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.
Spring has Sprung! Are desert allergies wreaking havoc? Learn here which medicine is better to use… Flonase or Zyrtec
There are several antihistamines for allergies on the market today. It can be difficult to choose the one that’s right for your needs. It’s a good idea to take a close look at each one so that you understand what it has to offer.
Two of the most commonly used allergy medications are Flonase® and Zyrtec®. Both have distinct benefits. Each one also has features that may make it a poor choice, depending on your age, health, and other important factors. Both medications are over-the-counter, questions you have concerning either one, can be addressed by your physician.
Flonase is an allergy medication that, by all reports works well in patients who choose to use it. It comes in the form of a nasal spray and has few known side effects. Because it is administered directly into the sinuses, the medication doesn’t travel widely throughout the body.
One of the main drawbacks many people report is nosebleeds. Nosebleeds become more common as usage of the medication increases. Its primary use is the control of upper respiratory allergy symptoms that include sneezing and runny nose. People who have experienced traumatic injuries to their nose or nasal passages shouldn’t use Flonase. It is also believed to arrest the growth rate in children.
Zyrtec is also one of the many popular antihistamines for allergies. It is taken once a day, allowing 24-hour relief of most allergy symptoms. Because the medication is released into the system slowly there is less risk of drowsiness. In addition to being effective at treating common allergy symptoms like sneezing, itchy eyes and a runny nose, it also helps to control skin rashes and hives. It offers quick relief of most symptoms and can be taken by both adults and children with few side effects. It can be purchased in liquid form, tablets and dissolving tablets that melt quickly when placed under the tongue. Zyrtec has very few drug interactions and can be taken along with other medications.
Which Antihistamines for Allergies Is the Best?
Both Flonase and Zyrtec are antihistamines for allergies and work well when used by the right people and in the right situations. Everyone is different when it comes to taking medications. Although Zyrtec is extremely popular, it has a tendency to decrease in effectiveness the longer it is used. If you are unsure as to which medication best suits your needs, talk to your doctor. He or she will be able to answer any question you may have and be more equipped to help you choose the right antihistamine for your particular symptoms. Working with your doctor will prevent you from taking a medication you don’t need or overusing one that you do.
If you have questions or concerns about any medication you are taking, especially antihistamines for allergies, contact the medical professionals at Adult & Pediatric Allergy Associates. They can answer your questions and get you on the medication to stop the symptoms from reappearing. Don’t risk taking the wrong medication or taking too much of the right one.
Schedule an appointment today to get the answers you need!
About our Ozone and Allergies
Ozone is a reactive gas that is composed of three oxygen atoms (O3). It can be either natural or man-made. Natural ozone is created by oxygen in the atmosphere interacting with UV radiation; this is how the Earth’s ozone layer was created. Up in the atmosphere, ozone works to filter UV radiation and keep it from reaching the Earth’s surface. Man-made ozone results from reactions between volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides. VOCs can come from chemical plants, gasoline pumps, oil-based paints, auto body shops, and print shops. Nitrogen oxides often come from high temperature combustion, sources of which include power plants, industrial furnaces and boilers, and motor vehicles.
While high ozone levels are typically associated with large urban areas, they can occur anywhere. Ozone can travel for hundreds of miles on wind patterns, settling in new areas far away from where it originated. This also means high ozone levels can occur at any time of the day or night, though they risk being the highest in the afternoon during the heat of the day.
Because of its reactive qualities, ozone that is inhaled can react with the tissues and biological molecules present in the respiratory tract. This can lead to severe inflammation of the respiratory passages, decrease lung function, and induce respiratory symptoms. Those symptoms include:
- throat irritation
- chest pain, burning, or discomfort when taking a breath
- chest tightness, wheezing, or shortness of breath
In addition, research has shown that higher levels of ozone in the air can lead to increased asthma attacks, hospitalizations, and risk of death. Ozone can trigger asthma attacks, increase sensitivity to asthma triggers, and aggravate existing asthma symptoms.
Ozone Standards Implementation Act of 2016:
With all of that in mind, let’s take a look at H.R. 4775. While its detractors call it the ‘Smoggy Skies Act’, its official name is the ‘Ozone Standards Implementation Act of 2016‘. The bill is a direct answer to the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) set by the EPA. By revising these standards as they are currently written in the Clean Air Act, this bill will do a couple of things:
First, it will delay the clean air standards set by the EPA in 2015, extending the deadline for compliance until October 26, 2024. In addition, it will delay the EPA declaring areas of the states as ‘attainment’, ‘non-attainment’, or ‘unclassifiable’ under the 2015 NAAQS regulations until 2025.
Second, it will change the EPA’s review cycle for criteria pollutants from a 5 year cycle to a 10 year cycle, with the next review not being allowed before October 26, 2025. And prior to establishing any new regulations, the EPA must meet with its advisory committee to assess the benefits and costs associated with making changes to the NAAQS.
How will H.R. 4775 Impact Allergy Sufferers:
So what will this mean if you suffer from asthma or other respiratory allergies? It means the clean air requirements that were established by the EPA in 2015 will have their implementation delayed until at least 2024. Supporters of the bill may cite the costs of retrofitting manufacturing facilities to meet these higher air quality standards on relatively short notice, and they may also cite the costs of retrofitting old factories to meet these new standards. It could potentially mean that manufacturing facilities in U.S. cities with the worst air quality will have more time to retrofit their facilities to meet the new requirements, leading to many more years of individuals suffering increased allergy and asthma attacks due to pollution. It could also potentially weaken the Clean Air Act’s limits on other potentially dangerous pollutants, such as Carbon Monoxide, lead, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide, leading to an increase in those pollutants in the air.
Info brought to you by your staff from Adult & Pediatric Allergy Associates, P.C..
House dust mite allergy is a surprisingly prevalent problem. Something like 27% of the U.S. population and 20% of the European population are what’s called skin-prick test positive for house dust mites, which is a test for sensitivity to allergens to find out if a person is likely to get that allergy.
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