Tag Archives: fall allergies

Is Kentucky’s Fall Allergy Culprit Impacting You?

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Louisville’s pollen count 9/12-9/14.

If you’ve seen the weather forecast this week, you may have noticed the high ragweed pollen level alerts. This is problematic for many, as it is estimated 15-20% of Americans suffer from ragweed allergy. This green flowering weed (17 different varieties, not to be confused with Goldenrod, Kentucky’s state flower) makes millions of us miserable with runny noses, itchy throats and burning eyes.screen-shot-2016-09-12-at-8-15-22-am

A single ragweed plant can produce one billion pollen grains per season, and the lightweight pollen grains can be carried up to 400 miles in the wind! Ragweed is very hardy and can be found in vacant lots, the side of the roads, parks and fields; it can thrive in poor soil conditions. In our area, the ragweed pollination ends around the time of the first frost.

Also, some people with ragweed allergy experience an itchy throat or mouth after eating some common fresh fruits and vegetables. The condition is called oral allergy syndrome and an allergist can help you diagnose and manage your symptoms.

What can you do?

  • See an allergist to determine the culprit of your allergies.
  • There are over-the-counter and prescription medications which can help reduce pollen allergy symptoms including nasal sprays, antihistimines and decongestants.
  • If these medicines do not provide relief, you may be a candidate for immunotherapy (allergy shots).
  • Avoidance can help lessen symptoms. Keep windows closed and use a HEPA filter. Early mornings are the best time to get outside since ragweed is a late-morning pollinator.

Call our office today at (502) 882-2063 to schedule an appointment to help you figure out your allergies and come up with a treatment plan that works for you.

 

 

 

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Courier-Journal: Dr. Damin Addresses Fall Allergies and Finding Relief

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Sneezy and miserable this fall? Here’s why.

Ragweed is rearing its devilish head in the Louisville area, bringing on sneezing, itchy eyes and other irritating symptoms for those who are allergic to it.

The season, which typically begins in August, will last for the next several weeks, said Dr. Wes Sublett, an allergy and immunology specialist with Family Allergy & Asthma.

“All the way through September, you’re going to have high, high ragweed concentrations,” Sublett said. And “ragweed persists all the way until the end of October when we get a couple of hard freezes.”

If you’re miserable, you also could be reacting to other fall weeds, mold or Kentucky’s state flower, goldenrod, said Dr. Derek Damin of Allergy Partners of Louisville.

The allergies can overlap and lead to the same kinds of symptoms, such as itchy nose, runny nose, sneezing, postnasal drip, itchy and teary eyes and even asthma flares, said Damin, an allergist. Some people also complain of headaches and ear issues.

“Without skin testing, it’s hard to say specifically” which allergy the person has, he said.

While some people may get adequate relief from taking a generic Zyrtec (cetirizine) on an “as-needed basis,” others may need multiple categories of medications year-round to get the best results, Damin said. “It depends on the individual.”

Getting a jump on the season by, for example, starting sublingual tablets (Ragwitek under the tongue) three months in advance, can be helpful, Damin said.

But if you didn’t do that, there is hope. “A lot of your antihistamines can kick in, in as little as an hour,” he said. “It’s never too late to start.”

Many, including Allegra (fexofenadine), are available without a prescription, he said.

Other medications that might be helpful include nasal steroids such as Flonase (fluticasone) and Nasacort (triamcinolone), antihistamines such as Claritin (loratadine), and eye soothers, such as Zaditor (ophthalmic ketotifen) and prescription Pazeo (olopatadine hydrochloride), Sublett said.

Some nose sprays may take a couple of weeks to provide a noticeable benefit, but “even starting them now will help you well into September and October,” Damin said.

Nasal sprays and oral decongestants may help people who get allergy-related headaches, Damin said, but patients with severe symptoms may need to see a headache specialist or a neurologist.

When choosing a medication, be sure to familiarize yourself with the side effects. For example, drowsiness can be a significant issue with some drugs, such as Chlor-Trimeton (chlorpheniramine) and Benadryl (diphenhydramine), Damin said.

“Kids who go to school on sedating antihistamines may have a 10 percent decrease in their academic performance,” Damin said.

Consider seeking the advice of a qualified medical professional for guidance.

“If you know that you’re having problems during August and September and you suspect that it’s ragweed, the best thing to do is to see a board-certified allergist to confirm your ragweed allergy and then talk about therapy options, which may include medications or immunotherapy,” Sublett said.

Allergy shots are a type of immunotherapy. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology describes them this way: “Allergy shots work like a vaccine. Your body responds to injected amounts of a particular allergen, given in gradually increasing doses, by developing immunity or tolerance to the allergen.”

In other words, immunotherapy can help to “change your immune system to get rid of the problem,” Sublett said.

However, the shots don’t work right away. There’s a build-up phase that may include getting shots once or twice a week for say three to six months, then taking maintenance shots (with a longer period between shots) once the effective dose has been reached, according to the academy.

Damin noted that “oftentimes, when patients first start allergy shots, until those shots become therapeutic, (patients) will still have to rely pretty heavily on their medications to suppress their symptoms.”

A small percentage of people don’t benefit from allergy shots, but patients should give their shots “at least a good six months at maintenance levels before they deem themselves a non-responder,” Damin said.

If your shots don’t seem to be working, there’s also a chance that you were misdiagnosed or that the dose isn’t high enough, he said.

Beyond shots and medications, allergy sufferers may get some relief from avoidance measures, such as keeping windows closed, wearing a mask (preferably the NIOSH 95 type) for yard work, taking a shower afterward and using a high-efficiency air filter on their heating and air-conditioning systems, Sublett said.

Some asthmatics benefit from avoidance as well as various treatment strategies, from steroid inhalers to short-acting medications that ease bronchospasms and wheezing, Damin said.

“We’ve seen numerous patients where the fall allergy season is causing significant respiratory symptoms and asthma symptoms, leading to loss of workdays and a diminished quality of life in terms of being able to breathe on a normal basis,” he said.

Reporter Darla Carter can be reached at (502) 582-7068, dcarter@courier-journal.com or on Facebook at DarlaCarterCJ.

ALLERGY TIPS

See a board-certified allergist for advice.

Try over-the-counter or prescription drugs.

For longer-term benefit, consider allergy shots.

Ask about taking sublingual tablets before your allergy season starts.

Use avoidance measures, such as keeping your windows closed and wearing a mask during yardwork.

Consider using a nasal rinse. If you don’t have a sterilized solution, use boiled water or distilled water to reduce risk of infection.

Sources: Louisville allergists Derek Damin and Wes Sublett


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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.

Fall Allergy Triggers and Symptoms

Screen shot 2014-09-17 at 4.53.55 PMRagweed is fall’s main allergy trigger. We can find this weed in parks and fields throughout the Kentuckiana area. Unfortunately, its pollen impacts our allergies mid-August through the first hard freeze.

Mold is another indoor (think humidifiers, basements and bathrooms) and outdoor (think piles of damp leaves) fall trigger.

Dust mites are a year-round trigger, but fall dust mite levels can increase 2-3 times in late autumn compared to summer levels (studies show dust mite allergen peaks were correlated with relative humidity peaks 2 months prior). Additionally, colder temperatures drive people inside where there is little escape from dust mites.

If you suffer with runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing, coughing, sore throat, itchy eyes/nose/mouth, pressure in the cheeks and/or nose, dark circles and/or ear popping, call us at (502) 882-2063. We will work to help you find relief.


Be sure to subscribe to receive updates by email (scroll up and hit the “Follow” button on the right)? Please “like” my facebook page at www.facebook.com/drdamin, follow me on Twitter and share this page 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.