May is National Allergy and Asthma Awareness Month

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), the number of people living in the United States who suffer from allergies and asthma has doubled over the last 20 years.  Last year alone, there were over 2 million emergency room visits due to asthma and allergy attacks.

In an effort to bring attention to numbers that continue to grow and approach epidemic proportions; the White House has designated May as National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month. The month of May was chosen to raise awareness as it coincides with the peak season and a perilous time for allergy and asthma sufferers.

Education is the primary objective of Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month.   It is hoped that by educating the public about both chronic health conditions, more action will be taken to prevent symptoms and improve the quality of life of those affected.

Prevention and awareness are the best defenses against asthma or allergy symptoms. The first step in preventing symptoms is becoming aware of your triggers, which can be achieved through testing.  Dr. Lisa Roth, Allergist and Immunologist at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, explains, “It is important that you speak to your doctor about receiving allergy tests. Testing can help to determine the cause of your symptoms. Often people purchase over the counter medications to treat symptoms but they may not be treating the correct cause for their discomfort.”  Once your triggers are identified you can learn how to lessen their effects and seek proper treatment.

Dr. Roth recommends the following tips to lessen your exposure to triggers and alleviate symptoms:

  • Monitor pollen and mold counts
  • Keep doors and windows shut in your home and car,
  • Take medications as prescribed by your doctor
  • Clean the air in your home with a HEPA filter
  • Wash your face and hair as soon as you get home
  • Wash linens and clothing frequently.

To learn more about Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month visit the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s website http://www.aafa.org/page/asthma-and-allergy-awareness-month.aspx

To schedule appointment with an allergist at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, please call 718-206-6742.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Do You Have Dry, Itchy, Irritated Eyes?

There are a number of ailments that can cause your eyes to be red, dry and itchy.  The two most common are Pinkeye and Dry Eye Syndrome.

Pinkeye, also known as conjunctivitis, is the redness and swelling of the mucous membrane that lines the lid and surface of the eye causing a discharge and can be caused by many things including, but not limited to, an infection, dry eyes from lack of tears or over exposure to wind and sun, chemicals, allergies and smoke.

Pinkeye is very common, is usually not serious, can be viral or bacterial, is highly contagious and can spread very easily. Therefore, preventing its spread is important.

There are home remedies such as removing your contacts and applying cold or warm compresses. These remedies may help reduce your pain and keep your eye free of drainage. Symptoms usually last 5 to 7 days, but some cases can last for up to 3 weeks.

Dry Eye Syndrome is a more chronic condition in which you don’t have enough tears to lubricate and nourish your eyes.  A lack of sufficient or quality tears in the eyes can be problematic since tears are necessary for maintaining the health of the front surface of the eye, as well as providing clear vision.

According to the American Optometric Association, some symptoms of dry eye are:

  • Gritty, irritated, scratchy or burning eyes
  • The feeling of something in the eyes
  • Excess watering
  • Blurred vision

Dry eyes can develop for a number of reasons including environment, medical conditions such as diabetes and thyroid disease, aging, your gender or certain medications you are taking that can reduce tear production.

In mild cases of dry eyes, symptoms can often me managed using over the counter artificial tear solutions.

In either case, if symptoms persist you should seek medical attention.  If you are experiencing prolonged symptoms and would like to make an appointment to see one of our doctors, please call the Jamaica Hospital Medical Center Ambulatory Care Center at 718-206-7001 for an appointment.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Fall Allergies

Ever ask yourself, “Why are my allergies kicking up, it’s not spring or summer?”  The answer may be that if you are a warmer weather allergy sufferer, you will most likely be sensitive to allergens in the fall too.

While the fall season signals the beginning of cooler temperatures, it can be especially difficult for those who are sensitive to mold and ragweed pollen. If you are one of these people, symptoms such as sneezing, itchy eyes, congestion and headaches can reoccur leaving you feeling miserable.

There are several things you can do to find relief. If symptoms are mild, try the following suggestions which may provide temporary relief:

  • Closing windows and doors at night or whenever ragweed counts are high
  • Trying over the counter remedies such as decongestants or antihistamines
  • Rinsing your eyes with a saline solution
  • Trying nasal irrigation
  • Taking steamy showers
  • Wearing a mask while doing yard work
  • Washing clothes and linens frequently
  • Using air purifiers equipped with HEPA filters
  • Keeping indoor air dry by using a dehumidifier
  • Thoroughly washing your face and hair when you get home

If your symptoms are continuous and affect your ability to carry out routine activities, you should speak with an allergist.  Your allergist will be able to help you identify what triggers your seasonal allergies and provide the best course of treatment to offer relief or stop symptoms.

The Division of Allergy and Immunology at Jamaica Hospital focuses on the diagnosis and long-term treatment of allergic and immunologic conditions. To schedule an appointment with an allergist, please call 718-206-7001.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

A New Way of Testing for Allergies

It is estimated that 30 percent of Americans suffer from allergies. Historically, allergy testing was performed by specialists in the field of Allergy and Immunology. Often times this involved performing skin tests and then monitoring the results. Now this whole process can be performed by a physician through a simple blood serum test and Jamaica Hospital is now one of the few hospitals in New York that is offering this new and exciting technology.
Often times, allergy symptoms are similar to other health conditions such as colds and sinus infections. Allergies typically do not cause fever but they can cause itchiness, eye discomfort and a runny nose. It is important to determine what the cause of these symptoms is before treating the symptoms. People tend to purchase medications over the counter to treat their symptoms, but they may not be treating the correct cause of their discomfort.
With the new technology and equipment that is available at Jamaica Hospital, testing of a small sample of blood serum IgE, can determine if a person is allergic to any of the hundreds of known allergens. This quick testing will help to determine wat course of treatment should be started on. Another advantage of this testing is that it can be ordered by any physician. A correct diagnosis leads to a more accurate treatment plan.
If you would like to schedule an appointment with a physician at Jamaica Hospital to discuss having  allergies, please call 718-206-7001.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

The History of Allergies

Young girl in autumn park blowing nose. Standing in park in warm clothing.Though allergic reactions have been documented in ancient Greek and Roman history, the modern era of the study of allergies really began in the 1800’s when hay fever was described by Dr. John Bostock in 1819. This continues to be one of the most common allergic reactions, affecting approximately 15 million people in the United States.

In 1869 the first skin test for allergies was described when a scientist placed pollen into a small cut in the skin and watched for a reaction.

The concept of immunotherapy, which is building up the immune system through the administration of injections to help people cope with their allergies, was introduced in 1914.

Antihistamines, medications that would help the body respond better to allergic reactions became more widely used in the late 1930’s.  They helped by lessening the body’s reaction to allergens.

In 1948 corticosteroids were first used to treat asthma and allergic reactions. They worked on reducing the inflammation that would be caused by the allergens.

The discovery of mast cells in 1953 helped to identify what caused allergies to set off the immune response of the body. In 1963 IgE antibodies were discovered and this further helped to identify what set into motion the chain reaction within the body leading to the release of histamine and allergic reactions.

Professor Samuelson won the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology in the early 1980’s for his work with leukotrines which cause asthma allergy and inflammatory responses to foreign substances.

In present day, there are several methods used to test for allergies and various treatment options are available to minimize a person’s reactions to allergens. These developments have been made possible due to research and discoveries over the years.

If you would like to be tested for allergies or discuss the best course of treatment, please call Jamaica Hospital at 718-206-6742

 

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Seasonal Allergies Tips and Treatments

517019433-virus-sneeze-300x200While spring signals the beginning of beautiful weather and warmer days for many; it also marks the beginning of allergy symptoms for those who suffer from seasonal allergies. If you are one of these people, symptoms such as sneezing, itchy eyes, congestion and headaches can leave you feeling miserable.

Dr. Lisa Roth, allergist and immunologist at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center advises, “There are several things you can do to find relief. If symptoms are mild, try the following suggestions which may provide temporary relief:

  • Closing windows and doors at night or whenever pollen counts are high
  • Trying over the counter remedies such as decongestants or antihistamines
  • Rinsing your eyes with a saline solution
  • Trying nasal irrigation
  • Taking steamy showers
  • Wearing a mask while doing yard work
  • Washing clothes and linens frequently
  • Using air purifiers equipped with HEPA filters
  • Keeping indoor air dry by using a dehumidifier
  • Thoroughly washing your face and hair when you get home

If your symptoms are continuous and affect your ability to carry out routine activities- you should speak with an allergist.  Your allergist will be able to help you identify what triggers your seasonal allergies and provide the best course of treatment to offer relief or stop symptoms.

Treatment options may include prescription medication to control symptoms or immunotherapy.  “Allergy immunotherapy, also known as allergy shots, is a form of long-term treatment for allergic disorders that decreases symptoms for many people by modulating the immune system in a beneficial way. Allergy shots decrease sensitivity to allergens providing lasting relief of allergy symptoms,” explains Dr. Roth. Allergy shots are highly effective and can help alleviate many symptoms.

The Division of Allergy and Immunology at Jamaica Hospital focuses on the diagnosis and long-term treatment of allergic and immunologic conditions. To schedule an appointment with an allergist such as Dr. Lisa Roth, please call 718-206-6742.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

ECZEMA

Woman Scratching Her Arm Sitting on Bench at Park

Eczema is a condition that causes patches of skin to become red, inflamed, rough and itchy.  Eczema is not a specific health condition; it is a reaction pattern that the skin produces as a result of a number of different diseases.

The specific causes of eczema currently remain unknown, but it is believed to develop due to a combination of hereditary (genetic) and environmental factors.

Environmental symptoms of eczema include:

  • Irritants – soaps, detergents, shampoos, disinfectants, juices from fresh fruits, meats, or vegetables
  • Allergens – dust mites, pets, pollens, mold, dandruff
  • Microbes – bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus, viruses, certain fungi
  • Hot and cold temperatures – hot weather, high and low humidity, perspiration from exercise
  • Foods – dairy products, eggs, nuts and seeds, soy products, wheat
  • Stress – it is not a cause of eczema but can make symptoms worse
  • Hormones – women can experience worsening of eczema symptoms at times when their hormone levels are changing, for example during pregnancy and at certain points in their menstrual cycle

Since there is no cure for eczema, treatment for the condition is aimed toward healing the affected skin in an effort to prevent a flare up of symptoms.  For some people, eczema goes away over time, and for others, it remains a lifelong condition.

There are a number of things that people with eczema can do to support skin health and alleviate symptoms, such as:

  • Taking regular warm baths
  • Applying moisturizer within 3 minutes of bathing to “lock in” moisture
  • Moisturizing every day
  • Wearing cotton and soft fabrics, avoiding rough, scratchy fibers, and tight-fitting clothing
  • Using mild soap or a non-soap cleanser when washing
  • Air drying or gently patting skin dry with a towel, rather than rubbing skin dry after bathing
  • Avoiding rapid changes of temperature and activities that make you sweat (where possible)
  • Learning individual eczema triggers and avoiding them
  • Using a humidifier in dry or cold weather
  • Keeping fingernails short to prevent scratching from breaking skin

Medication can also be helpful in treating or preventing symptoms.  These treatments are prescribed by a physician.  If you are experiencing symptoms of eczema and would like to speak with a physician, call Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Ambulatory Care Center at 718-206-7001, to schedule an appointment.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Are Allergy Shots an Option for You?

Do you suffer with seasonal allergies and over the counter medications have not helped? Allergy shots may be an option when all other treatment methods have failed.

Allergy test

Allergy shots, also known as immunotherapy, are injections given at regular intervals to allergy sufferers over three to five years to stop or reduce the symptoms associated with an allergy attack. Each shot contains a tiny amount of the allergens that trigger an attack; just enough to spark the immune system, but not enough to cause a reaction. Over time, doctors will increase the amount of allergens as your system builds up a tolerance to them and becomes desensitized to their effects.

Allergy shots should be considered if medications to treat your allergies are ineffective, if allergy medications poorly interact with other medications you are taking, if allergy medications cause bothersome side effects, or if you want to reduce the long-term use of allergy medications.

Allergy shots can be used to treat reactions to:

• Seasonal allergens, such as pollens released by trees, grass, and weeds
• Indoor allergens, such as dust mites, pet dander, and mold
• Insect strings from bees, wasps, hornets, or yellow jackets

Unfortunately, allergy shots cannot treat food allergies.

Before you can even consider receiving an allergy shot your doctor must perform a skin test to determine what you are allergic to. During a skin test, a small amount of multiple allergens are scratched into your skin and the area (usually the back) is observed for 15 minutes. Redness or swelling will occur on whatever substances you are allergic to.

Once identified, allergy shots are injected regularly during two different phases of treatment.

• The build-up phase –Typically shots are given one to three times a week over three to six months. During the buildup phase, the allergen dose is gradually increased with each shot.
• The maintenance – This phase generally continues for three to five years or longer with maintenance injections administered approximately once a month.

You will need to remain in the doctor’s office for 30 minutes after each shot, in case you have a reaction, which can include local redness or swelling, sneezing, or nasal congestion. In rare cases, allergy shots can result in low blood pressure or difficulty breathing.

Allergy symptoms won’t stop overnight. They usually improve during the first year of treatment, but the most noticeable improvement often happens during the second year. By the third year, most people are desensitized to the allergens contained in the shots — and no longer have significant allergic reactions to those substances. After a few years of successful treatment, some people don’t have significant allergy problems even after allergy shots are stopped. Other people need ongoing shots to keep symptoms under control.

Speak with your doctor to determine if allergy shots are an option for you. If you do not have a doctor, Jamaica Hospital has an allergy clinic. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 718-206-7001.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Are Allergies Controlling Your Life?

Hay fever cedar pollen allergy

In some parts of the country, spring allergy season starts as early as February and can last through the summer months. Tree pollen is the first sign of allergy season’s arrival and continues to cause allergy symptoms throughout March and April. Tree pollen and grass pollen are one in the same, beginning in late spring and continuing into early summer.

Allergies are the result of an over-reactive immune system. When allergies occur, the immune system mistakenly identifies an allergen such as pollen, pet dander, mold, and dust mites as an “invader.” As a reaction, the body mounts an inappropriate immune response. To get rid of the “invader,” the immune response triggers a response that results in you experiencing typical allergy symptoms like, sneezing, runny nose, and itchy, watery eyes.

People are affected by all kinds of allergens. Some people need to avoid pollen and dust; others can’t be around dogs or cats. Regardless of what sets your allergies off, symptoms can interfere with daily activities and reduce your quality of life. Here are a few suggestions to lessen the severity of your allergies:

  1. Leave your shoes at the door

When you come home from the outside, taking your shoes off at the door lessens the amount of pollen you track into the house. Wipe down your dog’s coat before he comes into the house, too, because pollen clings to fur.

  1. Change your clothes when you get home

You can bring pollen into your home on your clothes and shoes even if you can’t see it. Toss soiled clothes in the hamper immediately; even better, take a shower.

  1. Clean or change the filters in your air conditioner

Change them at the intervals recommended by the manufacturer, or more frequently if it seems to help.

  1. Keep open windows closed

Open windows can be refreshing, but they let in pollen. Close windows and outside doors, especially on high-pollen days, and turn on the heat or the air-conditioning.

  1. Take allergy medicine at night.

If your doctor suggests or prescribes allergy medicine try taking them at night. Typically, allergy symptoms tend to be at their worst in the morning.

There are many popular methods of treatment. They work in different ways, but some are more effective than others. Before making any changes in your allergy treatment options speak with your doctor first. Jamaica Hospital’s Division of Allergy and Immunology has qualified doctors available to diagnose and treat your allergy symptoms. To make an appointment, please call 718-206-7001.

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All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

What is an allergic reaction?

Your own asthma allergyimmune system is what really causes allergic reactions.  Grass and tree pollen’s, ragweed, dust- it mistakes these harmless allergens for a serious threat and attacks them. The sneezing, watery eyes or coughing are the result of your body mistakenly attacking itself. It begins with exposure to the allergen. Even if you’ve inhaled an allergen many times before with no trouble, at some point, the body flags it as an invader. The immune system studies the allergen and readies itself for the next exposure by developing antibodies; you are now “sensitized” to the allergen.

If you are having trouble finding relief from allergies, contact Jamaica Hospital’s Ambulatory Care Center and set an appointment with one of our physicians for help at 718-206-7001.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.