What Is OAS?

Peaches, melons, corn, cherries and cucumbers are hands down some of the seasonal fruits and vegetables that we look forward to eating during summer. While these summertime favorites are enjoyable for most, others may experience itchiness of the mouth or other discomforts after consuming them. This reaction may be due to a condition known as oral allergy syndrome (OAS).

According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology, OAS is defined as “a form of contact allergy reaction that occurs upon contact of the mouth and throat with raw fruits or vegetables.”   This happens because your body is unable to tell the difference between proteins in these foods and pollen. “The immune system recognizes the pollen and similar proteins in the food and directs an allergic response to it,” states the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.  Therefore if a person is allergic to pollen there is a chance they can develop OAS.

Most cases of OAS are attributed to an allergy to birch pollen. Those who are allergic to birch pollen may experience symptoms when eating fruits or vegetables such as cherries, zucchini, peaches and plums.  Allergies to other types of pollen from grass or ragweed may trigger a reaction when consuming produce such as melons, cucumbers or bananas.

Symptoms of OAS are typically mild and last for only a few minutes; they may include:

  • Itching
  • Tingling
  • Redness
  • Mild swelling of the lips or tongue
  • Irritation of the throat and gums

In most cases these symptoms do not need treatment as they resolve in minutes.  Avoidance of trigger foods is highly recommended; however, if you must have a fruit or vegetable, consider peeling or cooking it to potentially lessen the reaction.  These recommendations may not work for everyone because each person’s tolerance is different.

OAS is diagnosed by an allergy specialist who will conduct an evaluation.  The specialist may recommend skin testing to pollens or other allergens that may be causing your symptoms.  It is also possible that your allergy specialist will ask you to eat certain foods while observing your reaction; this is called a food challenge.

It is important to keep in mind that OAS is a cross reaction to pollen rather than an allergic reaction to the actual fruit itself. The symptoms of a true food allergy can be more severe and can lead to anaphylaxis. The following symptoms should not be ignored and receive medical attention immediately:

  • Vomiting or stomach cramps
  • Shortness of breath
  • Hives
  • Shock
  • Tightness of the throat or trouble swallowing
  • Dizziness

The Division of Allergy and Immunology at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center focuses on the diagnosis and long-term treatment of allergic and immunologic conditions. To speak with an Allergy Specialist at Jamaica Hospital about OAS or food allergies, 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.

Dark Circles Under the Eyes

young woman applied concealer on her eye circles

Having dark circles under your eyes is not uncommon but they can be frustrating for those who have them.  There are many ways adults and children can develop dark circles under their eyes.

Some of the more common factors that contribute to dark circles are lack of sleep or too much sleep, an iron deficiency, stress, allergies or nasal congestion.

Dark circles under the eyes caused by the more common factors can often be resolved by using over the counter remedies.

If you are getting adequate sleep, have a healthy diet, take vitamin supplements and dark circles still persist, you may have a condition called hyperpigmentation.

Hyperpigmentation is caused by an excessive amount of melanin in your system causing dark patches to develop on the skin.  These patches often form under the eyes.

Some additional causes of hyperpigmentation are:

  • Excessive sun exposure
  • Scarring
  • Genetics
  • Aging
  • Acne
  • Burns
  • Skin pigmentation abnormalities (Thin skin under the eye showing veins)

Since hyperpigmentation does not fade on its own and in some cases can be permanent, you may want to seek the advice of a dermatologist.

To schedule an appointment with a dermatologist at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, 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.

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.

Sinusitis

A sinus infection develops as the result of fluid filling the spaces in the head that surround the cavities of the nose and the eyes. These sinuses are normally filled with air but when they fill with fluid they can become blocked and  there is the possibility that bacteria can grow there and become infected. An infection in the sinuses is called sinusitis. A sinus infection can be caused by a cold, allergies, hay fever, a deviated septum and nasal polyps.
Sinus infection symptoms include:
• Pressure or pain around the face and eyes
• Headache
• Blockage in your nose
• Congestion
• Post nasal drip
• Fever or cough
• Thick yellow foul smelling discharge from your nose
• Reduced sense of smell
• Fatigue
• Ear pain
Relief for a sinus infection can come from antibiotics, steam, hot showers, decongestants, and antihistamines.
If you experience any of the symptoms of a sinus infection you should be seen by your physician who will recommend a course of treatment. If you would like to see a physician at Jamaica Hospital please call 718-206-7001.

Sinusitis

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.

Asthma and Allergies

Hay fever cedar pollen allergy

The month of May has been designated as “National Asthma and Allergy Month by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Spring is the beginning of the peak season for asthma and allergy sufferers. Asthma affects over 25 million Americans, 6.3 million of them are under the age of 18. More than 50 million people in the United States have some type of allergy and that number is increasing every year.
If a person knows that they have asthma, it is suggested that they avoid things that can trigger an attack. Triggers are anything that the body is sensitive to that causes the airways to become inflamed.
Common triggers are:
• Pollen
• Changes in weather
• Dust
• Stress
• Exercise
• Chemicals
Symptoms of asthma are shortness of breath, wheezing, chest tightness, and coughing. There is no cure for asthma however there are medications that can help to keep it controlled.
Allergies are a very common chronic illness that lasts a long time or occurs frequently. Allergies occur when the body comes in to contact with a substance that causes the immune system to overreact.
Some of the more common substances people are allergic to are:
• Food
• Insect bites
• Latex
• Mold
• Pets
• Pollen
• Medications
Symptoms of allergies may include watery eyes, sneezing, itchiness, rash, hives and difficulty breathing. Severe cases can lead to anaphylactic shock which is potentially life threatening due to a lowering of the blood pressure and a dilation of the blood vessels, if not treated quickly.
Doctors can perform tests to see how you respond to small amounts of allergens.  There are ways to treat allergies, the best method though is to avoid things that you know will cause a reaction in the first place. There are medications available to control allergic reactions and doctors can give injections that act to train the immune system to not overreact to these substances.
To schedule an appointment at Jamaica Hospital with a physician to discuss controlling asthma and allergies, please call 718-206-7001.

For more hospital events, highlights, health and  fitness tips, visit us on 

Facebook.com/JamaicaHospital and follow us on Twitter @JamaicaHospital

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.

Food Allergy Action Month

 

Allergenic food isolated on white

May has been designated as Food Allergy Action Month in an effort to educate Americans about food allergies and to support those who suffer from them.

Recent surveys indicate that 15 million Americans now suffer from food allergies. This number indicates that food allergies are much more common than previously believed and the number of people with allergies is steadily growing. It is now estimated that one out of every 13 children has a food allergy.

An allergic reaction occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly identifies a food component as a hazardous substance and attacks it. The effects of food allergies may appear on the skin, in the respiratory passage, or in the gastrointestinal tract. The symptoms of food allergies may vary from mild to severe, and in extreme cases, they can even be fatal.

Minor reactions include:

  • Skin rash
  • Eczema
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Nausea

Serious Reactions Include:

  • Obstructive inflammation of the tongue and respiratory tract
  • Panting and wheezing
  • Lack of oxygen, leading to blue lips
  • Unconsciousness
  • Drop in pulse rate

Anaphylaxis is a very serious allergic reaction that can cause death. This type of allergic reaction requires immediate action and medical attention. If you or a loved one has a severe food allergy, you must be prepared for an emergency. Learn the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis and know what the emergency care plan is. It may include the administration of epinephrine, a life-saving drug.

Over 170 different foods have been reported to cause an allergic reaction, but the food products that cause the most reactions are:

  • Soy
  • Milk
  • Fish / Shellfish
  • Peanuts / Tree Nuts
  • Eggs
  • Wheat

There is currently no cure for food allergies. To prevent an allergic reaction, it is important for the person with the allergy to stay away from foods that cause symptoms. Contact with even the smallest amounts of the allergen can cause serious problems. To avoid an allergic reaction, take the following precautions:

  • Learn to carefully read food labels and ask about ingredients in prepared foods
  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water before and after touching food
  • Use clean, uncontaminated utensils when preparing foods
  • Educate others about food allergies.

Every year in the United States, approximately 30,000 individuals are brought to hospital Emergency Departments and 150 people die due to severe allergic reactions. Jamaica Hospital joins the effort to raise awareness about food allergies and urges everyone to learn more about this growing, yet manageable issue.

For more hospital events, highlights, health and  fitness tips, visit us on 

Facebook.com/JamaicaHospital  or Facebook.com/Flushing Hospital 

and follow us on Twitter @JamaicaHospital or @FHMC_NYC 

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.

For more hospital events, highlights, health and  fitness tips, visit us on 

Facebook.com/JamaicaHospital  or Facebook.com/Flushing Hospital 

and follow us on Twitter @JamaicaHospital or @FHMC_NYC

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.