Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Your New Year's Celebration can cause more than a Hangover

Press release from the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology

MILWAUKEE – Toasting the New Year is a tradition that can cause more than a headache the next day. For some people, drinking may also trigger allergy and asthma symptoms, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI). “It is usually not the alcohol itself that produces the reaction. It is most likely ingredients, such as sulfur dioxide (metabisulfite), yeast and additives,” according to Clifford W. Bassett, MD, FAAAAI, Chair of the Public Education Committee of the AAAAI.

The key preservative in wine is sulfur dioxide. It is naturally produced by wine yeast in small quantities during fermentation. Sulfur dioxide is also used as a preservative in foods such as dried fruits, baked goods, condiments, canned foods, shellfish, frozen shrimp, canned tomatoes, frozen potatoes and fruit juices. If you tend to have a reaction to these foods, you may also experience it with wine.

Histamine can be another culprit. Bacteria and yeast in the alcohol generate it. Histamine is naturally released by the body during an allergic reaction so even if you don’t have an actual allergy, drinking alcoholic beverages may cause a runny or stuffy nose, itchy, runny eyes or worsening of asthma symptoms. Red wines often have a larger amount of histamines than white wines.

If you think you are allergic to beer, it is most likely the barley, corn, wheat or rye in beer that may cause similar allergic reactions.

If you suffer from allergies or asthma, visit www.aaaai.org for more tips and information that can help you have a happy, healthy new year.

The AAAAI (www.aaaai.org) represents allergists, asthma specialists, clinical immunologists, allied health professionals and others with a special interest in the research and treatment of allergic and immunologic diseases. Established in 1943, the AAAAI has nearly 6,500 members in the United States, Canada and 60 other countries. To locate an allergist/immunologist, visit the AAAAI Physician Referral Directory at www.aaaai.org/physref.

Dr. Druce is a Fellow of the Academy and member of the Rhinosinusitis Committee.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Coping with Allergies During the Holidays

For asthma and allergy patients, the holidays present a variety of challenges to maintaining good health. Enjoying the holidays is easier when you plan ahead so you can look back on this special time with joy. These tips are from the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America.

  • Clean your chimney before the first holiday fire
  • Check fireplace vents and secure fireplace doors to reduce smoke entering the room
  • Use doors instead of screens
  • Decorations stored since last year can become coated with dust and mold
  • Thoroughly clean and dry all decor, seal in plastic bags, and store in airtight containers
  • If you are sensitive to dust or mold, wear a face mask while unpacking and decorating
  • Clean and replace filters in your furnace before turning on the heat
  • Use a filter over vents to catch dust particles
  • Clean or replace filters in any portable air cleaners
  • Run units at the highest setting during winter months
  • Check humidity levels in rooms where you spend most of your time
  • Keep humidity below 50%, as long as you are comfortable and allergy symptoms are minimal
  • Limit use of air fresheners such as candles, oils and potpourri
If you bring a live tree into your home, use the following guidelines to help reduce problems:
  • Thoroughly wipe the trunk with a solution of lukewarm water and diluted bleach (1 part bleach/ 20 parts water) to kill mold.
  • Use a leaf blower (away from the house or garage) to remove pollen grains.
  • Artificial trees are great substitutes as long as they are not coated with sprayed-on "snow."

Outdoor allergens can also be potential triggers for asthma and allergies. Here are some suggestions for preparing your home and family for the holidays:
  • Remove wet dirt and leaves from the foundation and gutters to prevent mold growth near windows and doors
  • Stack firewood outside, bringing in new logs only for immediate use in your fireplace.
  • Wear protective clothing when exposure to mold is likely (gloves, long sleeves, pants, face mask, etc.)
  • While outdoors, wear a scarf over your face to warm winter winds that enter your lungs. If this is inadequate, consider a warming mask - available at most medical supply stores

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays

It's quiet here in the office, and we will be closing until next week, when we will be open every day. Have a safe and joyous holiday!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Nickel Allergy from your Ring?

Yesterday, there was an interesting article in the Wall Street journal on nickel allergy. Check it out at www.wsj.com

Nickel allergies have been on the rise in North America in recent years and now affect 24% to 36% of women and
7% to 15% of men, according to the North American Contact Dermatitis Group, which named nickel the 2008 "Allergen of the Year." Women are more likely to have pierced ears, which can facilitate a sensitivity to nickel if earrings containing the metal contact broken skin. But men are closing the gap due to the popularity of body piercing.

As with other allergies, a reaction to nickel can develop seemingly out of the blue, even years after a person's first exposure. Once the allergy is triggered, it will persist lifelong. A reaction to a particular piece of jewelry may occur suddenly because nickel salts tend to come to the surface years later, or after protective coating has worn away. "You get more exposure to nickel the older the piece of jewelry is," says Jeffrey Benabio, a dermatologist with Kaiser Permanente in San Diego. "That's why you can wear a ring for 20 years and suddenly it starts
causing problems."

Monday, December 7, 2009

More from Mr. Whiskers.....

Question of the week from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Imunology website:

My Allergist tells me I am allergic to dogs and cats, but I have both at home and do not notice any increased symptoms there. Why is that?

Pets, particularly dogs and cats, tend to cause a lot of allergies. The pet allergens are found in the dander, urine and the saliva. Typical symptoms of hay fever include sneeze, runny nose, nasal congestion and itchy watery eyes. Asthma symptoms from allergens include wheeze, cough, shortness of breath and chest tightness. These symptoms are called the “early phase” of an allergic reaction. 

Several hours later the “late phase” of an allergic reaction may occur, with increased inflammation in the nose for hay fever and in the lungs for asthma. Hay fever symptoms in the late phase may be more nasal congestion and drainage. Asthma symptoms in the late phase reaction may be more mucous production and chest tightness. 

When a pet owner is exposed to a cat and/or dog on an ongoing basis, they may have an ongoing late phase reaction. While these symptoms may be more subtle, they are still important and should be taken seriously. Your Allergist will likely discuss avoidance measures with you, may prescribe medicines and may consider allergy shots, or immunotherapy. Just because you don’t notice increased symptoms around your pets, don’t be fooled into thinking they are not causing problems for you. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

It's Lonely Out Here

I have been writing this blog for a few months and would welcome ideas on how to make it more useful and feedback in general.  Please feel free to leave comments at drdruce@entcarepc.com. I am currently posting about one new item a week.