Phoenix Allergies are on the Rise Right Now
With summer heat moving on and our Arizona “cool” fall is approaching, another allergy season is soon be upon us!
Unfortunately, spring is not the only time when asthma and allergies are on the rise. Our late summer rain in July and August means more grasses and weeds and, consequently, an increased pollen count this fall and winter. Moreover, temperature inversions contribute to air pollution, another factor that affects allergies like the common hay fever. At the same time, there’s an increase in asthma symptoms that coincides with our children going back to school.
Allergies and asthma have undoubtedly become more prevalent during the last few years. Major cities are turning into allergy hot spots, and Phoenix is no exception. In fact, in extensive study of allergies across the country in 2011, Phoenix ranked the second worst city for allergen sensitizations, right after Dallas. The allergens examined included food, the common ragweed, house dust mites, mold, and pets.
Why an Allergy and Asthma Check Up is so Important Now
When it comes to allergies and asthma, being proactive is crucial. It’s important to remember that allergies are not static-they evolve over time and are greatly influenced by lifestyle changes and age. Nevertheless, with the right preparation, you will be able to treat your symptoms effectively or prevent them altogether in some cases.
Visiting your allergist right now will give you a chance to:
1) evaluate the effectiveness of your treatment,
2) adjust your medication if necessary, and
3) update your medical history.
Children can also benefit from a check up right as school is starting
Finally, this is a great time for first visits if you suspect you have an allergy that will trouble you as soon as allergy season hits!
How to Prepare for Your Visit to the Allergist’s Office
Before your appointment, talk to your doctor about any medication you might be taking. ALERT: Antihistamines interfere with allergy testing, so the general recommendation is to avoid them for seven days prior to testing. However, this may vary for specific medicines, so remember to follow your doctor’s specific instructions.
Psychiatric medications are another category that might affect skin tests. However, you should never stop taking your prescription without your psychiatrist’s permission. Finally, if you take beta-blockers, which might make testing riskier, your allergist will consult your cardiologist to have you stop them for a few days right before your visit.
There are no special preparations for the actual visit, however, it’s a good idea to wear comfortable clothing to make skin testing on your arm or back easier. Remember to provide your doctor with as much information as possible about changes to your symptoms, the effectiveness of your medication, or anything else relevant. Also, think about any questions you might have and prepare them beforehand. Don’t hesitate to ask for additional information or any educational materials that might be available for patients (which a good allergy specialist should provide).
What to Expect at the Allergist’s Office
Your first visit to a certified Arizona allergist will include a physical examination and communicating your complete medical history. This is a crucial step and you should try to be as thorough as possible. Remember to bring any relevant medical documents with you. Be sure to mention any childhood allergies, your current symptoms, as well as any medication you might be taking. A detailed picture of your condition will help your doctor determine which allergens may be responsible and test you specifically for them.
Allergy tests are suitable for people of all ages, including children. Skin tests are by far the most common. They are reliable, and provide fast results. Examples include the skin prick test, the intradermal, and the patch test. Blood tests are also available for investigating allergies, but these are more expensive and you will have to wait several days for your results. Nonetheless, blood testing is useful occasionally. When allergen exposure during a skin test could result in a severe reaction, when a patient suffers from a severe skin condition like eczema, or they cannot stop taking medication prior to testing, blood tests are a good alternative.
Why Repeating Your Allergy Test is Important
Your doctor may recommend retesting in some cases. If, for example, you are on medication and your symptoms return, change or worsen, or if you develop symptoms in a new season, you will most likely need to repeat your tests. Furthermore, people often develop new allergies over time, so it is necessary to identify these new triggers and pick up anything that previous tests might have missed. Another appropriate time for retesting is before beginning an immunotherapy plan. Your doctor will most likely want to check again for specific allergens before administering allergy shots.
Dealing with allergies and asthma is not just about treating the symptoms. A well-thought plan designed by you and your doctor will keep you one step ahead of your allergies. With the right preparation, you will be able to deal with this fall’s allergies and improve your quality of life significantly. So, don’t delay your appointment with your allergist this summer.
WATCH – Why allergy season gets worse every year
“Allergy and Asthma in the Southwestern United States”. allergy.peds.arizona.edu, University of Arizona, Health Sciences Center, Sept. 2012, allergy.peds.arizona.edu/southwest/advice_fall.html. Accessed 5 July 2018.
“Allergy Testing”. acaai.org, American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, acaai.org/allergies/treatment/allergy-testing. Accessed 5 July 2018.
“Allergy Testing”. asthma.net, Health Union, asthma.net/diagnosis/allergy-testing/. Accessed 5 July 2018.
“Allergy Tests and Asthma”. webmd.com, Webmd, webmd.com/asthma/guide/allergy-tests-and-asthma#1. Accessed 5 July 2018.
“How often should I be retested for allergies?”. acaai.org, American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, acaai.org/resources/connect/ask-allergist/Allergy-Testing. Accessed 5 July 2018.
Nath, Ishani. “How to Prepare For Your First Visit to the Allergist”. allergicliving.com, Allergic Living, 4 May 2017, allergicliving.com/2017/05/04/how-to-prepare-for-your-first-visit-to-the-allergist/. Accessed 5 July 2018.
Quest Diagnostics Health Trends. Allergies Across America: The Largest Study of Allergy Testing in the United States, 2011 [online], questdiagnostics.com/dms/Documents/Other/2011_QD_AllergyReport.pdf. Accessed 5 July 2018.
“Will my medication affect the results of my skin test?”. acaai.org, American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, acaai.org/resources/connect/ask-allergist/Allergy-Testing. Accessed 5 July 2018.
Allergies and asthma are becoming increasingly common and affect a substantial portion of the population around the globe, and especially in Arizona. Even in cases of a mild allergy, proper diagnosis and management are essential. Unfortunately, the prevalence of specific misconceptions prevents many people from getting the care they need.
Here are 10 common myths about asthma and allergies you might have thought were true.
1. Allergies are harmless
Allergies are a serious problem that has become more prominent in recent years. No fewer than one in five people will develop an allergy at some point during their lifetime. If left untreated, allergies can have a very negative impact on quality of life. Allergic rhinitis, for instance, causes fatigue, sleepiness, and irritability. Sufferers often find it hard to concentrate, and this, in turn, affects their work or school performance. Furthermore, allergies to foods, drugs, and insects can cause anaphylaxis. This systemic allergic reaction can potentially be life-threatening.
2. Asthma is not fatal
Unfortunately, this is not the case. Asthma deaths have been on the increase recently. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, 10 people die of asthma each day in the country. Adults are four times more likely to have a fatal asthma attack than children. In 2015, asthma accounted for 3,615 deaths, many of which proper care and treatment could have prevented.
3. Asthma is a strictly emotional disorder; it’s “all in your head”
Acute emotional stress can trigger an asthma attack. That is not, however, the real cause of the condition. An asthmatic person has hyperactive airways, which become highly sensitive to environmental changes or stimuli. Some scientists believe that these triggers cause an abnormal reaction to sensory nerves in the lungs, which results in coughing and wheezing. The airway muscles contract and swell as the attack progresses.
4. Asthma does not require any medical treatment.
Close monitoring and regular follow-ups with a specialist are crucial, even if the symptoms are mild. The right medication will also prevent inflammation and damage to the lungs. Prevention is the most effective medicine, however, and drugs could be unnecessary in the mildest of cases or when the asthmatic person avoids the triggers that cause asthma, such as pollen, pets, or cold air. These preventive measures are often too restrictive or even impossible to adopt.
5. Allergies and asthma are curable
While there are several useful treatments available, there is not, at the moment, any permanent cure for allergies or asthma. Immunotherapy (allergy shots) is an effective way to treat specific allergies, such as allergic rhinitis (hay fever), asthma, and stinging insect allergy. However, not every allergic person responds to immunotherapy, and there is the possibility of relapse after the end of the treatment. Moreover, this type of therapy cannot treat food allergies yet.
6. All children will eventually outgrow their allergies and asthma
For some children, their asthma symptoms improve or even disappear during puberty, the most severe cases, however, can last for many years, well into adulthood. A large percentage of children with atopic dermatitis (eczema) also improve as teenagers, although they may have lifelong issues with soap and skincare products. In the case of allergic rhinitis, an 80 percent of the children still have symptoms 10 years later. Seasonal allergies are hard to outgrow, but a person’s symptoms may lessen with time.
7. If you relocate, your allergies and asthma will disappear
Moving to another climate might offer relief to some allergy sufferers. If high humidity, molds or cold air trigger your allergy, you may benefit from a warm, dry environment. The air quality in your area is also relevant. Pollution has a negative impact on allergies and could even set off an asthma attack. The bad news is, even if you relocate, your immune response will not change. You might still be exposed and react to new triggers. Allergic people tend to develop new allergies, so a new environment comes with its own risks.
8. Asthmatics should not do any form of exercise or participate in sports
Exercising is essential for everyone’s health and well-being, including people who have asthma. Physical activity strengthens your heart and respiratory system, improves your immunity, and battles stress and anxiety. Because asthmatics greatly benefit from the right kind of exercise, they should engage in it regularly; however it is true that exercise can create an asthma attack.
9. If you are continuously exposed to animals, you will become desensitized to them
In reality, if you are allergic to individual animals and your exposure increases, it is likely that your sensitivity will worsen. In some cases, if you already have an allergy and come in regular contact with indoor pets, you eventually become allergic to them as well. The best solution for relieving your symptoms would be avoiding contact with said pets altogether.
10. Some pet breeds are better for people with allergies
While the amount of allergens that a specific animal can produce varies, all members of a species can potentially be allergenic but some pets are none to be less allergen producing than others (Read this blog for details). In the case of cats, most of the allergen comes from the sebaceous glands in their skin. Dog allergens, on the other hand, are mainly found in the animal’s saliva. Even if a pet doesn’t shed hair, the allergens could still be carried into the house by dust particles. Most specialists agree that people with pet allergies shouldn’t keep them in their homes. Other animals, such as guinea pigs, mice, horses, and even exotic pets like iguanas can also trigger allergies, so there is no genuinely hypoallergenic pet.
When it comes to allergies and asthma, myths, misconceptions, and half-truths abound. It is essential for everyone, and especially for allergic people and their families to get reliable information from reputable sources, such as official allergy organizations and specialists. This will help you separate the scientifically proven from the disproven facts, and possibly improve your quality of life it the long run.
Related: Asthmatic Allergy
“Asthma Facts and Figures.”www.aafa.org, AAFA (Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America), February 2018, http://www.aafa.org/page/asthma-facts.aspx. Accessed 18 March 2018.
“Common Myths About Allergy and Asthma Exposed.” www.allergy.org.au, ASCIA (Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy), https://www.allergy.org.au/patients/about-allergy/common-myths-about-allergy-and-asthma-exposed. Accessed 18 March 2018.
Gupta, Sanjay. “Myths and Facts About Allergic Asthma.” www.everydayhealth.com, Ziff Davis, LLC, 27 Feb. 2014. https://www.everydayhealth.com/hs/allergic-asthma-in-adults/sanjay-gupta/allergic-asthma-myths-facts/. Accessed 18 March 2018.
Lipkowitz, Myron A., and Tova Narava. The Encyclopedia of Allergies. Facts on File, Inc., 2001 (second edition), pp. 35, 179-180.
If your child has been diagnosed with atopic dermatitis (eczema), food allergies, asthma, or other conditions, it can be tough to understand how these conditions interact with each other, and how they came to be in the first place.
As a parent, having a child with a medical condition can be stressful, and we are here to help! Our team of experienced and highly-trained professionals can help you navigate daily life and offer better insights into the causes and remedies of your unique symptoms and condition.
Understanding Childhood Allergies
Pediatric allergies can range from atopic dermatitis (eczema) to asthma, hay fever, and food allergies. In recent studies, it was found that if your child was diagnosed with eczema while they were an infant, it was highly possible that this would progress into other conditions in later childhood. These conditions include:
- Allergic Rhinitis (hay fever)
- Food Allergies
Does Eczema cause other Problems?
One study investigated whether early allergy sensitivities increased the progression to other conditions. What they ultimately found was that children who developed eczema during infancy and who also had allergic sensitizations (such as an allergy to food) were 7 times more likely to develop other conditions, like asthma, in later childhood. They also concluded that children with dual conditions were also more likely to develop other conditions such as food allergies and allergic rhinitis (hay fever) for example.
However, this study also concluded that if a child developed eczema without any other allergen sensitivities by their first birthday, they would be at a lower risk of developing asthma or other allergy-associated sensitivities in later childhood.
These conditions are thought to be caused by an irregularity of the gene encoding filaggrin, which is an important skin protein. Unfortunately, this type of genetic testing isn’t readily available in most clinical practices, so alternative approaches for diagnosis may be needed.
What Can Be Done for Children?
Here at Adult and Pediatric Allergy Associates, we understand the discomfort and anxiety that allergies such as atopic dermatitis can bring into your and your children’s lives. Our desert environment, along with foods and even a lack of sufficient allergy awareness plays a major role in the rising number of allergic attacks throughout Arizona. And as you can see, the more we prevent allergies from starting, the better it can be for our growing children!
Our top-rated Phoenix allergy and asthma specialists can help you and your child better understand and manage your allergy symptoms, including the underlying causes and triggers with comprehensive allergy testing here in the Valley. With over 20 years of experience and 5 clinics across the valley, you can be sure to find the absolute best treatment plans for patients of all ages.
If you are tired of the effects of persistent allergic reactions contact us at 602-242-4592 today and discover Adult & Pediatric Allergy Associates, P.C. can help!
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, 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Asthma is a chronic disease of the lungs in which inflammation causes the airways to narrow, making breathing more difficult.
The preceding info may seem relatively simple but actually, asthma is a complicated, inconvenient, and sometimes fatal disease if not treated. The best way to understand what asthma is understanding its pathology.
- The respiratory system is in charge of taking in oxygen and eliminating carbon dioxide. It uses a series of organs, especially the lungs, to supply every cell in the body with oxygen. That oxygen is of vital importance to every cell in the body.
Asthma causes parts of your respiratory system to spasm, which makes it hard to bring oxygen in and eliminate carbon dioxide.
- Spasms are the involuntary muscle constrictions. In an asthmatic person the tubes that bring oxygen into the lungs, also known as Bronchi, spasm and become partially blocked by mucus. That mucus is a result of the body’s autoimmune response, otherwise known as an allergic reaction.
- An allergic reaction happens when the body’s immune system tries to eliminate a harmful agent, a pathogen. Often the immune system ‘overreacts’ to a pathogen. In layman’s terms; it eliminates a virtually harmless pathogen and makes you very uncomfortable in the process.
This condition makes the intake of oxygen difficult because an allergic reaction, or similar hypersensitivity, causes the tubes that bring oxygen to the lungs to spasm and narrow. This decreases the amount of air that can get to the lungs and be used by the body.
Management of Asthma
Asthma is a chronic disease that can be controlled to allow normal daily activities. By controlling your asthma every day, you can prevent serious symptoms and take part in all activities. If you asthma is not well controlled, you are likely to have symptoms that can make you miss school or work and keep you from doing other things you enjoy. Although there is no cure, here are some important prevention strategies
- Recognize attacks early.
- Take medication as directed.
- Avoid tobacco smoke.
- Identify and avoid triggers.
- Talk with your asthma specialist to find ways to improve your health.
- Get the influenza vaccination (pneumonia shot) every five years.
If any questions or concerns, please contact our office for an appointment. We have 5 Board Certified clinics in the Phoenix Metro to serve you!