For those with allergies to bee stings and insect venom, every trip outside can be a frightening experience. These allergy victims never know when a sting will come out of nowhere, sending them scrambling for their epi-pens and possibly even sending them to the emergency room.
The fact that bee sting allergies can impact so many aspects of someone’s life is just one reason why continuing with venom immunotherapy is so important, even in the time of COVID-19. The pandemic is truly dangerous, but there are protocols in place to keep patients safe as they continue with their therapy and learn to live without the constant fear of stinging insects and other outdoor allergens.
It is only natural to try to avoid public spaces and crowded gatherings in the age of coronavirus. Making these common sense changes and taking these precautions is a very smart thing to do, but that should not mean a disruption in your medical care or making a change to your immunotherapy.
The fact is the risk of bee stings for an allergic individual is far greater than even the risk of COVID-19 infection, and continuing therapy for these allergic reactions is actually more important than ever. With indoor spaces especially dangerous in terms of COVID-19 exposure, spending time outdoors can be a smart, and healthy, alternative, but only if you continue your venom immunotherapy treatments so you can safely spend time outside and worry less about bee stings.
Stopping your therapy too soon could have devastating consequences in the age of COVID-19, both for allergy sufferers and for the public health system as a whole. Ever since the pandemic got started, emergency rooms have been overrun, with long waits and the ever-present danger of transmission. If you stop your venom immunotherapy too soon and head outdoors before your treatments have concluded, you could be at greater risk of a serious allergic reaction – and a trip to an already overwhelmed ER.
By continuing with your venom immunotherapy treatments, you can protect yourself from the danger of bee stings and potentially dangerous reactions. Plus you will also be doing your part to protect the wider public by easing the strain on overcrowded emergency rooms and preserving valuable resources for the sickest patients.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic started raging, preventing illness was always preferable to trying to treat it after the fact. This is certainly the case when it comes to bee stings, and by continuing with their allergy treatments, those who are hypersensitive to insect venom can continue to live their lives without worrying about what is behind every bush or lurking inside every outdoor trash can.
Venom immunotherapy has proven to be remarkably effective, with as many as 98 out of 100 patients showing improvements over their non-treated counterparts. If you have been undergoing this type of therapy to deal with your insect venom allergy, now is not the time to stop. And if you have not considered this type of treatment before, now is the perfect time to learn more about it, and the more you know the easier it will be to make an informed and intelligent decision.
Pregnancy is a time of excitement, joy, but also a lot of worrying. Expecting mothers often have to deal with uncomfortable symptoms and several physical changes. Pre-existing conditions such as moderate to severe nasal allergies or asthma can further complicate things.
While a third of pregnant women experience a significant improvement in their allergies, the majority still have to deal with the same (or worse) allergic symptoms. So, a crucial question arises: Can you take your allergy medicationas usual, or should you discontinue your treatment?
Visit Your Allergist
A visit to your doctor is the first step. A Board Certified allergisthas trained to answer all your questions regarding pregnancy and allergies. Together you will review your medication, discuss the benefits as well as the potential risks (no drug is entirely risk-free), and examine all your options. Remember to always consult your allergist before taking any over-the-counter medication and follow their instructions to the letter.
Antihistamines are extremely useful for treating nasal allergies. They are occasionally prescribed during pregnancy, especially when dealing with severe symptoms that affect the mother’s health and well-being. At the same time, the doctor must assess the risk to the fetus. That’s why some physicians won’t prescribe any antihistamines during the first trimester.
Chlorpheniramine and diphenhydramine are two effective drugs commonly used for treating allergies. Since they may cause drowsiness, two newer medications, loratadine and cetirizine, are often recommended. Antihistamines are pregnancy category B medications, which means that there are good safety studies for them in pregnant animals, but, unfortunately, there are no human studies to rely on.
Oral decongestants treat allergic and non-allergic rhinitis. However, their use during pregnancy is problematic. Continuous use can prevent blood flow to the placenta and increase the risk of congenital disabilities. It’s best to avoid decongestants during the first trimester altogether. Some doctors allow minimal use when the benefits significantly outweigh the risks of the medication. Decongestants are category C drugs because animal studies have shown that they may result in adverse effects. If you have been using a specific decongestant for your allergies, check with your doctor before you continue its use.
Nasal sprays that contain steroids are generally considered safe for pregnant women, and they are a possible alternative to oral decongestants. Nevertheless, you must ask your doctor to recommend an appropriate product and its safe dosage before heading over to the pharmacy. Nonsteroidal nasal sprays are not suitable during pregnancy, and long-term use can make your congestion much worse. Nasal drops and saline sprays are safe options that can help you manage your symptoms.
If you had started your immunotherapy treatment before conceiving, you could continue to receive it under careful medical observation, provided you didn’t experience any adverse effects in the first place. Starting your allergy shots while pregnant is not a good idea, since your immune system is already undergoing many changes, and the therapy won’t have any benefits for your newborn baby.
Dealing with nasal allergy symptoms during pregnancy can be particularly stressful. However, with close monitoring and careful choices, you should expect a positive outcome for you and your baby. You should also make an effort to reduce your exposure to allergens. Try to avoid smoke, stay indoors as much as possible during days when pollen is at its peak, and keep your home allergen-free by regular and thorough cleaning (have someone else do that for you).
Don’t forget to relax and find ways to combat your stress. Nasal allergies can be very uncomfortable for you, but they don’t cause any discomfort to your baby, and they won’t keep you from having a safe, healthy pregnancy.
“Allergies During Pregnancy.” What to Expect, 29 Apr. 2019, whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/pregnancy-health/allergies-during-pregnancy/. Accessed 5 Feb. 2020.
The novel coronavirus known as COVID-19 has many symptoms and a plethora of potential complications, but at its core it is a respiratory virus. That means children and adults with asthma and chronic allergies are at higher risk from COVID-19, as the combination of two respiratory illnesses can quickly turn a mild infection into a life-threatening one.
If you or someone you love has asthma or allergies, you need to be especially vigilant about preventing COVID-19. That means limiting exposure to those outside your immediate household, wearing a mask when in public and watching closely for the symptoms of the novel coronavirus. Those early warning signs1 include:
Fever and chills
Cough and shortness of breath
Sudden loss of taste and/or smell
Tiredness or weakness
Muscle or body aches
Vomiting or nausea
Runny or stuffy nose
COVID-19 can also present with more unusual symptoms, including painful purple or blue lesions on the toes, rashes or hives, and pinkeye. If you or a family member experiences any of these symptoms, it is important to seek help, and a COVID-19 test, right away.
Higher Severity in Those with Allergies and Asthma
Keep in mind that COVID-19 can be especially severe in asthma and allergy patients, with rapid acceleration in the severity of symptoms. You should call 911 if the individual in question experiences trouble breathing or shortness of breath, persistent pain or pressure in their chest, confusion, loss of consciousness, or a bluish tint to their face, lips, or fingernails. These are all life-threatening symptoms, and help simply cannot wait.
It is not always easy to determine where a COVID-19 infection came from, since the incubation period for the virus ranges from as few as two days to as many as two weeks following exposure. What is important for asthma sufferers is not where the virus came from, but how to get the appropriate treatment and protect other vulnerable family members.
Asthma, Allergies, and COVID-19
The novel coronavirus affects asthma2 sufferers and those with allergies differently, and loved ones need to understand the distinction. Since the virus mainly infects the lungs, those with preexisting respiratory conditions, including asthma and allergies, are at a higher risk for serious complications and even death.
Family members can all do their part to protect the health and wellbeing of those with allergies, asthma, and other respiratory conditions. Steps loved ones can take include washing hands frequently, especially after coming back from running errands or picking up groceries, maintaining quality indoor air through the use of filtration devices, and making sure allergy sufferers and family members with asthma keep taking their medication. Asthma medication can improve lung function in those with the disease, and that can reduce the risk of serious complications from a COVID-19 infection.
Everyone is hoping for a quick end to the COVID-19 crisis, but for now, all asthma sufferers and those with asthma can do is protect themselves as much as possible. If you or someone you love suffers from asthma or allergies, that mean watching for early signs and symptoms, practicing good hand hygiene and ensuring medication compliance. And if you are concerned about a family member with asthma or allergies, we encourage you to contact the expert Board Certified physicians at Adult and Pediatric Allergy Associates, P.C..
Spring is here, and with it another allergy season in Arizona has begun. Our office is very busy helping existing and new allergy patients because of the wet winter and spring.
For some this is the time to enjoy nature at its best, admiring beautiful trees and tropical desert flowers in full bloom, getting outdoors to exercise, and appreciate the time spent with family.
Nonetheless, for people who suffer from allergies and asthma, spring, (and especially this spring), can be a difficult time. Grass and tree pollination cause high pollen counts that are responsible for more severe allergic symptoms and frustrating disruptions to everyday life.
Apart from ragweed, a common allergen both in Arizona and throughout the US, several other species release considerable amounts of pollen and may contribute to your hay fever or asthma.
1. Bahia Grass (Paspalum notatum)
Bahia is a grass species that produces pollen from spring through fall, and several subspecies thrive in the southeast regions of the United States. This plant causes hay fever, allergic conjunctivitis (pinkeye), and asthma to individuals with pollen sensitivity.
2. Lamb’s Quarter (Chenopodium album)
According to Pollen Library (pollenlibrary.com), lamb’s quarter is a “noxious weed,” meaning an undesirable but also potentially harmful plant. It’s considered a moderate allergen, often responsible for allergic rhinitis and asthma symptoms.
3. Kochia (Kochia scoparia)
Also known as summer cypress or burning bush, Kochia is an annual plant that can reach six feet in height. It is a common species throughout the western and northern US, and it produces large amounts of highly allergenic windborne pollen.
4. Olive Tree (Olea europaea)
Arizona’s desert climate encourages olive tree growth. While some counties only allow fruitless cultivars to reduce pollen levels, blooming trees also exist. Olive trees pollinate from the end of April until middle or late June, but it depends on the region and climate. Their dust-like pollen can cause itching, runny eyes, congestion, and dryness.
5. Rye (Lolium perenne)
Ryegrass is a short-lived perennial plant quite different from the well-known foodstuff (Secale cereale). Its pollen is one of the leading causes of type I allergies all over the world. Like several other kinds of grass, it causes respiratory issues, headaches, and fatigue.
6. Windscale Saltbush (Atriplex canescens)
Windscale is a grayish-white shrub commonly found in the Western US. Its blooming occurs during July and August, and it’s considered one of the most important allergenic weeds.
How to Reduce Pollen Exposure
-Pay close attention to the pollen forecast. Refrain from scheduling outdoor activities when pollen counts are exceptionally high, such as on dry, windy days.
-If you have to walk around to run errands, consider wearing a pollen mask. When driving, keep your car windows rolled up and the air-conditioning on to clear the air inside your vehicle.
-Change the air filter frequently because it tends to trap a lot of pollen.
-Remember to be proactive; take your allergy medication before venturing outside to prevent your symptoms from flaring up.
Dealing with seasonal allergies and asthma can be tough; they often affect productivity and quality of life. Knowing which plants you need to avoid can help you minimize your exposure to pollen. You should also consult your allergist for further tips and instructions. And most of all, stay SAFE and HEALTHY as much as you can.
More Recommended Reading For Arizona Allergy Sufferers
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 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.
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.
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.