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.
Category: The Jacksonville AllerGIST!
Updated June 2020: with COVID-19 affecting many in Florida and the First coast people are opting to stay closer to home this summer. Instead of traveling for vacation, many are doing camping trips. Often people may not realize how campfire smoke and other irritants can affect their breathing and asthma. This can lead to serious health issues. Read on for more about protecting yourself from smoke and other irritants.
What to Know About Smoke Allergy and Other Respiratory Irritants
When forest fire smoke levels or other outdoor respiratory irritants are high, even healthy people can experience symptoms or health problems. It’s important to understand how forest fire smoke and outdoor irritants can affect your health, including who is most susceptible to reactions.
The Negative Effects of Forest Fire Smoke on Your Health
Forest fire smoke is a mixture of fine particles and gasses from trees and plant material. The gasses and particles can be dangerous if inhaled. Carbon monoxide is a risk to people who work near smoldering areas.
Smoke can irritate your eyes and respiratory system. This can worsen symptoms for chronic heart and lung diseases. If exposure to smoke causes you to experience serious health issues, seek medical attention immediately.
People Most Susceptible to Health Issues from Outdoor Irritants and Smoke
Those with pre-existing health conditions and those who are sensitive to air pollution may experience worse symptoms. Other groups susceptible to health issues include:
- Individuals with asthma or other chronic respiratory disease
- Individuals with cardiovascular disease
- Individuals age 65 or older
- Infants and children
- Pregnant women
- Smokers (especially those who have smoked for several years)
5 Tips to Reduce Exposure to Smoke and Other Respiratory Irritants
While the best thing you can do is limit your exposure to smoke, a combination of strategies may work best to protect you. The more you can do to limit your exposure to forest fire smoke, the more you’ll reduce adverse health effects.
Keep Indoor Air as Clean as Possible
Keep windows and doors closed at home or at work. Use a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter to reduce indoor air pollutions. In addition, remember to change your air filter on your furnace and air conditioner every few months. Avoid smoking tobacco, burning candles, using wood burning stoves or fireplaces, and vacuuming (which can stir up dust and particles).
Use the AC in Your Car
Avoid leaving your windows down and use your air conditioning on the recirculate setting for fresh, cool air.
Drink Plenty of Water
Flushing your system by drinking plenty of water helps remove irritants from your body. Drink up to reduce a scratchy throat and coughing to stay healthy during fire and pollen seasons.
Reduce Time Spent in Smoky Areas
Whether it’s a forest fire, campfire, or tobacco smoke, avoid being where smoke is present. While sometimes it may be unavoidable, less exposure to smoke is better for your health.
Avoid Outdoor Activities
Vigorous outdoor activities such as running, biking, soccer, or other sports should be avoided during times of high smoke levels or outdoor irritants. Limit your workouts to indoor gyms and sports centers.
Wear Proper Protection
In areas with high levels of forest fire smoke, a simple dust mask isn’t enough. An N95 respirator mask fits over your nose and mouth and can filter 95% of smoke particles. N95 respirators do not filter toxic gasses and vapors.
Be aware that these masks can make breathing seem difficult and may lead to increased breathing or heart rates. If you have a heart or respiratory disease, only use the mask under the supervision of your allergist or other health care clinician.
Are you concerned about exposure to forest fire smoke allergies or other outdoor allergies? Talk to an allergist at the Allergy & Asthma Specialist of North Florida about testing and a treatment plan to stay healthy this summer.
Updated: April 2020 — to address questions and concerns about the novel Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19)
Please see our message about COVID19 procedures at our clinics
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 or potentially coronavirus/COVID-19?
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.
Updated April 2020: Signs and Symptoms of COVID-19 (Coronavirus disease 2019)
We recently talked about dealing with pollen allergies here in Jacksonville and we’re well into hay fever season. Many of our patients suffer from allergic rhinitis triggered by seasonal allergens.
With that being said, here is some helpful information about allergic rhinitis, for our Jacksonville, Orange Park and St. Johns patients.
What is Allergic Rhinitis (Hay Fever)?
Allergic rhinitis — what most people commonly call “hay fever” — is a set of symptoms that people experience when they breathe in any airborne substance of which they are allergic. The majority of the symptoms affect the nose, but can also affect the eyes, upper respiratory tract and lungs.
Pollen from trees, grasses and weeds is very high in the Jacksonville. These pollens, unlike other colder climates, are present in the air most of the year. However, spring allergies are often worse in susceptible individuals with tree pollen allergy since the levels are so high between February and May. Year-round allergic rhinitis sufferers may also have allergies due to dust mite, animal dander and mold.
An interesting fact is that hay fever has nothing to do with hay nor does it cause fever. The name stuck because symptoms would strike during hay-harvesting season and the symptoms became associated with hay.
What are the Risk Factors?
So who is at risk for allergic rhinitis? A major risk factor is if you have family members who already have allergic rhinitis, or who suffer from eczema or asthma. Allergic rhinitis is also more prevalent in people who already suffer from food allergies or have asthma or eczema themselves.
What are common Allergic Rhinitis Symptoms?
There are some characteristic symptoms of allergic rhinitis. Most symptoms are physical responses to allergens, but there are behavioral characteristics as well.
The most persistent symptoms are excessive nasal secretions or a runny nose and post-nasal drip. Nasal congestion is common. Itchy, red, swollen eyes and dark rings around the eyes (“allergic shiners”) come with hay fever, as does coughing, sneezing, and sore throat.
While these symptoms are frustrating, it may be helpful to remember what your body is doing: an allergen is invading your body and your body is mounting a defense to get rid of the irritant. Sneezing, coughing, and a runny nose all help to get rid of whatever is bothering you.
A common behavioral symptom is the “allergic salute.” To relieve irritation and drainage of mucus from the nose, an allergy sufferer will instinctively and habitually wipe their nose in an upward motion with the palm of their hand. This action clears mucus from the nose and temporarily opens the nasal passages allowing for clearer breathing. Unfortunately it also helps the spread of germs and doesn’t offer real relief. Disrupted sleep and fatigue may also be secondary to allergic rhinitis.
What are the treatment options for Hay Fever sufferers?
The most effective treatment for hay fever is to avoid what ails you but we realize that isn’t always an option especially with pollen allergens. For this reason there are a numerous treatment options available.
For our patients who suffer from allergic rhinitis in Jacksonville, we customize a personal allergy treatment based on your medical history and lifestyle needs. Not everyone has allergies and each allergic individual has their own specific allergy profile, similar to a fingerprint. Therefore, the first step in proper treatment is to determine your specific allergen responses by performing skin testing to regional allergens. We can then discuss specific allergen control measures depending on your sensitivities. Next we can prescribe a variety of treatment options using either medications or immunotherapy (allergy shots).
Environmental Control Measures
Once a patient’s specific allergens are identified, we are able to discuss measures to minimize exposure to the culprit allergens. While this may be difficult depending on the allergen, it is an essential and non-invasive component of allergy care.
These treatments could include prescription or over-the-counter recommendations such as corticosteroids (nasal sprays), as well as antihistamines, decongestants, or leukotriene modifiers (for example, Singulair), nasal saline irrigations and other therapies. Each of these medications work differently and may have different side effects. Therefore it is important for an allergist to tailor medical therapy to your symptoms and allergens.
If you are one of our patients who do not respond positively to medication or would rather not take medications another option for treatment may be immunotherapy or allergy shots. This method provides injections of small amounts of allergen, over the course of weeks to years, with the goal of making your body’s immune system less sensitive to allergens. With this form of treatment it may be possible to eliminate the symptoms of allergic rhinitis.
We are in the heart of hay fever season here in Jacksonville. If you are suffering and need relief, call 904-730-4870 or contact us to schedule an appointment at one of the four Allergy and Asthma Specialists of North Florida locations around Jacksonville – including in Orange Park on Kingsley Ave., Mandarin area on San Jose Blvd., or on the Westside off Normandy Blvd..
Compared to the rest of the U.S., midwinter and early spring in Jacksonville is a really beautiful time of year.
Although, our mild temperatures tend to attract folks from more frigid regions, that doesn’t mean our “cool” seasons are completely free of any downsides. In fact, if you’re allergic to tree pollen — one of the most common allergens we have here on the First Coast — you know this all too well.
Another downside? Jacksonville regularly ranks among the Worst Cities for Spring Allergies. In 2019 Jacksonville came in at #48 in the US (which, unfortunately, is worse than 2018 when Jax was at #51). We can expect 2020 will again see Jacksonville ranking as one of the most challenging cities for seasonal allergy sufferers.
Across most of the country, trees don’t release their pollen until early spring. But, thanks to our temperate climate here in North Florida, local trees usually start producing an abundance of pollen starting in early February (and sometimes as early as December). Because of the warm early January we’ve had, it is possible for pollen season in 2020 to kick off in late January.
If you suffer from tree pollen sensitivity, here’s a helpful guide for tree pollen allergies and our best advice for controlling a reaction this spring season.
It’s common for people with allergy symptoms to go directly to an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctor for treatment. ENT doctors are surgeons who are experts in resolving structural problems involving the head, face, sinuses, nose, throat and voice box. Allergist/immunologists are expert physicians who manage inflammatory (allergic) conditions of the nose, sinuses, ears, throat and lungs without surgery. Symptoms such as trouble breathing, sinus pressure, episodic ear discomfort, or a raspy voice can be caused by allergies and may not require surgery.
If you’re wondering whether your symptoms require visiting an Allergist or ENT doctor, continue reading to help decide the right course of action for you.
With pumpkins everywhere and stores filled with Spiderman costumes, it’s almost time for what may be kids’ favorite holiday — Halloween.
Their excitement, however, is tempered by parents’ caution about their children’s safety. For parents of a child with allergies, the concerns are even greater.
The good news is that there is a lot you can to do ensure your kids have a safe, fun Halloween. Here are four tips that can help:
Alexander Fleming first stumbled on penicillin as he grew bacteria in culture dishes in his London lab during September of 1928. Mold accidentally grew in the dishes and he noticed the mold had developed clear areas around itself where the bacteria could not grow. His discovery, and the subsequent scientific initiatives that allowed penicillin to be made widely available, is known as one of the greatest advancements in modern medicine.
Before the availability of penicillin, many bacterial infections were simply untreatable. People with life-threatening blood poisoning from a simple cut would be cared for in a hospital with little more than a “wait and see” approach. Today, penicillin comes in many forms and is still widely used to combat a range of bacterial infections. But in recent years, more and more patients have reported symptoms of penicillin allergies. In fact, according to the CDC, some 10% of patients in the U.S. report having had an allergic reaction to penicillin.
Read on as we explore how and why people develop allergies, proper identification, and what you can do to treat and prevent reactions.
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.
It’s back-to-school time again, and if you’re the parent of a child in Jacksonville who suffers with allergies or asthma, it can also be a stressful time.
Food allergies affect approximately one in 13 kids. That means that in the average classroom, there are about two students who are coping with some form of food allergy. Of these students, nearly 40 percent have a history of severe allergic reactions or anaphylaxis. Parents, teachers, and school officials need to be aware of the potentially life-threatening situations that can arise and be ready to handle them should they strike.
Here, our board-certified allergists offer advice and resources for allergy- and asthma-sensitive kids and back-to-school preparedness.