substance is so light as compared with many other kinds of plant pollen. People can avoid some exposure to ragweed by being alert to where it grows and avoiding walking or biking by those areas if possible. Ragweed pollen counts typically are highest between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

If your home is located near land with ragweed growing on it, windows could be kept closed on breezy days. Everyone should take their shoes off when they first come inside, as they can easily bring ragweed and other pollen in on their shoes. If you have  spent much time outdoors on a day when ragweed pollen is probably prevalent, showering before bed is a good idea.


Ragweed is part of the Aster family. Although someone who is allergic to ragweed may also be allergic to asters, this person may never have symptoms because aster pollen is generally not distributed by wind, but rather by bees and other insects.


The timing for ragweed pollination depends on the region. In colder parts of the country, the plant first appears in August. Pollination may cause problems later that month and in September. In warmer realms, ragweed may start growing as early as July. Ragweed pollen can still linger into November.

Allergy Tests and Treatment

Testing should be done to confirm that the person actually is allergic to ragweed, after which time allergy shots might be advisable. This is a time-consuming process that can take more than a year for some patients, but it allows the body to gradually lose its sensitivity to a particular allergen. The body becomes tolerant of the substance and no longer produces reactive symptoms.

Concluding Thoughts

It can be difficult to avoid all exposure to ragweed pollen because of the unique characteristics of this allergen. Nevertheless, a person who is allergic to the substance can take steps to prevent symptoms by staying away from the plants as much as possible once they start flowering. Seeking help from a Board Certified Allergist is advisable if symptoms are particularly bothersome, or dangerous.


National Penicillin Day! If You Think You Have a Penicillin Allergy, it’s Time to Get Tested

National Penicillin Day! If You Think You Have a Penicillin Allergy, it’s Time to Get Tested

Penicillin Allergies- FACTS from National Penicillin Day – Sept 28th, 2018

Did you know that there is a day in September for penicillin allergies? Yes, Sept 28th, 2018 has been chosen as this special day because the reports of allergies to penicillin have been dramatically increasing!

Another few (see below for medical articles for these facts)…

Did you know millions of Americans have been MISDIAGNOSED with a penicillin allergy?

While 10% of the population believes they have one, LESS THAN 1% ACTUALLY HAS ONE!!

Penicillin may have been around since 1929, but it remains the go-to for many illnesses, from strep throat to meningitis. In some cases it is the only known, effective treatment out there.

Of course, if you have a penicillin allergy it’s vital to identify it so you can pass that information on to health providers. But if you don’t, you’re spending extra money for alternative drugs which are less effective. In some cases you’ll needlessly miss out on having access to any treatments at all.

What’s the problem with alternative drugs?

Some of alternatives may open you up to additional health problems. Many of them are broad-spectrum antibiotics. You may be aware there are both good bacteria and bad bacteria in our bodies. The broad-spectrum antibiotics kill both. This can open the door to other infections.

Penicillin is an antibiotic as well, but it doesn’t have this problem. Thus, if no allergy is present it’s usually a better choice.

What are the symptoms of a penicillin allergy?

The symptoms can be distressing and dangerous. They include:

  • Rashes or hives
  • Itching
  • Breathing problems
  • Swelling
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Anaphylaxis

It’s important to note people can also end up allergic to this drug after years of taking it safely. An allergy is nothing more than the body’s decision to start producing antibodies in response to certain substances (Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America) . Some have allergies and don’t know it, while others think they have allergies, and do not!

How can this allergy be treated?

Avoidance is the first step. If you really are allergic you need to let all your medical providers know so they can set you up with alternatives. We may also prescribe antihistamines or corticosteroids, depending on your unique needs.

How can anyone think they have an allergy if they actually don’t?

There are three ways this happens.

  1. Sometimes people show symptoms while they’re taking penicillin, but they’re coincidental. You might have had an allergic reaction to something else which was blamed on the penicillin. Your doctor may have had a “better safe than sorry” philosophy. In earlier decades the risks of the alternatives hadn’t been as extensively studied, so physicians usually felt there was no harm in switching over.
  2. Sometimes the apparent allergy was the result of a drug interaction you may have had at the time.
  3. Finally, you might well have had an allergy as a child, but that doesn’t mean you still have one. The allergy often reverses itself, especially if you’ve avoided penicillin for 10 years or more. It would be wise to get testing from a certified allergy testing clinic like ours just to be sure, so you can use this life-saving drug if you need it.

How does allergy testing work?

We will perform a scratch skin test, a blood test, or both (yes, we can even test children for allergies!). In most cases this will give us an accurate read on whether the allergy is present. In some cases we may perform a “supervised consumption” test, in which we have you take a little penicillin here at the office to see what it does. We will only do this if we judge the risks of doing so to be low.

Testing doesn’t take much time, and it doesn’t cost much! So don’t guess, don’t self-diagnose, and don’t rely on what doctors told you when you were 8.

  1. Please, make an appointment with your allergy specialist to get tested today!


Resources to Read Penicillin Allergies?

    1. Macy, Eric. Penicillin Allergy: Optimizing Diagnostic Protocols, Public Health Implications, and Future Research Needs. Current Opinion in Allergy and Clinical Immunology: August 2015 – Volume 15 – Issue 4 – p 308–313
    2. Salkind, Alan R., Paul G. Cuddy, and John W. Foxworth. “Is This Patient Allergic To Penicillin?: An Evidence-Based Analysis of the Likelihood of Penicillin Allergy.” JAMA 285.19 (2001): 2498-2505.
    3. Macy, E., & Contreras, R. (2014). Healthcare Use and Serious Infection Prevalence Associated with Penicillin “Allergy” in Hospitalized Patients: A Cohort Study. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 133(3), 790-796.
    4. Owens, R. C., Fraser, G. L., & Stogsdill, P. (2004). Antimicrobial Stewardship Programs as a Means to Optimize Antimicrobial Use. Pharmacotherapy, 24(7), 896-908.
    5. Blumenthal, Kimberly G., et al. “Addressing Inpatient Beta-Lactam Allergies: A Multihospital Implementation.” The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice 5.3 (2017): 616-625.
    6. Dellit, T. H. (2007). Summary of the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America Guidelines for Developing an Institutional Program to Enhance Antimicrobial Stewardship. Infectious Diseases in Clinical Practice, 15(4), 263-264.
    7. National Penicillin Day
    8. Allergies to Antihistamines article

AZ Seasonal Allergies – what are the tests to diagnose and get rid of them!

AZ Seasonal Allergies – what are the tests to diagnose and get rid of them!

Blood Test vs Scratch Test for Allergy Testing – what is the difference?

Orange blossoms are in bloom, and the desert plant foliage is starting to show its beauty! Unfortunately to many Phoenix area residents, this also means a lot of wheezing, coughing, sneezing and fatigue. In order to effectively treat these horrible Arizona allergy symptoms, your doctor needs to find out what you are allergic to.

This is accomplished using two types of allergy testing, a blood test or a scratch test. In some cases, both types of allergy testing may be used. These tests are relatively simple to perform and only take a short amount of time out of your day to complete. Both are extremely effective and the results provide the doctor with a wealth of information.

Allergy Blood Tests- What are they?

Blood tests use samples of your blood to determine what types of antibodies your body is creating. Antibodies are produced when you come in contact with an allergen. An allergen is something that your body is resistant to. When an allergen is present, your body immediately begins to produce antibodies. These antibodies are what triggers the allergy symptoms you feel. During an allergy blood test, your doctor will draw a sample of your blood and run it through a series of tests to find out if any antibodies are present. A blood allergy test can identify several potential allergens, including molds, trees, weeds, grasses, dust, and pet dander.

Allergy Skin Tests

Skin Allergy Testing ArizonaThere are two types of skin tests that can be performed to identify potential allergens.

1) The first, and most common of the two types of allergy testing, is the scratch test. The scratch test is normally performed on the back. The patient will be percutaneously scratched with a plastic applicator that will deposit the antigen on the skin. This type of tests offers almost immediate results. The skin will begin to react to the allergen almost immediately, causing the area to become red, inflamed and irritated.

2) The second is normally performed on the upper arm and involves the suspected allergen being injected into the skin.

Which Type of Allergy Testing Method Is Best?

According to health line, Both types of allergy testing are extremely effective and produce accurate results. The difference is in the type of allergens that a person is being tested for. If a person has primarily systemic reactions, such as those associated with foods, a blood test is normally used. While a reaction to the skin may appear, it may not be intense enough to cause the doctor to take note of it.

Although blood tests are accurate in determining some of the most common allergens reported, skin/scratch tests are commonly the method most used in determining whether they are a problem. Part of the reason for this is the immediate results produced by the scratch test. It identifies the allergen almost immediately. It also gives an indication of the severity of the allergic reaction by the intensity of reaction on the skin.

When you visit Adult & Pediatric Allergy Associates, PC, because of possible allergy symptoms, the first thing they will do is take steps to identify potential allergens.

  • This will involve an extensive Q&A about your symptoms and then allergy testing.
  • Once they understand what you are allergic to, a treatment plan will be created and your symptoms will be treated.

Allergies can have a direct impact on your quality of life, especially if they are severe. Don’t waste another gorgeous spring day in Arizona feeling miserable. Please call 602-242-4592 and schedule an evaluation today at one of our 5 clinics to find out what is causing your allergies and how they can be treated.

It’s time to get your allergies under control and begin to live your life again!


5 Ways to Manage Your Seasonal Allergies Naturally

5 Ways to Manage Your Seasonal Allergies Naturally

The Arizona weather is getting cooler and many of us are excited to be outside again! However, the cooler weather and reseeding of the lawns means that allergy season is starting. And how frustrating when you’re stuck inside wheezing, sneezing, and sniffling when you should be outside living life to the fullest.

Allergies are one of the most elusive health problems out there. Most people suffer from some sort of allergy, but researchers still aren’t completely sure what causes them. Or better yet, how to cure them.

Are we relegated to suffering and hoping that science makes a breakthrough someday?

The good news is there are ways to manage your allergies and reduce your symptoms so you can start living life again.

nasal rinsing

Nasal Rinsing

Nasal rinsing, also known as nasal irrigation, is when you flush out your nasal cavity with a saline solution. By doing a nasal rinse you clear out your nose and sinuses of excess mucus and allergens that have built up over time.

There are many tools out there that help you with nasal rinsing. The most popular method is to use a neti pot. A neti pot is a small pot with a spout that’s made specifically for nasal rinsing.

Nasal rinsing is especially helpful for people suffering from chronic sinusitis though anyone can benefit from it.

air filter

Air Filters

Buying an air filter for your home is an easy way to get some allergy relief. You can just set it up once and then forget about it. Since the air in your home will be cleaner when using an air filter your body won’t be as overloaded when you go outside.

Think of your allergies like water pouring into a cup. The symptoms start showing up once the water overflows. By using an air filter you’re increasing the length of time it takes to trigger your symptoms.

Air filters can range from cheap to expensive. A high-quality air filter can be a great investment if you suffer from severe allergies and are dying to get relief.

tea tree oil

Essential Oils

Essential oils such as tea tree oil, peppermint oil, and eucalyptus oil have properties that reduce the symptoms of allergies. The oils reduce inflammation and help clear away excess mucus.

There are different ways of using essential oils, but aromatherapy is the easiest way. For aromatherapy you can either use a diffuser or massage it into your skin like you would with a lotion.

There are benefits to both methods, though using a diffuser is less work and has the pleasant side effect of making your house smell amazing.

honey from local bees

Local Honey

Honey from local bees is made with pollen the bees collect from the local area. When you eat the honey, you’re ingesting a small and manageable amount of the allergens.

Over time you’ll build up a tolerance to the allergens used in the honey. Think of it like a low powered and natural version of allergy shots. This is a fun one because it’s not only healthy, but tasty, too.

The catch here is that the honey must be local. Otherwise it won’t have as many allergens that are specific to your area. Not everybody is lucky enough to have this option available, but definitely take advantage of it if you have a bee farm nearby.

Gluten Free OatsGluten Free

Studies have shown that gluten causes inflammation and may be linked to allergies and other health issues.

The theory is that gluten is a large molecule that’s hard for your body to break down. This causes additional stress on your body and can sometimes overwhelm it.

You don’t have to go completely gluten free if it sounds too intimidating to you. Try gradually cutting down on it over time and see if you notice any positive changes. If so, continue cutting out more gluten until you’re completely gluten free.

These suggestions aren’t a complete fix by any means, but besides non-organic options such as allergy shots and allergy medicines, these are some the best natural treatments we have until science comes up with a permanent solution.

Learn more about allergy and asthma treatment by booking an appointment at one of our 5 Valley-wide Allergy Clinics.


Shellfish Allergies in Children

Shellfish Allergies in Children

Shellfish and sushi consumption is high in the Asia-Pacific, Phoenix and growing all over the U.S. Unfortunately, reports of allergy responses from shellfish have also increased. Shellfish allergies are common in adults compared to children; and in male children compared to female ones. In addition, if your family has a history of shellfish allergies, your child may be more likely to be allergic too.

Some of the shellfish causing the allergic reactions are crustaceans and mollusks such as shrimp, crab, lobster, clam, oyster and mussel though prawns/ shrimp was most commonly implicated in shellfish allergies which are commonly found in sushi rolls and at many restaurants.

Tropomyosin is the allergen in shellfish causing this immune reaction among other proteins such as arginine kinase. Shellfish proteins can come in contact with your child through ingestion, inhalation – of fumes while cooking – or even skin contact.

Allergy reactions vary by age and even by region. Symptoms of shellfish allergy are hives, eczema, wheezing, dizziness, gastrointestinal symptoms. More severe anaphylactic reactions can cause breathing obstruction, dizziness and shock with high pulse and dropping blood-pressure which can be fatal.



It is important to differentiate allergy reaction from shellfish food poisoning. Toxins stored within the shellfish – domoic acid, brevetoxins, saxitoxins, azaspiracids, biotoxins and bacterial/viral toxins – can affect your nervous, gastrointestinal and other systems.

Allergic reactions are therefore verified using a variety of tests including skin prick testing.


Like most food allergies, avoidance of the allergy-causing food is suggested.

  • You should take care to avoid all shellfish for your child; check with your doctor/dietician.
  • Eating in restaurants where the oil or vessels/surfaces may have come in contact with shellfish can cause allergic reactions. You may decide to avoid restaurants where shellfish or fish are on the menu.
  • Carrying and knowing how to use an epinephrine auto injector may be useful; teach your child this, once he or she is a bit older
  • Doctors also suggest introducing shellfish earlier – to babies as young as 6 months – as this may actually reduce chances of allergies. Monitor your child after introducing the new food and if there are no adverse reactions; include the new food as part of his or her regular diet.