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Summer Travels - For Those With Asthma June 14 2017

School's OUT and it's time to hit the road! But if you suffer from asthma, or if your children do - be sure you're prepared for summer travel with these three tips!

First, make sure you have all your medications and tools or supplies ready. Have prescriptions filled and an extra in the hopper should you run out. If your medications are filled at a nationwide chain like CVS or Walgreens, then if you get in an emergency, they should be able to cross reference your local order and supply you if you are in a situation of need. But it's best to just travel with plenty of medication. Don't leave if you only have two puffs left in your puffer! Not sure? Take an extra. Don't think you'll need your nebulizer and mask? Take it anyway. Asthma is not something to take chances with. And don't forget your peak-flow meter if that's something your doctor has asked you to keep with you. Serious flare-ups of asthma often require a measurement of how you're doing.

Second, know where you are going! Are you going to a region with higher allergens or plants, trees, or situations that are triggers for your asthma? Do the folks you'll be visiting with smoke?  Will there be food that you are allergic to? Know what you'll be doing and plan accordingly in case you might come face to face with something that will trigger an asthma attack. And while you're at it - are you aware of the medical facilities available where you are going? Is there an emergency clinic or hospital nearby? Just knowing ahead of time is a great way to be prepared.

Most importantly, if you have asthma, you should have an "asthma action plan" - the AAFA provides a great form that is so helpful. Should you get in an emergency situation where a stranger or caregiver needs to know what your treatment options are - this is a great way to communicate this information. This is also a requirement at schools for children with asthma, and many times, diagnosing or prescribing doctors will provide this for children with asthma, so when to administer their rescue medication and other parts of their asthma treatment plan is clear. 

 


Are You Allergic To Dallas? May 22 2017

Chances are, you are a Dallas native and you're used to Spring pollen and crazy weather. Similar to the weather, allergies flaring up this time of the year is very predictable. Storms are not just brewing in the air, allergies fire up too.

Part of this is because in Dallas and all of North Texas - various plants pollinate year round. We can thank the consistency of warm weather: which means different types of plants are active at different times. Our North Texas area have plants that are cycling through constant pollination. And now that the threat of freezing has passed, the grasses are starting to think about pollination for Spring and Summer. And ragweed will be next...

Understanding these pollination cycles and seasonal activities of the trees and plants can help Allergists understand and customize treatment for their patients.

Most native Texans have go-to holistic remedies like neti-pots, face masks, and essential oils as well as over-the-counter medications. We have many patients who benefit greatly from allergy shot therapies and other prescription medications.

May is a tough month for many, but with proper diagnosis and tools - you can tackle Texas allergies like a pro.

 

 

 

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Allergy and Asthma Issues Or Sinus Problems? April 23 2017

It's Spring. In Texas, and there's more than bluebonnets and beautiful wildflowers 'blooming' - allergies, asthma flare-ups and sinus issues are on the rise; and earlier than normal, too - according to reports.

Regularly known as a sinus infection or sinus disease, a sinus issue typically starts with the inflammation in the cavities behind the nose, eyes and forehead can become blocked, resulting in mucus production and buildup, and sometimes - infection.

The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology reports that approximately 31 million Americans develop a form of sinus disease annually.

While allergies symptoms are very similar, with a sinus infection - there is more 'pain' reported. This is because the swelling and inflammation within the sinuses can  cause headaches and radiated pain in the jaws and teeth. This pressure, a tell-tale sign of a sinus problem, along with cold-like symptoms including runny nose, cough, sore throat and congestion - as well as fever, swelling of the eyes, cheeks and jaws, bad breath, nausea and fatigue are also commonly reported.

To diagnose sinusitis, your physician will examine your throat, nose and sinuses for swelling and inflammation, tenderness & redness and discolored discharge. With an acute sinus disease, duration is typically three to eight weeks. If it goes on longer, it's considered 'chronic sinus disease', which can lead to other tests and possible remedies and treatments. 

However, the most common cause of sinusitis is a basic bacterial infection. Viruses and other causes do occur as well.  The treatments, such as nasal decongestants, antihistamines and nasal sprays help relieve symptoms and are standard. Sinus infections are reported to be responsible over 15 million doctor visits, more than $1 billion in sales for over-the-counter medication and $150 million for on prescription medications in the United States.

Home treatments, such as increasing fluids, hot towels and steam baths always seem to help and homeopathic remedies like teas and other alternative, Auyervedic or more natural treatments are becoming popular and more widely used.

With more severe cases, a specialist such a an allergist or ENT/otolaryngologist might be in order. If you experience the symptoms of a sinus infection - you should visit your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment before it gets too bad.  Catching it early can help you kick it faster, and avoid more problems down the road.


Spring In Full Swing - Allergies Arriving Early This Year March 06 2017

Despite some cold days, and windy, chilly nights this winter - and even though Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow to indicate 6 more weeks of winter just a few short weeks ago, Spring is arriving around 22 days early according to the National Phenology Network.

Shifts in seasons such as this can ultimately effect our health, bringing on early onset allergy suffering in the from of a longer and stronger pollen season. Another warning would be possible early attack of diseases carried by insects such as fleas, ticks and mosquitoes. With both of these threats getting an extra three weeks to build momentum and strength, it would be smart for those sensitive to really be prepared.

A high concentration of tree pollen has already been reported in several cities in the Southeast, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology's National Allergy Bureau.

So what if we have one last freeze? It's not abnormal - in 1989 we had a freeze right around this time (March 4-8 or so) and the entire city of Dallas was under ice. But officials say - even a late freeze like this would perhaps 'help'' a little but likely wouldn't slow the spread of pollen fully.

So the end of winter was quite mild, especially for us here in the Dallas, Texas area - but we are not alone:  what is known is that more than 270 cities and towns across the nation had their warmest February on record, according to the Weather Channel.

We can help.  Contact us for allergy testing - so that we can help you identify your triggers, and develop a plan to attack the runny nose, itchy eyes and asthma flares around Spring allergy season.

 


Allergic to Valentine's Day? Flowers, Candies and Perfumes - Oh My! February 14 2017

A recent article on DFW's NBC 5 titled "Are you allergic to Valentine's Day" made so much sense - and the answer of course - is YES! There are a lot of allergens surrounding the holiday of love. Let's touch on the highlights:

Flowers: florals are the #1 gift of St. Valentine's Day - with significant others recognizing their partners with the beauty of the bud. Roses are typically highly fragrant, and also have thorns that can cause skin irritations when scratched with them. If you or your loved ones are sensitive to the most popular Valentine's flower - consider some alternative beauties like orchids, tulips or carnations - these are a bit less 'invasive' for allergen-sensitive folks.

Chocolates: Always be careful and know what you and your loved ones are allergic to when it comes to foods. A simple consultation and allergy test could save a life here - because chocolates made in a factory that produces peanut candies could be deadly to someone with a peanut allergy. Also, those who are lactose intolerant might find other candies less 'hurtful' to the gut this holiday.

Perfumes: Perfumes, colognes and bath and body salts and lotions are a highly popular gift on Valentine's Day as well - so be aware if a certain scent makes you sneeze, or if it causes irritation when applied directly to your skin.

Balloons: Those with latex allergies might be sensitive to the latex balloons.

Play it safe this Valentine's Day and get them a gift certificate to our Medical Spa, Park Cities Skin Care!

 


5 Myths About Asthma January 11 2017

Is it asthma? Is it not? Sometimes it's hard to tell and asthma effects each individual in a unique way. Is it related to athletic activities, exercise or exertion - or is it allergic? It's important to receive a professional diagnosis and treatment plan, as well as an emergency plan - and learn to know your triggers.

Here the Allergy & Asthma Network has debunks:

Five common myths about Asthma:

Myth: Asthma medications are habit forming, dangerous and lose their effectiveness over time. 

Fact: Asthma medications are safe and essential for asthma management.

The benefits of asthma medications keep the disease under control and patients can lead a normally active life that includes sleeping through the night and no urgent trips to the emergency room.

No asthma medication has been shown to lose its effectiveness for patients even for long-term use.

Myth: People with asthma should not exercise, play sports or participate in gym class.

Facts: People with asthma are encouraged to lead an active lifestyle including participation in sports and gym class. A fully active life keeps you healthy and may help with weight control – essential in managing asthma. Exercise has been shown to improve lung function.

Exercise is an asthma trigger for some patients. Your doctor may recommend taking appropriate medication before exercise and keeping it handy during exercise, as well as spending time to warm up before physical activity and cool down afterward.

Myth: Asthma is only a childhood disease and is usually outgrown.

Fact: Asthma usually develops as a childhood disease – it affects 6.8 million children under 18 in the United States. Rarely outgrown, asthma usually persists into adulthood. It can appear for the first time in some adults. Your asthma may improve as your lungs get larger or your immune system adapts over time. However, family history of asthma and sensitivity to allergens as a symptom trigger still remain – as does asthma.

Myth: Asthma is not a big deal, no one dies from it, and it’s easily controlled.

Fact: About 10 people each day die from asthma, a chronic and incurable disease. Million more patients and their families are affected by it. The statistics are staggering: 26 million Americans have asthma, amounting to $56 billion on direct costs (to doctors, hospitals, medications) and indirect costs (lost work and school days). Those numbers continue to increase annually.

All asthma is serious and any flare can turn life-threatening within seconds.

Myth: If you aren’t wheezing, it isn’t asthma.

Fact: Wheezing is a whistling sound due to air passing through a narrow airway and occurs when breathing is difficult due to inflammation and constriction of airways. Wheezing is a common symptom of asthma; however the absence of wheezing doesn’t mean there isn’t an active asthma flare. It is usually audible but often can only be heard with a stethoscope. The absence of wheezing may occur if the flare is very severe and prevents any air movement in part of the lung.

Read the full article on the Allergy & Asthma Network


Winter Allergies Vs. Traditional Colds December 23 2016

In the cooler months, there are allergy triggers that will cause symptoms that mimic a common cold. Sometimes it's hard to tell if it's allergy, or a cold virus. However, once you know - it's easier to formulate a long-term action plan to manage your discomfort.

The top triggers for winter allergies are:

The Weather & Temps:  in Texas, we periodically have a hard freeze, but we have a year-round presence of allergens like pollen and spores.

Pet dander: as dogs and cats have more fur to stay warm during the cooler months, they exfoliate more often leaving more pet dander.

Dust, Mold and Mildew: With damp weather outside, and lots of holiday decor being brought out and put away - the winter months brings lots of opportunity for mold, mildew and dust.

How can you tell if it's allergy or virus?

You may think it's funny, but it's SNOT: Yep it sounds gross. You'll have snot either way - but if your nasal secretions are clear, it's likely allergies causing the problem and not a viral or bacterial infection - which usually results in yellowy or green secretions.

Discomfort:  Colds usually make you feel achy all over, where allergies result more with itchy, watery eyes.

Duration: Colds last a week or two, and allergies linger on for weeks and weeks.

What can be done for colds and allergies?

Well, there isn't much to do for a virus but allow it to run it's course. There are lots of holistic and over-the-counter medications that will help you feel better during the run of the cold virus. A bacterial infection would benefit from a round  of antibiotics, which would shorten the time you are sick and hopefully reduce the symptoms a bit.

For allergies, there are long-term medications and treatment options available - but proper diagnosis and a thorough understanding of what you are allergic to and your triggers is imperative.
Schedule a visit with Dr. Schroeder to learn more about whether you are being plagued by allergies and let us help you create a long-term solution and management plan to help you feel better NOW.

 


Are You Allergic to the Holidays? November 27 2016

Are you sneezing through the season? If you are wheezing your Christmas carols and looking like Rudolph with your 'nose so bright' you might just be allergic to some holiday tradition.

Most families celebrate with decor, that's been stored in a closet or attic - dusty from neglect for an entire year and live trees or poinsettias that our noses and airways just aren't used to.  It's hard to be in the "spirit" of the season when you are sniffling and hacking through the month of December.

Allergy Enemy #1: Christmas Trees & Holiday Decor

From Prevention Magazine: “Mold is the biggest problem with live Christmas trees,” says Marilyn Li, MD, an asthma and allergy specialist with the Los Angeles County + University of Southern California Medical Center. “Often, they are cut in advance and kept in humid environments, promoting spore growth.” Within just two weeks of bringing a tree into your home, indoor mold counts can increase significantly, according to one study.

And did you know? Real trees also still contain sap - which has terpene and other substances that can irritate skin and mucous membranes. Pollen leftover from the tree can also effect those who are allergic.  

Plus - the holiday favorite poinsettia plant is a member of the rubber tree family and contains compounds similar to those found in latex, so stay away if you have a latex allergy. Certain groups of people—such as healthcare workers and people with spina bifida who have had numerous surgeries—are more likely to be allergic to latex, says Li, and one study showed that 40% of latex-allergic individuals were also allergic to poinsettias. Prevent it: If you have a latex allergy, keep the iconic plant out of your house—not only can it give you a rash if you touch it, but inhaling the allergen can lead to serious respiratory problems, like shortness of breath and wheezing (see full article on Prevention Magazine)

Tips to tackle the tree trimming: wear long gloves, and give your trees, wreaths and garlands a good shake before bringing them inside the house. You could even hose them down or blow them with the leaf blower to remove unwanted dust & debris.

Allergy Enemy #2 - The Foods of The Season

The most common food allergens are milk, eggs, soy, fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, and wheat.  And these things are HEAVILY involved in holiday cooking. Between the pies, sides and special treats of the season - there is high potential for food allergies at the holiday table.

Be prepared: keep an Epi-Pen on hand for guests that have unexpected emergencies. If you have asthma, always carry your inhaler with you. Ask your guests before food preparation. Try to use whole foods, organic foods and non-dairy or gluten-free alternatives in your food this holiday.

Allergy Enemy #3 - Good Smells of the Season

Everyone loves the smells of the home during the holiday.  And - it's almost always artificial. Whether it's a balsam candle, or a hot-Christmas-cookie potpourri melt - the truth is, some folks are allergic to the air spays, candles and waxes that are used to make our homes smell so delightful.

Some even consider candles a source of 'indoor air pollution' and the same has been said about aerosols, and other sprays - because they release chemicals into the air that can be noxious. They can even be the reason for an allergic reaction to some who are sensitive to the ingredients.

Au Naturale: Try to use natural scents like cinnamon and cloves, or beeswax and soy based candles. And did you know? Fireplaces are unsafe for our asthmatic friends, because the ash and smoke can trigger an attack. So be sure you know your audience before lighting the yule log.


Thanksgiving Survival Guide - Food Allergies and Holidays November 22 2016

This holiday, you are probably entertaining in your home, or visiting family and friends to celebrate one another with a grand meal! This is most certainly an American tradition - but as more and more folks learn more about food intolerance and allergies - the traditional plates and dishes seem hard to prepare in a way that everyone's specific needs can be met - and also our friends and family's traditional tastes will be satisfied. We've prepared a few tips to help you this holiday season to avoid nasty reactions and discomfort due to food allergies and other intolerance with our treasured Thanksgiving sustenance.

Turkey tip: go gluten free... Some turkeys come packaged with a broth/dressing that contain wheat, which may be dangerous to some. Quick fix: omit the gravy packet and use your own recipe using 'safe' ingredients.

Limit heavy cream and butters...We know that heavy creams and lots of butter is a time tested tasty tradition that ensures satisfaction in the Thanksgiving dishes of the South. Whether it's your mashed potatoes, or your pies and cakes - look for healthier (non-dairy) substitutes for butter and milk - such as broths, rice and almond milks, olive oil and seasonings. Did you know? They even have a butter-flavored grape seed oil to give buttery goodness to your potatoes and other recipes.

Stuff it to the stuffing (and the breads!) Read ingredients on pre-packaged stuffing and dressing kits. They often use white bread - also check back of the package to ensure none of the seasonings will pose a danger to you or your guests. Find a nice recipe that uses non-gluten breads or alternatives to the high-carb white bread.