Category: The Jacksonville AllerGIST!

Fall allergies jacksonville fl

The Complete Guide to Fall Allergies in Florida—2017

Most people in Florida look forward to autumn with its pumpkin spice lattes, mild sun and cooler air. But if you’re one of the estimated 40 million fall allergy sufferers in the U.S., this time of year can be very unpleasant.

It doesn’t have to be that way, though…

With the proper precautions and correct allergy treatments, you can enjoy all that autumn has to offer.

While most people often associate allergies with spring and the pollen produced by flowering plants, fall can be the worst season to deal with allergies. As the weather here in Jacksonville cools, plants tend to release more pollen and the moist, cool air leads to increased mold growth on leaves and other surfaces.

Combined, these factors can trigger severe allergic reactions.

What are fall allergy symptoms?

Fall allergy symptoms are not much different than what you would expect at other times of year. Most people refer to their symptoms as hay fever, while doctors refer to it as seasonal allergic rhinitis.

Whatever you call it, symptoms include:

  • Itchy, watery, and stinging eyes.
  • Coughing and wheezing, potentially leading to asthma for sufferers.
  • Scratchy throats and excessive saliva
  • Upset stomach
  • Worsening eczema
  • Life-threatening asthma attacks in extreme cases.

What are the most common Florida fall allergens?

Here in Florida, most fall allergies are caused by either weed pollen or mold spores. Because our weather provides for longer growing seasons, grass and mold pollen allergies tend to extend well into November.

Here are the most common culprits we have to contend with:

Ragweed

ragweed fall allergies
Common Ragweed plant

This is probably the number-one cause of fall allergies. Ragweed thrives all over the Central and Eastern United States, from far north to deep south. If you have hay fever symptoms in the fall, it’s almost certainly due to ragweed.

Though ragweed starts to release it’s pollen with cool evenings and warm, humid days in August, it can continue well last into September through October.

Approximately 75% of people who are have spring plant allergies are also allergic to ragweed.

Additionally, ragweed pollen gets around. The amazing thing is that even if ragweed pollen isn’t common where you live, wind blown ragweed allergens can travel for hundreds of miles!

Common Ragweed

It can grow as tall as five feet, with leaves that are arranged alternately and leaf blades that are long and have deep divisions in them. The flowers are not “showy” and result in small, green or yellow spikes.

Giant Ragweed

Fittingly named, giant ragweed can grow up to 15 feet high, with stems that have multiple branches and hairy leaves that grow opposite of each other (until you get high up the weed). The leaves are sandpaper-rough and rounded.

Both types of ragweed release their pollen in late summer and continue to saturate the air through the first frost (which doesn’t happen often here in North Florida).

One ragweed plant is capable of producing more than one billion grains of pollen per season.

Treatment and Defense against Ragweed Allergies

The best defense is a good offense.

With proper weed control, you can get rid of the ragweed around your home. Remove any ragweed plants you find around your property and have your yard treated to kill weeds and control the pollen release near your home.

Also do not wait to contact your allergy specialist to plan your allergy treatments. Allergy immunotherapy treatment involves administering small doses of an allergen to get your body used to it and induce long-term tolerance of the allergen.

Mold Allergies

Mold is found wherever the weather is damp and cool. While we don’t have long-term cool weather, we do have a good amount of humidity, and the cooler fall air (which can dip into the 40s during the evening) can lead to an increase in mold growth for North Floridians. Molds grow especially well in decaying plant matter, such as leaves and grass clippings, as well as compost piles and rotting, wet wood.

allergy causing dead leaves
Leaves and debris can carry mold allergens

The first defense is to clear leaves and piles of plants that could invite mold growth, and fix or remove rotting wood. Don’t forget to look around your house (including inside) where dampness occurs and where mold growth may hide.

According to our friends at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI), our weather plays a significant role in how bad mold allergies will be.

The damper the conditions, the more mold there will be. Unfortunately, forecasts for the coming fall appear to favor mold conditions as temperatures will continue to be warm with higher humidity and the potential for frequent showers and thunderstorms, according to Accuweather’s fall forecast: “humidity will remain high across the region with few cooldowns predicted until late in the season.”

Mold spores spread through the air similar to the way pollen allergens do, but there are two major differences: Mold spreads easily indoors and does not die off with a cold snap — it will just go dormant until temperatures are warm enough to bring it out of it’s dormancy.

This means mold can reappear here in Jacksonville with the first early signs of spring in late February.

Treatment and Defense against Mold and Spore Allergies

This is another case where taking precautions can really help limit your and your family’s exposure to mold.

First and foremost, clean up all dead and decaying plant material from around your house, rake up those leaves, get rid of rotting wood, clear your gutters of debris, and clean up compost and garden beds.

Inside your house, consider investing in a good dehumidifier. Do your best to keep humidity levels low—below 50 percent is ideal within your house. In your garage and attic, make sure boxes aren’t damp and ensure insulation hasn’t gotten wet from the heavy rains we’ve been experiencing. Attics and garages can be a major incubator where mold can grow.

If allergy symptoms hit, make sure to visit your allergist. Mold is a potent asthma trigger and you’ll want to have your inhalers ready and have your allergy and asthma management plan in place. If you’ve only recently developed allergies, your allergy specialist can test for your specific allergies to pollens and molds, which will help determine if you should start allergy shots. Immunotherapy is a proven method for controlling fall allergies.

Other Seasonally Related Triggers

While people think of “seasonal allergies” as referring to grass, pollen and mold allergies, there can also be other allergy triggers that are closely tied to specific seasons. Among other fall allergy triggers:

  • Smoke (from fall campfires)—Fall weather in Jacksonville makes for ideal s’mores roasting time and a small bonfire makes the early evenings a bit more cozy—but if the smoke from campfires results in an asthma attack, then it’s no fun at all. Since smoke is a common asthma trigger, always sit upwind of the smoke and keep your distance from the fire to prevent an asthma flare-up.
  • Insect bites and stings—for insect allergy sufferers, certain bugs around your yard can be more than just a nuisance. An estimated two million Americans are allergic to insect stings, which can cause the life-threatening allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis. Anyone with an insect allergy should always carry an allergist prescribed epinephrine. Additional steps you can take to reduce insect stings is always wear shoes in the yard, keep food covered and not drinking from open soft drinks which attract bugs. Another thing you can do is hire a professional pest control company to treat for insects around your yard and home.
  • Candy ingredientsHalloween is almost upon us and Thanksgiving is right behind, many of these holiday’s most popular foods—especially among children—can lead to dangerous allergic reactions for food allergy sufferers. Make sure to check food ingredients and let others know about yours or your children’s food allergies.

Additional Tips to Manage and Control Your Fall Allergies

  • When possible, stay inside and keep doors and windows closed when pollen is at it’s highest (usually in the morning or midday)—Like our Facebook Page to get daily pollen counts in our area or visit Pollen.com for your own local area.
  • Before you turn on the heat in your house for the first time, make sure to clean the heating vents and change filters. Sometimes mold and other allergens get trapped in the vents over our humid summers and will fill the air in your house once the heat kicks on.
  • Invest in a HEPA filter for your home’s HVAC system. These filters force air through a fine mesh and traps harmful allergens and particles such as pollen, pet dander, mites, and tobacco smoke.
  • Use a dehumidifier to keep the air inside your home below 50% humidity.
  • Wear a mask when working outside and in your yard so you don’t breathe in mold spores—this is especially important if you are raking leaves or picking up decaying grass clippings.

With proper care and clean up, and some preventative medications, you can enjoy the great fall weather we have here in Jacksonville. Contact us to schedule an appointment for allergy screenings or to discuss an allergy management plan.

header design courtesy of Canva.com

pollen allergies in jacksonville

10 Tips For Dealing With Pollen Allergies in Jacksonville

One of the more common allergy and asthma problems we see in North Florida are our patients’ responses to pollen. Pollen is a potent allergen that consists of microscopic, grains that are released by plants, then are carried to other plants by wind as part of nature’s pollination process. When pollen is being dispersed, it can be easily inhaled into sensitive nasal passages and trigger an allergic response. When you are allergic to pollen, your body sees it as an invader and mounts a defense that can result in watering eyes, constricted airways and a runny, itchy nose.

Here in Florida, pollen can be very difficult to avoid since each type of pollen in our area is released at different times. Our pollen seasons tend to begin earlier and last longer than those in other states and can be a year-round problem. Typically, Florida’s pollen seasons are December to May for tree pollen, April to November for grass pollen and July to November for weed pollen.

While we can’t control the seasons or the amount of pollen in the air, there are some things we can do to limit the extent of our exposure and our response to it.

Pollen Allergies in Jacksonville: Top 10 Tips to Control Them

Keep Windows at Home and in Cars Closed

When you’re experiencing allergy symptoms during pollen seasons, it’s best to keep your house and car windows shut at all times. While we have some beautiful weather here in Jacksonville, opening windows allows the pollen to get into your car or home and settle on every surface. Once pollen has accumulated on surfaces, even cleaning them can increase the possibility of an allergic reaction.

Use “Recirculation” with your Car’s AC

When you’re riding in the car, keep the air conditioning on the “recirculation” mode. This works to keep the already-filtered air circulating in the car. If the air conditioner is not needed, close all the vents. The vents still allow air flow when the air conditioning is off, so closing them will limit the pollen that makes it into the interior of your car.

Keep Air Conditioning Units Serviced and Clean

While there is no solid evidence that cleaning your air conditioning ducts can help you control your allergies, it is still a good idea to take the precaution of having your air conditioning units cleaned and serviced by an air conditioning company in Jacksonville before allergy season sets in. It is also a good idea to have your air conditioner set to recycle the air in your home (similar to the recirculation setting in your car). Getting your air conditioning serviced and your filters replaced with a HEPA filter can also reduce the amount of allergens in the air around you.

Pay Attention to How Much Pollen You Bring in your House

Limit how much pollen you are tracking into your home, especially into your bedroom. When you come in from the outdoors, take a shower immediately and change clothes. For women especially, hair traps a good amount of pollen, so it’s important to wash your hair before bed each night.

Limit Your Time Outdoors in the Early Mornings

Pollen counts in Jacksonville tend to be highest in the mornings, typically between 5:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. Limit your exposure by avoiding outdoors when pollen counts are highest. If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, try to schedule your outings for the afternoons instead of the mornings. If you suffer from severe pollen allergies, you might consider engaging in indoor sporting activities only during the peak of pollen season.

Avoid Tackling Lawn and Outdoor Work

Lawn mowing will stir up settled pollens, so mowing duties should be left to family members who aren’t allergic to pollen if at all possible. Wear a protective mask and eye protection while doing yard work during your pollen season. If that’s not an option, consider hiring a local lawn care and control company.

Look Out for the Pollen on Your Pets

House pets that spend time outdoors will bring pollen indoors on their fur. Be sure to wash your pets at least one or two times per week during your peak allergy season. Always keep your pets off your bed and preferably out of your bedroom altogether.

Keep Bedroom Linens Clean

Wash bed linens at least once per week to get rid of any pollen that may have settled there. When doing laundry, avoid using an outdoor clothesline during the pollen seasons.

Carpets are Pollen Traps: Keep them Clean

Keep carpets vacuumed and clean. Vacuuming will remove pollen and other allergens (like pet dander) that have settled in your carpets. It would also be a good idea to steam clean your carpets at the beginning of the allergy season. Either do it yourself or have a professional Jacksonville carpet cleaning company do it for you.

Be proactive and aware!

Check the pollen reports during allergy season. This will help you prepare for your day and know what to expect. For convenience, the Jacksonville area pollen forecast is regularly posted on our website at www.JaxAllergy.com.

Allergic reactions to pollen can be a frustrating and annoying part of your life, but following these tips can help limit your immune system’s response. If you believe your symptoms are worse than normal or you aren’t sure what’s causing your reactions, contact us to schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified Jacksonville Allergy Specialists.

how to deal with pet allergies

Pet Allergies and Kids: What Parents Need to Know

Pet allergies are your body’s physical reaction to an animal. People are usually allergic to the pet dander (an animal’s skin flakes), but they can also be allergic to a pet’s urine, saliva and even feces.

Allergic reactions to pet dander are not due to the animal’s fur, because fur itself is not an allergen. Fur does trap pollen and dust; however, and the skin flakes that make up dander can trigger allergic reactions. If your child has pet allergies and breathes in dander or comes in contact with saliva or other less “benign” pet products (i.e., droppings), his body will go on alert and may release histamine and other chemicals in response. Histamine acts by inflaming the nose and airways and causes the well-known pet dander allergy symptoms such as runny nose, watery eyes and sneezing.

What Kinds of Pet Dander Allergy Symptoms Will My Child Have?

Good question!

If your child seems to have year-round symptoms such as nasal congestion, runny nose, itchy or watery eyes and frequent sneezing indoors (as opposed to just having them happen at certain times of the year), these are signs that your child may have an allergy to dust mites, mold, or your pet.

In the case of year-round symptoms, you will need to do a little work–and with your allergist’s help– determine if it’s your pet or something else causing the reactions.

Before scheduling that appointment though, do a little detective work yourself…

First, watch your child playing with the pet. You want to try to pay attention to how he is before and after being in contact with the animal. It might also help to have your child spend time away from the house, say a weekend sleepover at Grandma’s or some other place without pets to determine if the symptoms have cleared up. When you re-introduce him to the pet, pay attention to his body’s reaction.

By the way, just removing the pet won’t help — there is likely plenty of pet dander left around to trigger a reaction in the animal’s absence.

If you believe that your pet is causing the allergies, it’s time to schedule an appointment with an allergy specialist. Depending on the symptoms, we may prescribe an antihistamine to handle the reactions. But if the symptoms are more intense or impact quality of life, then you will want to find out exactly what your child is allergic to and what the best treatment options are.

One thing to note: some people with allergic symptoms of the nose or eyes are fearful that if they get tested for pet allergies and are found allergic,  that we will immediately recommend rehoming the pet. We completely understand that pets are ‘part of the family’ for many of our patients. We are very pet friendly and usually work to help our patients tolerate their pets without having to rehome them.

The way allergists determine what your child is allergic to is commonly through a skin prick or skin scratch test, also known as allergy testing. Although it looks like it hurts, in reality it only involves small indentations or “pricks” on the upper layer of the skin. The allergist places a drop of an allergen extract at each scratch location. These extracts include animal dander, mites, pollens, and plant and food extracts. If your child is allergic to any of the extracts, the small bumps like mosquito bites will immediately appear in the test spots. These bumps are a mild immunologic reaction to the allergen extract and are indicative of allergies.

Once all of the testing is done, the only definitive way to know for certain if the family pet is an issue is to remove the pet from your home and do a deep cleaning (especially of the carpets and anywhere the pet has slept). Although direct exposure to your pet may be over, it can take up to six months for the allergen levels in your house to fall enough to stop the reactions.

Is it Possible to Prevent My Child from Developing an Allergy to Our Pet?

Probably not — some children are genetically predisposed to develop some sort of allergy. But if your family is set on having a pet then then do your best to keep the indoor environment as clean and as free of dander as possible

Also, be prepared for allergy symptoms to appear later on. It can take months of exposure before a child begins to have reactions to an animal.

Are Some Pets More Allergenic or Problematic Than Others?

Although it would seem like some breeds or species of animals would be more problematic than others, there is no scientific evidence to prove that. Even though some say that short-haired animals are less allergenic than their long-haired counterparts, this simply isn’t true since it’s not the fur but the dander (skin cells) that causes the reactions. Even a hairless dog is an allergic dog. Keeping your pet well groomed and washed can help prevent dander shedding, but that won’t entirely eliminate the risk of allergic reaction.

One reason people believe cats are more of a problem is because their dander is harder to avoid. Cat dander is smaller and more “sticky” than dog dander. This allows it travel further through the air and stay on surfaces longer.

Some parents opt for small pets like hamsters or other rodents for their allergic children, but even these animals can lead to allergies when children come in contact with their droppings or other body fluids. Think about their environment: when they’re in their cages they cannot avoid their droppings. This gets in their fur and then can cause reactions when your child handles them.

Birds are a somewhat different story. Although extremely rare, bird droppings can cause a chronic lung reaction known as “bird-fancier’s lung.” Symptoms include progressive shortness of breath, fatigue and scarring of lung tissues.  More commonly, we often treat patients who are allergic to the feathers for the bird.

If a pet is a “must-have,” consider our scaly friends: fish and reptiles. Some types of lizards can be very easy to care for, easy to clean and are very friendly. They still don’t make the perfect pet, though: reptiles can carry salmonella, so may not be best suited for small children.

If you do opt for this type of pet, you should follow a few basic safety tips. Make sure your child washes his or her hands after playing with the pet, don’t kiss the pet, and keep the pet in a regularly cleaned cage that’s away from your dining area.

What’s the Best Way to Treat Pet Allergies?

The best treatment option depends on the kinds of reactions your child has to his pet. Typically, for common allergic reactions of the eyes or nose, you can get a prescription medicine to counter the symptoms. Please be aware that some people think they can just take any over-the-counter product but many of these often have undesirable side effects, such as drowsiness. Fortunately, there are several non-drowsy preparations available over the counter these days.

Allergen immunotherapy, or “allergy shots”, is the ultimate allergy therapy for many people with allergies. It works by retraining the immune system to be more tolerant of environmental allergens. Immunotherapy is a long-term solution and often provides decades of relief. This is most beneficial in cases where someone cannot avoid exposure to the animal or if the allergic reactions cannot be relieved with medications.

What Else Can Be Done to Minimize Exposure to Pet Allergens?

Realistically, you may not be able to avoid all of the common allergens, but there are some steps you can take to reduce exposure:

  • Let pets out of the house as often as possible. If that’s not possible, try to restrict your pet to non-carpeted areas of the house and definitely keep it out of your child’s bedroom. Also keep pets off of furniture! The upholstery on your couch is a pet-dander magnet.
  • Invest in an air cleaner or purifier, and/or upgrade your filters. Keeping the tabby cat to one room won’t solve the problem in the other rooms. Air currents still spread the allergens, but you can fit your heating and air conditioning system with an upgraded filter. This alone won’t solve all problems, however, since the pet dander that has fallen on surfaces isn’t airborne.
  • Perform a thorough cleaning regularly. Upholstered furniture, carpets, bedding and even your walls can capture pet dander. If possible, remove carpeted flooring and replace with hard-surface flooring. If this isn’t feasible, make sure you vacuum and dust regularly (every other day is good); this will go a long way toward reducing the amount of allergens in your house.
  • Change your child’s clothes after he is done playing with the pet. Have your child wash his hands regularly and have him avoid touching his eyes or other sensitive parts of his face prone to a reaction. Make sure your child bathes or showers before bed to avoid bringing the allergens into his room and bedding.

We realize that pets often become part of the family and we are confident that through proper treatments you and your children will be able to enjoy your pets without having to remove them from the home.

All of the medications, immunotherapy and cleaning measures will not guarantee the eradication of pet dander allergies, but with the right care and treatment, you can keep allergies under control.

If you believe you or your child has pet allergies, contact Allergy and Asthma Specialists of North Florida today at 904-730-4870 or on our site at www.JaxAllergy.com and schedule an appointment for allergy testing.

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.

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

Pregnant Mother Dies from Allergic Reaction to Wasp

 

wasp2n-5-webAnother tragic death from anaphylaxis. Immediate epinephrine administration offers the best chance for surviving life threatening allergic reactions. Every minute counts, which is why it is so important to carry the epinephrine injector with you at all times if you have a severe allergy to insect venom or foods.

 

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/pregnant-va-mom-of-four-dies-stung-wasps-article-1.1888154