Study: Hay Fever More Commonly Found In Southern U.S. Kids

Children in the southern United States are more likely to suffer from hay fever, according to research conducted by the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI).

Researchers looked at data from over 91,000 kids, finding that over 18 percent suffered from the disorder. Hay fever rates were highest in the southern and southeastern U.S., while the lowest rates occurred in Alaska, Montana and Vermont.

"According to the study, wetter regions with average humidity were associated with a decreased number of children with hay fever," said Dr. Micheal Foggs, president elect of the ACAAI. "The study also found areas of the south with warm temperatures and elevated UV indexes seem to harbor more hay fever sufferers."

Over the counter hay fever remedies include nasal corticosteroid sprays, antihistamines, decongestants, montelukast (Singulair), allergy shots and sinus rinses.


by RTT Staff Writer
November 15, 2013

American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, Nov. 7-11

The annual meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology was held from Nov. 7 to 11 in Baltimore and attracted approximately 3,500 participants from around the world, including allergy and immunology specialists as well as other health care professionals. The conference featured presentations focusing on the latest advances in the prevention and treatment of asthma, food and medication allergies, immune dysfunction, and sleep apnea.

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When Allergies Trigger Asthma: Allergic asthma is the most common form of asthma. Proper diagnosis and treatment are key to preventing attacks.

More than 26 million Americans have asthma, and the number of people with it continues to rise. A chronic and potentially dangerous disease in which the airways of the lungs become inflamed, asthma is closely intertwined with allergies. “Anything that can cause allergies can also cause asthma symptoms,” said David Rosenstreich, MD, director of the Allergy and Immunology Division at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City.

As many as three out of four adults with asthma have at least one allergy. In fact, the most common form of asthma is allergic asthma, which accounts for 60 percent of all cases. Allergic asthma, also known as extrinsic asthma, is set off by inhaled allergens such as dust mites, mold, pollen, and pet dander. “When some people breathe in allergens, the tubes in their lungs become inflamed,” said Dr. Rosenstreich.

“People think of seasonal allergies as a runny nose, but your airway starts at your nose,” said Boyd Hehn, MD, a pulmonologist at Thomas Jefferson University and Hospitals in Philadelphia. “So it’s a chain reaction where that runny nose will cause the asthma to act up and the airway to become inflamed.”

Non-allergic, or intrinsic asthma, can be triggered by other factors such as anxiety, stress, exercise, cold air, and viruses. But many of the symptoms are the same for both kinds of asthma, including coughing, wheezing, tightness in the chest, and shortness of breath.

Rachel Lewis has been dealing with allergic asthma since she was a child, and she suffered her first asthma attack at age 7. “The doctors told me I would grow out of my allergies, but they’ve only gotten worse,” said Lewis, 30.

For people like Lewis, it’s critical to manage their exposure to allergens that may trigger attacks.

Doctors who suspect a patient has allergic asthma perform tests to see what they’re specifically allergic to. This can be done with a skin test, where a small amount of allergen is placed on top or slightly below the skin with a needle. Doctors then look for an immediate reaction, usually a rash resembling a mosquito bite. A blood test can also be done to look for allergen-specific antibodies in the bloodstream.

Fall allergy season is here, and people sensitive to common autumn allergens such as ragweed and mold are starting to feel its effects.

“Once the ragweed comes out, a lot of asthma patients are coming into the office,” said Dr. Hehn. “Controlling the allergies can only help in limiting asthma symptoms.”

Lewis lives in Texas, where fall can be a windy season with a lot of allergens blowing around. She’s looking forward to winter, “when I can go outside and actually breathe.”

Experts recommend those sensitive to seasonal allergies limit their time outdoors on days when there are high allergen counts. These daily counts can be found online through the National Allergy Bureau, part of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

There are several simple steps that someone with allergic asthma can take to control their symptoms. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Keep home and car windows shut during peak allergy times.
  • Use an in-home air filtration system.
  • Protective bedding covers can keep dust mites out of pillows and mattresses.
  • Limit cats and dogs to certain rooms in the home, and keep them out of the bedroom.
  • Bathing pets regularly reduces allergen counts, and frequent vacuuming can help control dander.

Lewis has her own strategies to manage her allergic asthma:

  • She takes hot showers after she’s been outside and exposed to pollen.
  • She only uses fragrance-free laundry detergents.
  • When she cleans, she wears a mask.
  • She keeps a lint roller with her to get pet dander off her clothing.

“It’s a constant effort to keep all my symptoms balanced and controlled,” said Lewis. “Some people think I’m overreacting and making my allergic asthma a bigger deal than it is. But until you go through that experience of not being able to breathe, then you don’t really know what it’s like and how scary it can be.”


By Dr. Sanjay Gupta
October 29, 2013

Allergy Testing and Treatment in Your Medical Practice

In this week's installment of revenue sources for your medical practice, I want to introduce to you different ways of thinking about testing and treating your patients for their seasonal allergies. The results for your patients and bottom line are nothing to sneeze at.

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Asthma Capitals 2013

The Asthma Capitals is an annual research project of the AAFA to identify “the most challenging places to live with asthma.” This report provides a summary of factors used to compare and rank the 100 largest U.S. metro areas.

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Experts: High pollen count increases medical dangers

Borger resident Edwin Scott said his allergies have been so bad this season he’s been chasing his Zyrtec with Allegra. “Usually, I use Benadryl or something (to supplement Zyrtec), not one of the name-brand medicines,” Scott said.
Allergens may be something to sneeze at, but area residents should not underestimate them as higher moisture levels and higher temperatures have caused higher pollen levels, local allergy experts said.

“People should not take allergies as something mild,” Dr. Constantine K. Saadeh said. “(Allergies) can have serious ramifications.”

Serious allergy suffers face sinus infections that can lead to meningitis, he said.

People who suffer from asthma caused by allergies can suffer irreparable lung damage if their asthma goes untreated, Saadeh said.

West Texas A&M University Purchasing Director Bryan Glenn said he couldn’t make it to work Friday because of his seasonal allergy symptoms. He said he’s been taking allergy shots to no avail.

“My face is swollen and eyes are runny … ready for the first freeze,” Glenn said.

WT biology professor Arun Ghosh cited research by Rutgers University environmentalist Leonard Bielory to explain heightened pollen levels worldwide. Global climate change is prompting many plant species into a sort of species-
survival mode in which they release more pollen, Ghosh said.

“(Plants) cannot move themselves, so it’s kind of a gene-controlled phenomenon,” Ghosh said. “They are producing more reproductive units.”

Ghosh said West Texas residents face the worst allergy conditions in the state. He said he assumed allergens wouldn’t be prevalent in the area when he first moved to the Texas Panhandle due to the region’s limited plant life.

“Just the opposite thing is true,” Ghosh said. “Pollen grains, they can fly 300 to 400 miles. We receive pollen grains from Oklahoma, we receive pollen grains from Colorado, New Mexico — all of our neighboring states.”

This summer, a team of of WT researchers measured heightened levels of ragweed in Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Ghosh said. Nine years ago, researchers found scattered patches of ragweed in the canyon, but due to recent rains, a “continuous trail” of ragweed littered the landscape this summer, Ghosh said.

“Ragweed is the most important culprit that is causing allergies to 90 percent of people who are suffering from allergies in the world,” he said.

Another area culprit is the fungus alternaria, which forms on wheat plants and agitates residents with mold allergies, Ghosh said.

Saadeh said allergy sufferers can can take preventative measures to head off their symptoms, such as avoiding going outside between 4 and 8 p.m., as well as avoiding the outdoors when wind speeds range from 20 to 30 mph.

Over-the-counter antihistamine medicine can help mild allergy sufferers, but people experiencing more serious symptoms should talk to a doctor, he said. It’s also a good idea to wash clothes in hot water to deal with pollens that stick to clothing, Saadeh said.

Ghosh said allergy sufferers also should consider wearing a face mask when working outdoors. Parents can help their children tolerate allergies by letting them play outside at an early age, he said, and residents suffering from allergies should consider having their homes inspected for mold growing inside walls or air ducts.

To many, allergies are a minor annoyance, but they can be dangerous for others, Ghosh said. After all, pollens might be responsible for killing off the dinosaurs.

“You laugh at that, but it’s a very plausible theory, and many archaeologists and scientists … believe that the dinosaurs became extinct because of allergies,” Ghosh said.


By Russell Anglin
October 12, 2013

2013 Fall Allergy Capitals

This fall could be a perfect storm for allergy sufferers, as global weather conditions boost ragweed levels, and fall storms and tornadoes disperse allergens and outdoor mold, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA).

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Ragweed Pollen and Mold will be the Key Allergens this Fall: AAFA

Ragweed pollen will be the key allergy causing source this season’s fall in the U.S. which would make more the season tougher for people with fall allergies.

The Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), a not-for-profit organization, warns that this season's fall will be comparatively more difficult for people with allergies; ragweed pollen and mold will be the key allergy causing sources.

The global weather is likely to increase ragweed growth. Tornadoes and fall storms will disperse outdoor mold and allergens in the atmosphere, according to a report by AAFA.

The AAFA also created a list of challenging U.S. cities to live in for people with fall allergies. The list has been created on the basis of the usage of over-the-counter and prescription allergy medication, pollen levels and the number of Board Certified allergists present in each city.

The growing carbon dioxide levels and temperatures could boost the ragweed season by about a month or more, according to recent studies. The warmer weather now lasts for longer periods in the northern states of U.S. due to climatic changes.

Pollen from weeds is more problematic during fall compared to spring.

Though the season now commences later than its normal time, there is a fear of increased pollen distribution, which can trigger the allergy symptoms. These estimations are made on the basis of the forecast about the above-average tornadoes expected in the Midwest and the hurricane season predicted in the East.

Outdoor mold grow and spread more because of the wind patterns and the fall weather.

The allergic reactions to pollen and outdoor mold are often mistaken to be flu or cold, particularly during this season, which sometimes leads to delayed treatment.

Approximately 40 million Americans suffering from seasonal allergies are advised by the AAFA to learn more and seek advice from specialists for proper diagnosis and treatment of seasonal allergy symptoms.


By Nupur Jha
September 19, 2013

Caring for Chronic Conditions in Primary Care

With the Patient Protec­tion and Affordable Care Act now underway, more attention is being focused on patient-centered and coordinated care. As a result, primary care physicians (PCPs) are seeking new ways to organize care around patients. This includes providing in-office services that meet all of patients’ healthcare needs and/or taking responsibility for appropriate referrals.

Within MaxHeath Family Medicine, the focus is on increasing our ability to address all patient health concerns by adding a diverse array of services. In addition to a patient clinic, our practice houses centers for allergy, physical medicine and rehabilitation, cosmetic medicine, and weight loss. It also offers centers for sports medicine, brain health, and mental health. By offering more services, we have successfully improved patient outcomes, as well as financial benefits for the practice.

A Focus on Allergic Rhinitis & Asthma

Efficient treatment of chronic conditions is important to cultivating patient-centered primary care. Nearly half of all Americans have a chronic condition, and the prevalence of such conditions continues to increase. For example, approximately 60 million Americans suffer from allergic rhinitis (AR), which often precedes the onset of chronic allergic asthma. To enhance care of chronic conditions, we must shift from simple chronic disease-state management toward prevention-focused care.

In an effort to address AR, my colleagues and I implemented additional AR treatment protocols by establishing an allergy center. We work with United Allergy Services to supply allergy testing and immunotherapy to patients. For those who view their symptoms as a minor inconvenience, it is important that they avoid specific allergens. However, this avoidance approach can only work if the offending allergens have been identified. Allergy testing allows us to arm patients with information on what they’re allergic to and what to avoid. For those needing more substantial treatment, allergen immunotherapy addresses the underlying causes, helping reduce symptoms in about 85% of patients. Allergen immunotherapy has also been shown to prevent the development of new allergies and halt the progression of diseases, such as allergic asthma.

Allergy Care: Appropriate Resource Allocation

Increasing access to allergy care within primary care ultimately aligns with healthcare reform goals to deliver higher quality, affordable care to more patients. There are not many board-certified allergists and other allergy specialists, but demand for their services is projected to rise rapidly. By increasing the scope of care within our practice, we can help more patients fight chronic conditions like AR and allergic asthma. Given these benefits, the extent of care provided by PCPs will continue to expand as the healthcare industry evolves.

To learn more about Atrial Fibrillation Awareness Month, go to The Heart Rhythm Society also offers guides several helpful pocket guides for clinicians managing patients with atrial fibrillation. Two of these guides—“Managing the Patient With Atrial Fibrillation” and “Practical Rate and Rhythm Management of Atrial Fibrillation”—are available as free downloads.


By Jeffrey Bullar, MD
September 5, 2013

ADHD more likely in children with asthma or allergies

Children with a history of asthma and various allergies may be at higher risk of developing ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), according to a study published in the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

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