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Spring Bulletin

Seasonal Allergies
The most common seasonal allergy trigger is pollen - tiny grains released into the air by trees, grasses and weeds.Trees are the first to pollenate begining in mid-February and continuing through May. Grasses follow beginning in May and continue till early July. This means May can be a rough month for people allergic to both trees and grasses. Fall weeds begin in early August and will continue until the first frost. Pollen can travel for miles, spreading a path of misery for allergy sufferers along the way. The higher the pollen count, the greater the misery. The pollen count measures the amount of allergens in the air in grains per cubic meter. Mold is another seasonal allergen. Although not a pollen, it increases seasonally and is present outside anytime the ground is not frozen. You can find out the daily pollen and mold counts in your area by watching your local weather forecast or by visiting the NAB: Pollen & Mold Counts page on the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology’s web site. We also post allergy counts daily in our office waiting areas. As a rule, pollen counts typically go up on windy days and decrease on rainy days. 

It’s nearly impossible to completely avoid spring allergies if you live in an area like Indiana. However, you can ease sniffling, sneezing, and watery eyes by avoiding your main allergy triggers. Here are a few tips. 

1. Change the filters on your furnance per HVAC recommendations. Most one inch filters should be changed monthly, thicker filters need to be changed less often. Setting the furance
fan to "On" so that air in the house is continually being filtered can also be helpful.

2. Keep windows closed. Although it can be tempting when the weather is nice, try to keep the outdoors out of doors and keep your home a safe place from allergies. 

3. Avoid outdoor activities in the early morning, when pollen counts are highest. Wearing a mask while performing outdoor activities can also be helpful, or delegate outdoor chores when possible.

4. Take your allergy medications before or at the very start of symptoms to avoid an allergy flare. It can be much more difficult to get a handle on symptoms once they are severe. Some medications work best taken on a regular, daily basis, while others can be used as needed, it's important that medications are used correctly so that the maximum benefits can be obtained. Contact us if you have any questions about your medications.

Athletes with Allergies, Asthma Can Play it Safe
As athletes of all ages take the field this summer, the most fearsome opponents for those with asthma and allergies might be triggers that can sideline even the toughest competitors.The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) and its allergist members say everyone can stay in the game and make sure it’s fun and safe by following these tips:
Give the coach a heads up – Alert the coach to any allergic condition, as well as what to do in case of an emergency. Provide detailed instructions on where medications are kept on the field and on how to use injectable epinephrine in case of a severe allergic reaction.
Ensure safe snacking – Snacks are the highlight of the game for little ones – except for the child who is allergic to peanuts, milk or other common snack food allergens. Before putting together the snack-assignment schedule, poll parents on children’s allergies to find out if any foods should be avoided. Food allergies can be serious, so if you suspect you or your child suffer from them, see an allergist to get tested and develop a plan.
Beware of unexpected opponents – Bees, wasps, hornets, yellow jackets and fire ants are some of the different critters that may hang out on or near sports fields that can pack a powerful punch if they sting or bite. Administer injectable epinephrine and call 911 in the case of a serious reaction, including hives, difficulty breathing and swelling of the tongue.
Stock the first-aid kit – Make room in the team first aid kit for latex-free bandages and antihistamines to treat minor allergic reactions. If you know you or your child has a life-threatening allergy, make sure injectable epinephrine is with you at all times.
Find the right sport – Sports that involve a lot of running – such as soccer, basketball and field hockey – can be tough for kids and adults with exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB), commonly referred to as exercise induced asthma. In addition to using your prescribed daily asthma control medications, use a short-acting, quick relief inhaler at least 20 minutes before exercise and warm up for at least 5-10 minutes before taking the field. If the amount of running is too much, consider switching to a more asthma friendly sport, such as baseball, golf or swimming. An allergist can advise you on asthma treatment options and help you manage EIB, a condition that affects up to 10 percent of the population and 80 percent to 90 percent of those with asthma.
Stop the sneezing – To help head off a mid-at-bat sneezing fit due to allergies to grass, ragweed and other pollen-producing plants, take allergy medication before the game. Wash off the pollen and keep it from spreading around the house by jumping in the shower after the game.
“Even if you have allergies and asthma, you should be able to feel good and participate in your favorite sports,” said allergist Myron Zitt, M.D., past president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. “Finding the right treatment for your allergies and asthma can help level the playing field.”

Oral Allergy Syndrome
Have you ever experienced itchiness in or around your mouth area after eating raw fruit or vegetables? Do you also have seasonal allergies?
If so, you may have oral allergy syndrome, whose symptoms occur because the proteins in some fruits and vegetables are similar to proteins in some pollens. The proteins are not the same, but similar enough to confuse the immune system and cause symptoms. Not everyone who has seasonal allergies has oral allergy syndrome, but seasonal allergies are necessary for oral allergy syndrome to occur. 

For some people this may help explain seemingly mysterious reactions to certain foods -- for example, raw apples but not cooked apples. That's because there are proteins in raw apples that are very similar to the proteins in birch pollen. Cooking the offending fruits and vegetables will "denature" or change the shapes of these proteins, so people with oral allergy syndrome will usually be able to eat them without a problem.

Because the reaction is usually localized to the mouth area, including lips, tongue, and throat, some people will choose to ignore the symptoms and continue to eat offending foods. This of course depends on the severity of symptoms and how much the person enjoys eating the specific fruit or vegetable. Antihistamines can also be helpful in reducing more mild symptoms. 

It's important to let us know if you experience any other symptoms associated with eating raw fruits and vegetables because in rare cases people with oral allergy syndrome experience anaphylaxis, a life-threatening reaction that may include swelling, blocked airways, low blood pressure, anxiety, vomiting and diarrhea. The most severe reactions require the use of an injection of epinephrine to subside, which is why many people with food allergies carry auto-injectors for emergencies.