Tag Archives: allergies

When Benadryl is Dangerous (Insert scary movie music here)

benadryl funny pic

The A,B,Cs and Zs of Antihistamines

A is for Allegra or fexofenadine, B is for Benadryl or diphenhydramine, C is for Claritin or loratadine and Z is for Zyrtec or cetirizine.

First and foremost, Benadryl can be dangerous. Everyone knows it causes sedation in most people but some of you still contend, “It doesn’t bother me!” Here is some data to the contrary. A well known study on antihistamines was written by an author named Weiler and published in 2000 in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Using a driving simulator, he compared the effects of Benadryl, Allegra, alcohol and placebo. He measured how well subjects could follow another vehicle at a set distance, how many times they got out of their lane and reaction times when responding to an obstacle put in their path. The subjects taking Benadryl had the worst performance—worse than alcohol! They also divided up the Benadryl takers inquiring which ones felt subjectively unaffected by the drug. The study found that those people still objectively had slower reaction times. So even if you think your immune to the effects of Benadryl, studies show that to be false.  The Allegra arm of the study showed no effect on cognition. A lot of UPS pilots reside here in Louisville, and this study is often cited to allow UPS pilots to take Allegra while in the air.

Benadryl can also be an issue for our children. Michael Blaiss, past president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, wrote a review in Clinical Therapeutics in 2004 about antihistamine prescribing strategies in school age children. He cites the detrimental effects of older sedating antihistamines on their “physical, social, and psychological well-being and academic performance.”

The take-home message is Benadryl should not be used routinely during the day. Newer agents such as Allegra, Zyrtec and Claritin have much better side effect profiles. Even Zyrtec cannot be called “non-sedating.” It’s also associated with sedation in some people and is therefore called “less sedating.” This becomes an issue if you operate heavy machinery or fly an airplane.

Hopefully you are still awake. Stay tuned for a blog on the ever-changing OTC nasal steroid market. Be sure to “like” my facebook page www.facebook.com/drdamin and share with other allergy sufferers.


Disclaimer: This blog is not intended to create a doctor-patient relationship with any reader. If you need personalized medical advice, contact your primary care physician or other physician in your community.


May is National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month #1in5

May is National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month. There is no cure for asthma, but asthma can be managed with proper prevention and treatment. Asthma affects 24 million Americans, and 6.3 million children under the age of 18 suffer from asthma. More than 50 million Americans have allergies – pollen, skin, latex and more, and the rate of allergies and asthma is climbing. Please join us in raising awareness for these common diseases.


If you experience allergic and/or asthma symptoms or have questions, call our team at (502) 882-2063 to learn more about finding relief.



“My Nose is Running Faster Than My Feet!”

One month from today is the KDF mini-marathon! If your spring allergies are getting in the way of your training, you may find relief by trying the following:

  1. ANTIHISTAMINES: Consider taking an oral or nasal antihistamine. (Be sure to hydrate, as antihistamines can have a drying effect and leave you feeling dehydrated sooner than usual.)
  2. WEATHER: Avoid running at peak pollen times. Check your local allergen forecast online (Pollen.com, AAAAI.org, Weather.com) or use an allergy app on your smartphone. Also, it is better to run after a rain, as opposed to clear, windy days, as there is often less pollen in the air.
  3. CLOTHING: After running, immediately launder your clothing, take a shower and wash your hair to help minimize your exposure to outdoor pollen.
  4. SALINE: Try using a saline spray or a neti pot to clear your nasal passages.
  5. AIR POLLUTION: It is best to run indoors when an ozone alert is issued. Common air pollutants can make it difficult to breath, especially for those suffering with asthma and severe allergies.
  6. LONG-TERM: Seeing a board-certified allergist can prove helpful in the long run, as he/she can decipher what allergens trigger your symptoms and develop a plan to help  your symptoms and needs.

Call us at (502) 882-2063 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Damin and his team at Allergy Partners.Layout 1


Louisville again one of the Worst “Spring Allergy Capitals”

More than 50 million Americans are living with seasonal nasal allergies. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s (AAFA) annual Spring Allergy Capitals report provides insights into cities where people are most affected by seasonal symptoms. Louisville remains in the top 5 again this spring.

If you need relief, call us at (502)882-2063 to schedule an appointment.

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Pollen! What is it and Why Does it Make Me Miserable?

The pollen count

3/22/16: The pollen count is already in the “HIGH” range.

Pollen is one of the most common causes of allergies in the United States. You’ve seen it coating your car, wafting through the air and saturating your sidewalk—-the very fine, powdery, yellowish dusting which thrives in the Kentuckiana area. Our region is known to have prolific amounts of pollen which wreaks havoc and causes an adverse immune response in many of us.

Pollen is produced by trees, grasses, weeds and flowers. It fertilizes plants of the same species. Our immune system is an amazing protector, defending the body from harmful invaders and can prevents sickness. For those with pollen allergies, the immune system mistakenly targets the pollen as unhealthy and produces chemicals in your body to fight the pollen. The pollen has now become an “allergen” and the manifested fight is known as an “allergic reaction,” “hay fever” or “allergic rhinitis.”

Do you suffer in the spring? March and April allergies are almost always due to tree pollen. (It is important to start treatment before pollen season begins.)

Do you suffer around Derby time? Your are likely allergic to grass pollen. Sufferers in the late summer and fall can be allergic to ragweed. Pollen is wind-driven, can travel hundreds of miles and survive a mild winter. (Did you know the ragweed season has increased four additional weeks in the last 10-15 years–some say due to global warming.)

Some suffer pollen allergies year-round. Symptoms include: sinus pressure, facial pain, nasal congestion, cough, scratchy throat, watery/itchy eyes, runny nose, dark circles under the eyes and a decreased taste/smell sensation.

Using Neti pots, vacuuming regularly with a HEPA filter vacuum, frequent and immediate washing of clothes that have been worn outside, closing windows, using the air conditioner in your car and home, using HEPA filters and frequent changing of your home air filters can provide some sufferers relief.

Over-the-counter and/or prescription nasal sprays, antihistamines and decongestants can provide relief for many.

If those do not work, immunotherapy (allergy shots) is shown to reduce symptoms long-term in most children and adults. Call us at (502) 882-2063 to find out your options before the pollen season is upon us!




Disclaimer: This blog is not intended to create a doctor-patient relationship with any reader. If you need personalized medical advice, contact your primary care physician or other physician in your community.

To Vape or Not to Vape


E-cigarettes can look like a traditional tobacco cigarette. The battery heats “e-liquid” which is released in aerosol form. (Photo courtesy of Ecig Click, vapour.co.uk.)

Did you know cigarette smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals? Smoking is the leading cause of preventable, premature mortality, and it is harmful to allergic and asthmatic children and adults.

A February 2016 article in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology examines the use of electronic cigarettes as an option for harm reduction in asthmatic patients who are existing smokers and are unable to quit using other smoking cessation tools. The article recognized that e-cigarettes could be safer than conventional cigarettes, but, as Dr. Fred Hsieh with the Cleveland Clinic’s Allergy and Immunology Respiratory Institute points out, they are not altogether safe. Check out just a few of the components included in every puff of this vaporized aerosol:

  • propylene glycol (airway irritant associated with decreased lung function)
  • vegetable glycerin
  • flavorings and other unregulated addititves
  • nicotine
  • formaldehyde (potentially carcinogenic in humans)

Other scary facts:

  • According to the CDC, e-cigarette usage by children ages 11-17 increased from 1.5% to 13.4% between 2011 to 2014. An estimated 2.4 million minors are vaping.
  • The e-cigarette is not federally regulated meaning that chemical additives, nicotine content and other components do not have the same safety oversight and quality controls as do regulated drugs.
  • There is still second-hand and third-hand exposure from e-cigarettes.
  • Use of e-cigarettes has prompted a “significant increase” in calls to poison control centers, and over 50% of them involve children.

If smoking cessation is your goal, randomized clinical trials comparing e-cigarettes to nicotine patches did not suggest an advantage of the e-cigarette over the nicotine patch.

E-cigarettes have only been around since 2007, so the data is still too new to fully assess the short- and long-term consequences. Therefore, given what we do know combined with what we are yet to learn, consumers should be wary of e-cigarettes as a safe alternate to cigarettes or as an effective tool in their smoking cessation quest. And if you are looking for one more reason to give pause, check out this CNN article posted Feb. 25, 2016 about an Owensboro, KY man’s pants catching on fire from his electronic cigarette battery. 



Learning to Swallow Pills – The Mini Marshmallow Method

Screen shot 2014-12-07 at 10.22.10 AMParents: do you need a no-fuss method of teaching your child to swallow a pill? Here’s a trick I’ve used for years: miniature marshmallows.

Depending on your child’s maturity, this is most often successful in children starting around age six. This method is a great way to reduce the drama and achieve success in short amount of time. And most importantly, it can save a lot of money at the pharmacy counter. Compare the cost of a year’s worth of liquid Zyrtec/cetirizine versus a year’s supply of generic Zyrtec/cetirizine tablets. The cost savings is sizeable!

  1. Purchase a pack of mini marshmallows.
  2. Tear them in half and have your child practice swallowing them with some water. They tend to slide right down.
  3. Once they have the hang of it, try putting the tablet in the mini marshmallow. (This is a trick that can be used with pets, too.)
  4. Once confident and over time, see if your child can swallow the pill by itself.

Good luck!

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Disclaimer: This blog is not intended to create a doctor-patient relationship with any reader. If you need personalized medical advice, contact your primary care physician or other physician in your community.