Know your 2019 springtime allergens

Punxsutawney Phil confirmed it over the weekend: spring is coming! That means it's time to plan your annual home cleanup efforts, look ahead to warmer weather and, if you're one of the tens of millions of allergy sufferers in America, prepare for the various allergens that will be in the air this season. Those include tree pollens like oak, elm, cedar and birch, as well as grasses and molds which can all give people trouble and trigger allergy symptoms this time of year.

 

While science may not actually support the groundhog's ability to predict the end of winter, the following facts about some of the most common allergens are still helpful to keep in mind whenever spring is in bloom in your part of the country.

 

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Spring Allergy Facts-Birch-Twitter-900x450

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Spring Allergy Facts-Mold-Twitter-900x450

Spring Allergy Facts-Mountain Cedar-Twitter-900x450

Spring Allergy Facts-Oak-Twitter-900x450

Spring Allergy Facts-Orchard Grass-Twitter-900x450

 

References:

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/healthcommunication/ToolsTemplates/EntertainmentEd/Tips/Allergies.html
  2. http://www.phadia.com/en/products/allergy-testing-products/immunocap-allergen-information/grass-pollens/allergens/bermuda-grass/
  3. https://www.pollen.com/research/genus/betula
  4. http://www.phadia.com/en/Products/Allergy-testing-products/ImmunoCAP-Allergen-Information/Tree-Pollens/Allergens/Elm-/
  5. https://www.wood-database.com/wood-articles/state-trees-of-the-united-states/
  6. http://www.phadia.com/Products/Allergy-testing-products/ImmunoCAP-Allergen-Information/Tree-Pollens/Allergens/Pecan-Hickory-/
  7. http://www.phadia.com/en/products/allergy-testing-products/immunocapallergen-information/tree-pollens/allergens/mountain-juniper-/
  8. https://www.healthline.com/health/allergies/honey-remedy
  9. https://wildseed.co.uk/species/view/190

 


2018 forecasts call for longer allergy seasons

2018 forecasts call for longer allergy seasons


March 12, 2018

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American allergy sufferers have come to know what to expect throughout the year – oak in spring; grass over the late spring and early summer months; ragweed in late summer through autumn; cedar in fall through winter – as their fluctuating symptoms follow the changing of the seasons.

Recent years, however, have seen significant shifts in allergy seasons, with some occurring earlier in the year and others lasting longer than normal. With global pollen counts also on the rise, these changes paint a slightly different picture for allergy sufferers around the country. Here’s what you need to know as you look ahead to the rest of 2018.

Earlier spring allergies

For several years, spring allergies have been occurring earlier. That means plants and trees, many of which bud when temperatures get warm enough, flowering weeks ahead of schedule and releasing more pollen into the air.

Punxsutawney Phil may have recently called for six more weeks of winter, but that will not likely apply to spring allergies in 2018. In Nevada, pollen monitors have already registered unseasonably high counts, signaling an early start to this spring allergy season. A February report in New Orleans highlighted a high number of hospitalizations due to allergies, while doctors in Orlando believe their city could be entering “one of the worst allergy seasons ever.”

Longer weed pollination seasons

Warmer temperatures don’t just mean earlier springs – they also mean milder autumns, which lead to longer pollination seasons for ragweed and other weeds.

Ragweed is an allergenic plant that pollinates in tropical and subtropical climates, typically the season lasts from August through October. It is one of the most common causes of allergic rhinitis (hay fever) for millions of Americans in the autumn months. Ragweed thrives in warmer temperatures and is dispersed by the wind, with each plant capable of producing up to one billion pollen grains. Its pollen has been found as far as 400 miles out to sea and 2 miles up in the atmosphere.

With longer autumns come longer ragweed seasons. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the EPA found a dramatic increase in ragweed seasonacross many parts of the United States and Canada, with select areas experiencing almost a month more of ragweed season.

Changes in climate have not only affected when ragweed season occurs; they may also be extending where it occurs. In Europe, the far-reaching weed is expected to become more prevalent in new geographical regions that are becoming more climatically hospitable to it. Such a development would impact millions of people in countries like Denmark, France, Germany and Russia who are not currently exposed to it.

Higher year-round pollen counts

Underlying these two seasonal shifts is an expectation in the scientific community that year-round pollen counts will only continue to rise in the coming decades. A 2012 report by the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology found that pollen counts are expected to more than double by 2040.

“In the year 2000, pollen counts averaged 8,455. Fast forward to 2040, and these counts are anticipated to reach 21,735. Researchers predict counts in 20-year increments up to the year 2100 and are incorporating various climatic factors in their models including weather patterns, changes in precipitation and temperature.”

For allergy sufferers with allergic asthma, higher pollen counts inevitably leads to increased risk and severity of asthma attacks, along with worsened symptoms on a week-to-week basis.

What can you do to prepare?

With more intense allergy seasons on the future forecast, people with airborne allergies will benefit from preparing as best they can. The first step is knowing what their sensitivities are, ideally by undergoing an allergy test. By doing so, you will understand the times of year that you’re most at risk and be able to plan their avoidance accordingly.

There’s also a number of allergy treatment options you can explore, from over-the-counter medications to allergen immunotherapy. While the former can help you combat symptoms on a daily basis, the latter offers a long-term solution – one which may be all the more necessary given the changes in the air.


5 interesting cases of allergic cross-reactivity

5 interesting cases of allergic cross-reactivity


February 2, 2018

Allergy sufferers cope with their sensitivities in a number of ways, from over-the-counter medication and immunotherapy treatment to simple avoidance. Yet, even if a person was to employ every known method of avoidance, it’s still possible he or she would still experience an allergic reaction at a time when an allergen is nowhere to be seen.

The reason why is cross-reactivity, a phenomenon in which “the proteins in one substance are similar to the proteins found in another substance”. That means that a person allergic to a particular pollen may see a similar reaction after eating a nut, spice, or piece of fruit that is cross-reactive with that particular pollen.

When we consume a cross-reactive protein, the ensuing reaction is known as oral allergy syndrome, or pollen-food allergy syndrome. Oral allergy syndrome can be triggered by a variety of foods that many of us eat on a daily basis, resulting in mild to moderate symptoms that range from swelling and itching around the mouth to watery eyes and runny noses.

With that in mind, here are five cases of cross-reactivity to keep an eye out for the next time you’re at the grocery store.

1. Cypress pollen and peaches, citrus fruits

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A recently discovered cross-reactivity according to Science Daily, peaches and citrus fruits such as oranges have demonstrated a possibility for allergic reactions. For people with cypress allergies, that is an issue not only when eating raw citrus fruits but when eating fruit-based products such as jams and marmalades.

2. Ragweed and melons, bananas, cantaloupe

Weeds are cross-reactive with a number of foods, and the association between ragweed and these sweet fruits is among the most common. Ragweed season typically occurs between late summer through fall, but ragweed allergy sufferers may find themselves facing similar symptoms after biting into a banana or slice of melon or cantaloupe.

3. Grass and watermelon, melons, tomatoes and oranges

Grasses like Timothy and Johnson can wreak havoc on allergy sufferers. So, too, can their cross-reactive cousins in the produce aisle of your local supermarket.

4. Birch and peanuts, hazelnuts

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Many people suffer from common peanut allergies, while some may actually be allergic to birch tree pollen, which shares a similar protein to both peanuts and hazelnuts. According to PeanutAllergy.com, cooked and roasted nuts may also pose a threat, since their proteins are less sensitive to heat than others.

5. Mugwort and spices (anis, basil, chamomile, cilantro, dill, fennel, oregano, paprika, parsley, pepper, tarragon, thyme, and more)

Looking to spice up your life? It’s advised that you make sure you’re not allergic to mugwort, a weed that is cross-reactive with a number of spices you’ll find in your cupboard.

There are many other cross-reactive associations not listed here, which is why it’s important to understand both what your allergic sensitivities are, and what fruits, vegetables, nuts or spices they may be associated with.

Allergy awareness and avoidance are two positive steps you can take to combat allergies in your day-to-day life, but a better understanding of cross-reactivity is also important, helping ensure you know what to pick up – and what not to pick up – the next time you go grocery shopping.


spring allergy capital of america

Christmas Tree Syndrome

Christmas Tree Syndrome


November 30, 2017

One of the early signs the holidays are coming is the sight of Christmas trees popping up in homes around your neighborhood. For some, that means pulling an artificial tree out of a box; for others, it means heading to the nearby tree farm to pick up a real one. Whichever you prefer, there are important tips to keep in mind that can make the holidays a lot happier for the allergy sufferers in your life.

Let’s look at the pros and cons for each option, and see which yuletide centerpiece could be best for you and your family.

 

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Some people will settle for nothing less than a real tree for the holidays, and it’s understandable why. You get to take the family to pick one out – or even cut one down yourself – and they have a wonderful scent that fills your home.

While it may be easy to blame your fresh Christmas tree for the allergy symptoms that arrive with it, conifers are seldom an important allergen. Mold is likely to blame. In a 2016 Connecticut study, researchers observed a dramatic increase in mold spore count in the two weeks after a Christmas tree was brought indoors:

“The study found that the mold spore count was 800 spores per square meter for the first three days. Normal spore counts are less than 1,000 spores per square meter. However, the spore count rose after day four, reaching a maximum of 5,000 spores per square meter by day 14.”

With those findings, it’s no surprise the article suggests avoidance may be the best measure for people with mold allergies:

“If one is mold-allergic, running an air cleaner in the same room as the tree could theoretically reduce the mold exposure, but this has not been studied… For some people who are sensitive to odors, the aroma from the tree, which most people like, could irritate their nose and cause symptoms. For these people, avoiding live trees may be best.”

What else can be done? For starters, reduce the amount of time that the tree is in your home by bringing the tree in just before Christmas and removing it the day after. The authors of a 2007 study suggested another simple solution: shaking as much debris as possible out of the tree before bringing it inside.

Elsewhere, those who have suffered from tree-related allergies have found some success in rinsing off the tree with a hose and sprayer, and then leaving the tree somewhere warm to dry for a couple of days before bringing it into the house. Using an air compressor to blow off debris might be an excellent alternative to avoid having to dry the tree out afterward.

And don’t forget: spray snow, like any aerosolized chemical, is an irritant that can cause reactions in your eyes, nose and lungs.

 

The Lookalikes

christmas-993304_1280There are others who favor having an artificial tree to display their Christmas cheer. They’re easy to assemble, and come in so many different shapes and sizes. On top of that, there aren’t any pesky dry pine needles on the floor to clean up. Most importantly, once the holidays are over, you can store it and use it year after year. With so many benefits, it’s easy to see why this is a popular choice.

The first year with a new artificial tree should be allergy-free. How you store the tree year after year will affect the allergens that it may bring into your home in the following years. Just like anything else you store in your garage or attic until its next use, it sits there and gathers dust. Lots of dust.

Dust and dust mites are among the most common triggers of allergic reactions, as well as the most common cause of asthma in children, according to the ACAAI. Can you imagine how much dust your tree has gathered since last year? That’s why, before adorning that artificial tree with tinsel and lights, a thorough clean is a must.

Another potential allergen that could be lurking in your stored artificial tree: cockroach. Cockroaches thrive in nice dark and warm places, such as the cardboard box you may be storing your tree in. Cardboard boxes are not only considered a nice place to live by cockroaches – they’re also a food source for them.

An air compressor can be used to blow off accumulated allergens before retrieving the tree from your closet or attic. If you opt to spray down your artificial tree with a hose, be sure to let it thoroughly dry outside the home before bringing it in to avoid mold. It is also recommended that you swap out the cardboard box that your tree came in for a storage bag that is moisture, dust, and pet resistant.

 

So, which option is better? Well, it depends on a person’s sensitivities. If you’re unsure if you suffer from mold, dust, or cockroach allergies, the easiest way to find out is to ask your doctor to perform an allergy skin test. It’s quick, and you’ll have your results before you walk out of the office.

Beyond that, keeping the air clear by replacing filters and opening the occasional window should also help, regardless of which tree you choose.

By understanding the pros and cons of each option, and by learning more about the allergies that could be affecting you or your loved ones, you can help ensure the only sniffles during this holiday season are of the merry, heartfelt kind.


How to Minimize Dog Shedding

How to Minimize Dog Shedding


June 2, 2017

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Mylan Issues a Voluntary Recall for Epi Pen and Epi Pen Jr.

Mylan Issues a Voluntary Recall for Epi Pen and Epi Pen Jr.


April 13, 2017

As of March 31, 2017, Mylan Pharmaceuticals has issued a voluntary recall for Epi Pen and Epi Pen Jr, epinephrine autoinjectors, from 13 specified lots.

FILE – In this July 8, 2016, file photo, a pharmacist holds a package of EpiPens epinephrine auto-injector, a Mylan product, in Sacramento, Calif. Mylan CEO Heather Bresch is defending the cost for life-saving EpiPens and is offering no suggestion that there are plans to lower prices. Bresch’s prepared testimony was released by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee ahead of her Sept. 21 appearance before the panel. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

The recall is due to a potential defective part that would result in the devices’ failure to activate. Although there have been a small number of defective devices reported, Mylan is taking proactive actions to ensure the safety of their products.

The recalled products were distributed between Dec. 17, 2015 and July 1, 2016. Please check your epinephrine autoinjectors and compare with the Mylan Site for lot numbers and steps to return and replace your defective epinephrine autoinjector.

For additional information please view the FDA’s official press release, here.


Allergy season not quite over yet

Sneezing, itchy nose and watery eyes — each a symptom of allergic rhinitis.

Coined “hay fever” after farmers would commonly experience these fever-type symptoms working out in the fields, seasonal allergies has symptoms country boy Craig Anderson has experienced all his life.

“We would play in the weeds until our eyes got so inflamed that we couldn’t even find our way home. It was kind of the question of the blind leading the blind, trying to find our way home," he said. "But we managed it.”

Johnnie Cook, M.D., said seasonal allergies are caused by pollens in the air: “What happens is that you breathe in that pollen and your body has a reaction because it thinks that’s a foreign thing.”

In the springtime, grass and tree pollens are high. Pollen from weeds trickle in as early as August and sticks around until the first hard frost," he explained. Symptoms include itchy nose, sneezing, itchy eyes and nasal congestion, and seasonal allergies can lead to irritability and trouble sleeping.

“There are studies where we see more allergies and more asthma now than we used to in the past.” Cook said although there are no official studies yet available, he suspects the reasoning may be attributed to more pollution and kids spending more time indoors than playing outside.

Cook added that allergies can come at any age, typically after you've been exposed for several years. Thirty to 40 percent of seasonal allergies can be treated with over-the-counter medications. The doctor urges reading labels closely and pay special attention to how long the medication lasts.

“Some studies show that Benadryl in a 25 mg. dose can be as impairing as alcohol at a legal limit,” Cook said. If symptoms persist, make an appointment with your doctor to explore the one of the many options for treatment. “There are some great solutions out there. (Allergy sufferers) should really seek a physician rather than be miserable and miss out on life. Life’s too precious.”

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By Jenniffer Michaelson, KSL
October 14, 2014
heraldtimesonline.com


Ragweed, not goldenrod, to blame for allergies

Goldenrod is a recognized sight this time of year with its showy yellow flowers held high on stems moving back and forth by autumn winds. A field full of these vivid yellow blossoms is a sight to see with a bright blue fall sky as a background. But too often this plant is blamed for the sneezing, runny nose and itchy eyes that many people suffer while goldenrod is blooming.

The common culprit causing these allergy symptoms is ragweed, not goldenrod.

If there is a plant sitting back snickering while pulling a practical joke and letting someone else (goldenrod) take the blame, ragweed is it. Ragweed blooms at the same time as goldenrod, August to frost. Ragweed pollen is windborne. Goldenrod pollen is not.

Ragweed releases its billions of tiny, lightweight pollen grains into the air this time of year. This windborne pollen causes much of the hay fever problems. Goldenrod pollen is too large and heavy and sticky to be windborne. It relies on insects to carry its pollen. I suppose if you put your nose right up into a cluster of goldenrod flowers and took a big sniff, you might be bothered by the pollen. But otherwise, it is not going to get into your nose.

Goldenrod is an innocent bystander as ragweed remains camouflaged releasing its pollen. Ragweed visually blends in with other green plants. Despite the fact that common ragweed, an annual, can grow three to greater than six feet in height, it just does not get your attention. It is quite common along roadsides, vacant lots and abandoned fields. Its inconspicuous flowers start out as green, similar in color to the leaves, turn a yellowish green and finally dry to a brown color. They are never showy.

Goldenrod is in the plant genus Solidago of which there are more than 100 species. We have at least eight species native to Northwest Florida. Most are perennials. Many insects are attracted to and help pollinate goldenrod flowers, including numerous species of butterflies, bees, wasps and beetles.

Goldenrod can be grown in landscapes. But be careful because it can spread by seed and underground stems called rhizomes. It is best used in naturalized gardens where it has room to spread. Goldenrod is not difficult to transplant. Make sure you have permission to dig it on someone else’s property. Select plants when they are in bloom as individual plants differ in how attractive they are. Plants should transplant quite well If you keep them well-watered.

Enjoy the bright yellow flowers of goldenrod this fall. But please do not blame them for your allergies.

Contact Larry Williams at 689-5850 or 689-5050; or e-mail lwilliams@co.okaloosa.fl.us. He is the Extension horticulture agent with the Okaloosa County Cooperative Extension Service, University of Florida.

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By Larry Williams
October 12, 2014
nwfdailynews.com


Allergy Sufferers Beware

There's something in the air that's sickening many people with allergies. We spoke to the allergy experts and found out how the weather is to be blamed.
San Antonio During a drought, pollen counts are not as high mainly because the trees aren't healthy enough to produce pollen. But with all the rain we've had recently, we can expect the count to be heavier this season.

Fall Allergies Expected To Be In Full Force

Flowers are no longer blooming, but that doesn’t mean allergies aren’t still in the air.

If you’re sneezing more, a fall allergy might be triggering your problem.

Read more