Blog

oral allergy syndrome

What You Need to Know About Oral Allergy Syndrome

Do you experience allergic symptoms in the mouth when eating certain raw foods? If you do, you could be suffering from oral allergy syndrome.

Oral allergy syndrome is actually fairly common for seasonal allergy sufferers. As people with seasonal allergies eat uncooked or raw fruits, vegetables, and some nuts, the immune system in their mouth can mistake certain protein in the raw food as pollens and a local allergic reaction follows.

Learn more about oral allergy syndrome including the causes and how you can treat the symptoms.

What Is Oral Allergy Syndrome?

Oral allergy syndrome (OAS) is also known as pollen-food allergy syndrome. This is caused by cross-reacting allergenic proteins found in airborne pollens and raw vegetables, fruits, and tree nuts.

The immune system of individuals with seasonal allergies recognizes similar appearing proteins in raw foods as allergens, which causes a local allergic reaction inside the mouth.

Raw foods tend to cause the most allergic reactions. Often times, the allergy sufferers won’t experience an allergic reaction when the food is heated and cooked. This is because heating changes the molecular structure of the protein and renders it non-allergenic.

What Causes Oral Allergy Syndrome?

Not everyone with a pollen allergy will experience oral allergy syndrome. Common triggers for oral allergy syndrome include:

  • Grass Pollen – cross reacts with foods including peaches, oranges, melons, tomato, and celery
  • Birch Pollen – cross reacts to foods including peaches, pear, plum, kiwi, cherry, apple, hazelnut, almond, carrot, and celery
  • Ragweed Pollen – cross reacts with foods including melons, banana, cucumber, zucchini, and sunflower seeds

What Are Oral Allergy Symptoms?

Oral allergy syndrome symptoms are typically experienced immediately after coming in contact with food. These uncomfortable allergic reactions can include:

  • Itchy mouth
  • Scratchy throat
  • Mild swelling of lips, mouth, tongue, and throat
  • Itchy ears (in some cases)

Most of these symptoms are concentrated in the mouth area and do not spread; however, there have been rare reports of more severe and systemic symptoms. Symptoms typically occur quickly as the fresh fruit or raw vegetable reaches the mouth. After swallowed or removed, the allergic symptoms may subside within minutes to one hour.

How Do You Avoid It?

The best way to avoid oral allergy syndrome symptoms is by avoiding raw foods known to be problematic. Be aware of your pollen allergies and which foods are associated with certain pollen proteins.

An allergist can help diagnose which pollens and foods cause allergic reactions by reviewing your clinical history, conducting skin pricks, and performing oral food tests with raw fruit and vegetables.

By educating yourself about the foods causing the problem, you can avoid the reaction from taking place.

What are Treatment Options for Oral Allergy Syndrome?

Though symptoms may subside in a few minutes or within the hour, don’t ignore allergic symptoms when they occur. Stop eating foods which cause an allergic reaction and take an antihistamine to relieve itchiness.

Consult with an allergist when you or your child experience oral allergy syndrome symptoms. Symptoms may occur in children as young as 3 or 4 or begin later in life for adults. An allergist can conduct tests to pinpoint which foods are causing allergic reactions and whether it’s oral allergy syndrome or another kind of food intolerance.

Interested in discovering if you suffer from oral allergy syndrome and seasonal allergies? Contact the Allergy & Asthma Specialists of North Florida for more information.

Problems in the bedroom? It May Be Your Allergies

bedroom allergy solutions

Coughing, sneezing, sniffling—if you’re an allergy sufferer, you know the drill. What’s worse is dealing with itchy, red eyes and sneezing in the bedroom, the one room in your home that should be a haven.

Did you know bedrooms can cause some of the worst exposure for allergy sufferers? It may surprise you where pesky allergens are hiding. Don’t let allergy symptoms ruin a good night’s rest. Learn more about common bedroom allergies and what you can do to avoid them.

Why the Bedroom?

The bedroom is home to a slew of allergens including dust mites, pet dander, chemicals, dust, and molds. Here you may spend 6-8 hours a day sleeping, getting ready for the day, or simply relaxing—which means you have a longer exposure to microscopic critters and particles that cause allergies and allergy-like symptoms.

Common Allergens in the Bedroom

If you suffer from allergies in the bedroom, it may be one of these three common allergens:

Dust Mitescommon dust mites that cause allergies

Bedrooms are the perfect breeding ground for dust mites. Learn more about them and how to avoid them.

What are they?

Dust mites are microscopic creatures that flourish in warm, damp conditions and often take up residence in mattresses, pillows, carpets, furniture, and fabrics. Dust mites feed on the skin cells you shed, obtain warmth from your body, and extract water from your sweat or exhaled breath. These tiny critters are completely harmless, but their microscopic droppings are known for triggering allergic reactions in allergy sufferers.

What are the symptoms?

Dust mite allergies can be mild or severe in some cases. The following are a few of the major symptoms:

  • Itchy or runny nose
  • Congestion
  • Sinus pressure
  • Cough
  • Scratchy throat
  • Watery or red eyes
  • Itchy skin

How can I avoid them?

We recommend that you wash your bed linens and dust your bedroom weekly. Minimize objects in your bedroom that collect dust such as stuffed animals or knick-knacks and protect your mattress, box spring, and pillows with special woven dust mite covers. These covers should have pores less than four microns in diameter. In extreme allergy cases, remove upholstered furniture or carpeting and replace with leather or vinyl furniture or wood, vinyl, linoleum, or tile flooring. Wash bedroom curtains on a regular basis or trade them for shades or blinds that you can wipe clean.

Animal Dander

pet animal dander allergies

If you have cats or dogs in the house, their dander could be affecting your allergies in the bedroom. Here’s how:

What is it?

Animal or pet dander are skin particles containing proteins that become airborne and may produce allergic reactions. It’s not animal hair that causes an allergy as many suspect, it’s the dander produced by their skin. Due to the small size (often smaller than pollen or dust mite particles) dander can remain in the air for long periods of time.

What are the symptoms?

Animal dander can cause a host of unpleasant symptoms including:

  • Itchy skin
  • Red, itchy eyes
  • Wheezing, coughing, or sneezing
  • Asthma symptoms
  • Trouble breathing
  • Tightness in your chest

How can I avoid it?

In extreme pet allergy situations, you may need to remove the animal from your home. To reduce your exposure to allergens in the bedroom, keep pets outdoors or away from bedrooms. Don’t allow pets to be in carpeted areas or on upholstered furniture. Vacuum the floors and furniture weekly with a HEPA filter vacuum and wash your bedroom linens each week. Wash your hands after touching your pet and give your pet a bath once a week to reduce dirt and dander.

Mold

mold causing allergies in bedroom

Mold is a silent offender that creeps in and leaves a mess in its wake. Here’s what you need to know to battle mold in the bedroom:

What is it?

Mold is a form of fungus that grows on objects such as carpet, paper, drywall, insulation, wood, and food. Molds flourish in dark, warm environments with moisture accumulation due to humidity, condensation, or water leaks. Pores can develop in as few as 24-48 hours in wet, warm conditions. Large colonies of mold that are visible to the eye are made from a network of connected multicellular filaments called hyphae. As it feeds on the organism it attaches to, the nutrients cause the mold to flourish and grow.

What are the symptoms?

The following are some common mold allergy symptoms:

  • Itchy, irritated eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Congestion
  • Wheezing, coughing, or sneezing
  • Scratchy throat

How can I avoid it?

The first thing you need to do is control the moisture levels in your home by fixing any plumbing, roof, or AC leaks right away. Keep your bedroom well ventilated and avoid using rugs or carpet in this space if possible—if that isn’t possible it’s imperative that you vacuum regularly and use HEPA air filters to decrease indoor mold spores (multiple times per week is best). Shut doors and windows during the rainy season and use your air conditioning to reduce indoor moisture. A dehumidifier is a great tool to decrease the relative humidity in your home to below 40%. Minimize other sources of molds in your bedroom by removing houseplants, damp clothing, aquariums, books, or damp rugs.

Are allergies getting the best of you? Contact the Board Certified Allergists at the Allergy & Asthma Specialists of North Florida to help diagnose or manage your allergy symptoms. Make an appointment to learn more today.

title image: Copyright: poligonchik / 123RF Stock Photo

dust mites: Copyright: Eraxion / 123RF Stock Photo

pet dander: Copyright: websubstance / 123RF Stock Photo

mold: Copyright: fotostudiod3x / 123RF Stock Photo

Is it a Rash or Chronic Hives? Here’s How to Tell

chronic hives (1)

Chronic hives are more than an uncomfortable itch begging to be scratched. Often confused with other types of rashes, chronic hives are marked by frequent outbreaks that may not have an identifiable trigger.

This skin condition affects around 20% of the population at some point in their lives. While typically not life threatening, the repetitive nature of chronic hives can cause significant discomfort  and  affect a person’s quality of life.

Read on to learn how to identify this skin condition, its symptoms and the appropriate forms of treatment.

What are Chronic Hives?

Chronic hives, also known as chronic urticaria, are hives that come and go for more than 6 weeks.

It’s difficult to determine exactly why hives occur, though some sufferers may be able to pinpoint certain trigger foods, insect bites or medications as the cause. Chronic hives may also occur in conjunction with autoimmune diseases such as  lupus, thyroid disease or rheumatoid arthritis. Other factors such as heat, stress, alcohol and even exercise can bring on a case of urticaria in susceptible individuals.

While anyone at any age can have a hive outbreak, it’s young adults and females that are most at risk for developing chronic hives.

What Do Chronic Hives Look Like?

pink and white welts from hives on back
pink and white welts from hives on back

Chronic hives often look like typical hives. An outbreak of hives can manifests  all over the body but are usually most prominent on the arms, legs and torso. They typically produce pink, red  and white puffy welts, which vary in size and shape. Some may be as small as a pen tip while others swell to the size of a dinner plate. Hives can form individually or connect to create larger patches.

The welts typically itch and may cause a brief painful, burning or warm sensation in the involved area.

How Can I Distinguish Them From Other Rashes?

Unlike other rashes, chronic hives often migrate around the body and usually respond well to allergy medications. Chronic hives are sometime associated with with angioedema, a form of tissue swelling that occurs deep in the skin. Angioedema causes swelling of the eyelids, mouth, hands, feet and sometimes can involve the throat.

The key difference between hives and other skin rashes is that each individual hive lesion rarely last more than 24 hours in one place and resolve without leaving marks or bruises. Most other rashes will last more than 24 hours in one spot and resolves slowly, leaving marks, discoloration or bruises.

How Can An Allergist Help Me Manage Chronic Hives?

Board-Certified Allergists & Immunologists are experts in the diagnosis and management of chronic hives. In addition to helping  you better understand your condition, they can often identify common aggravating triggers for your rashes.  Chronic hives can take weeks-years to resolve and often place a significant burden on quality of life.  To make matter worse, over the counter medications can leave you feeling drowsy.

The good news is that there are several very effective, safe and well tolerated treatment options available. Your allergist can help tailor the best long-term treatment plan to assure you have the  most symptom-free days as possible without undesirable medication side effects.

If you are suffering from chronic hives, contact our allergy specialists today and schedule a consultation to discuss the most effective treatments available for you.

Is it the Flu, Cold, or Allergies: How to Tell The Difference

cold flu or allergies

Feeling run down and stuffed up?

Are your eyes itchy and your nose running?

One thing is for sure—you’re not feeling like yourself. But are you suffering from allergies, the common cold, or even worse, the flu?

It’s not always easy to identify the cause as you might think. The symptoms for each of these illnesses frequently overlap. However, there are some tell-tale signs to be aware of that may help you determine what the problem is and decide the best course of action.

Study the following symptoms to make sure you’re properly treating the underlying cause of your discomfort. As always, remember discussing this with your physician is the best option.

Signs of the Common Cold

The dreaded common cold. It’s common enough for everyone to experience it, but somehow it still doesn’t have an cure. It comes around frequently enough to be a problem as adults suffer from an average of 2 to 3 colds a year.

If you’re feeling under the weather, keep an eye on the following cold-like symptoms:

  • Mild fever
  • Thick, green or yellow mucus
  • Coughing
  • Sore throat
  • Development of symptoms over a few days’ time
  • Mild body and headaches

Colds are most common in the spring and winter, but can show up any time of year.

Flu Symptoms

Flu symptoms tend to be similar to cold symptoms but are often more severe. An estimated 200,000 Americans are hospitalized due to the flu or flu-related complications each year. Some groups of the general population especially children and the elderly are more likely to suffer from life-threatening cases of the flu.

The following tell-tale signs point to the flu:

  • A high fever lasting 3 to 4 days
  • Severe body aches
  • Fatigue/exhaustion
  • Development of symptoms over a few days
  • Coughing
  • Sore throat

Like the common cold, it’s possible to get the flu at any time of year but its peak season lasts from December to February.

Allergy Symptoms

Allergies have the uncanny ability to mimic cold and flu symptoms. However, they’re not caused by viruses but instead, provoked by an allergen or allergens. Allergies may develop at any stage of life and can cause chronic symptoms.

If you suspect you have allergies, watch out for the following:

Allergies may develop any time an allergen is present.

When to Talk to an Allergy Specialist

We often think of allergies as being as simple as a sniffle or a cough, but they can progress if not cared for. An allergy specialist will help you manage allergies and help you improve your quality of life.

Allergists can identify what triggers your allergies and then determine the most appropriate course of treatment. In some cases, over-the-counter medications may be ineffective. Your allergist may prescribe medications to reduce the symptoms of your allergies and prevent reactions.

If you’re having trouble performing everyday tasks or your allergy symptoms are getting in the way of you enjoying life, it’s time to meet with an allergy specialist—contact Allergy and Asthma Specialists of North Florida to set up a convenient appointment to meet with one of our board certified allergy specialists.

Symptoms such as chronic infections, chest tightness and breathing difficulties may require immediate attention.

Normandy Blvd Office Closing Early 2/19/15

Our Normandy Blvd office will close early at 2pm next Thursday 2/19 for required continuing medical education. Please mark your calenders and make appropriate arrangements. Allergy shots will be given 8am-2pm that day. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you.

Portable Air Cleaners Demystified

We receive loads of questions about home air purifiers. Here’s a recent news article that sheds some light and has a direct link to an Consumer Reports article with a more in depth discussion and reviews. Hope this helps!

“Air cleaners make claims like “capture 99 percent of allergens and irritants,” “remove allergens like dust, pet dander and pollen,” healthier, fresher air.” Consumer Reports tested 26 portable air cleaners to see how well they work.

Testers pump contaminants into a controlled chamber, dust, as well as smoke. Some of the models tested were slow and to removed the contaminants and not terribly effective. The three poorest performers: Hamilton Beach TrueAir 0483, Hoover model WH10600 and Holmes HAP1200-U.

Consumer Reports says also stay away from electrostatic purifiers because they can emit ozone, which can aggravate allergies and asthma.

And be aware, even the best air cleaner isn’t going to be enough if you’re not very proactive about removing contaminants like vacuuming, dusting, making sure the rooms are adequately ventilated. Those things are actually much more important than just using an air cleaner.

If you still want an air purifier, Consumer Reports says opt for one that uses filters to clean the air.Consumer Reports recommends the Honeywell HPA300for $250. It’s relatively quiet and excels at removing dust, pollen and smoke.

Consumer Reports also tested whole-house filters for homes heated and cooled with forced-air. They replace the standard filter in a forced air system. The 3M Filtrete 1550 for about $30 is very good at removing dust and smoke and is one of the least expensive tested. Like many whole-house filters it will need to be installed by a professional.

More free information on buying an air purifier and ridding your home of pollutants is available at http://www.ConsumerReports.org/cro/air-purifiers/buying-guide.htm.”

This article originally appeared here:

http://www.news4jax.com/consumer-news/consumer-reports/portable-air-cleaners-put-to-the-test/29233210