By following these 8 commonsense tactics from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), you can get ahead of your allergies and keep them in the rear-view mirror all season long.
(BPT) - Spring. The time of year when, as poet Alfred Lord Tennyson famously said, a young man’s (and woman’s) fancy "lightly turns to thoughts of love." That is, of course, if you're not sneezing, coughing or dealing with itchy eyes. Spring allergies seem to get worse every year. Is there anything you can do to avoid them?
Yes, says allergist Todd Mahr, MD, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). “You might feel like suffering from allergies is going to happen every spring no matter what, but there are ways to help alleviate your symptoms.”
These 8 ACAAI tips will help you enjoy the season instead of sitting it out indoors.
1. See an allergist. Before the season kicks in, make an appointment with an allergist to find out exactly what is causing those itchy, watery eyes. Discovering the allergen that you’re reacting to is the first step in treating it. The ACAAI’s Allergist Locator can help you find a board-certified allergist in your area.
2. Find out if it’s allergies or asthma. Or both. The symptoms from asthma can be similar to those of allergies. To make matters worse, allergies plus asthma can be a one-two punch for some allergy sufferers. Almost 75 percent of asthma sufferers also have allergies. Your allergist can diagnose what's causing your symptoms and offer suggestions for treatment so you can start living the life you want to live.
3. Consider allergy shots… They may be the best way to treat tree, grass, mold, dust mite, cat and dog allergies. Allergy shots are immunotherapy. That means your allergist will gradually give you increasingly larger doses of whatever you’re allergic to. There are also tablets that melt under your tongue to treat allergies to ragweed, grass pollen and dust mites. Both forms create a tolerance within your immune system.
4. …or get a prescription. Research has shown that most allergy sufferers find prescription medications more effective than those they can get over the counter. But most people don't go in search of a prescription. An allergist can discover exactly what you’re allergic to and prescribe the right medication to ease your symptoms.
5. Start medication before the season hits. Don’t wait. Much like successful pain management involves getting in front of pain before it kicks into high gear, by taking your allergy medications before the worst symptoms develop, you’ll be doing a lot to alleviate those symptoms. If you usually start feeling it in March or April, start taking your medications in February.
6. Commit to a thorough spring cleaning. It's not just to give the house a fresh look after the long winter. A deep clean will reduce allergens like mold, which build up in basements and other areas where you might not go every day. It’s also a great way to get rid of the pet hair and dander that have built up in places like your sofa. Wash throw rugs regularly, too, in hot water.
7. Wash the day away before going to bed. Take a shower and wash your hair before hitting the hay to rinse away pollen and other allergens you've picked up during the day. Similarly, wash your sheets and bedding once a week in hot water.
8. Use the AC. It’s tempting to throw open the windows and let that fresh spring air waft into the house. The only problem is, pollen and other allergens will waft in with it. Instead, use your air conditioner and make sure the filter is clean. Change your filter every three months and use one with a MERV rating of 11 or 12.
With a few commonsense tactics, you can get ahead of your allergies and keep them in the rear-view mirror all season long.
The ACAAI is a professional medical organization of more than 6,000 allergists-immunologists and allied health professionals, headquartered in Arlington Heights, Ill. The College fosters a culture of collaboration and congeniality in which its members work together and with others toward the common goals of patient care, education, advocacy and research. ACAAI allergists are board-certified physicians trained to diagnose allergies and asthma, administer immunotherapy and provide patients with the best treatment outcomes. For more information and to find relief, visit AllergyandAsthmaRelief.org. Join us on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.
To help shed light on the growing national problem with opioid drugs, Dr. W. Michael Hooten, a Mayo Clinic anesthesiologist and Pain Clinic specialist, lends his expert insight on what people need to know about opioids.
(BPT) - While a decade ago you may not have heard much about opioids, today they make headlines daily. The nationwide epidemic crosses generations and socioeconomic lines, and it's affecting your family, friends and neighbors.
"Opioids have long been used clinically to treat pain, but prior to the 1990s they were primarily reserved for patients with a limited life expectancy, such as for someone with cancer or in a hospice setting," says Dr. W. Michael Hooten, a Mayo Clinic anesthesiologist and Pain Clinic specialist. "The potential problems associated with long-term use were secondary considerations."
To help shed light on this growing national problem, Dr. Hooten lends his expert insight on what people need to know about opioids.
Opioids are prescribed for various reasons
Opioids are used to treat a variety of pain disorders. While they are commonly prescribed after an operation, opioids are also used to treat a host of chronic pain conditions including musculoskeletal, abdominal, pelvic, and neuropathic pain.
Length of use varies
"Following surgery, up to one in four patients may use opioids longer than anticipated," says Dr. Hooten. "How long, exactly, depends on several clinical factors."
He notes that after an operation, a patient might use opioids to manage acute pain for three to five days.
"When opioids are used for acute postoperative pain, patients should try to use the lowest possible dose." After this short time period, opioids should be replaced with non-opioid pain medicines including Tylenol scheduled to be taken every six hours."
There are alternatives for pain management
There are many alternative options for chronic pain. Dr. Hooten suggests talking with your doctor about:
* Non-opioid analgesics (non-opioid pain medications).
* Interventional treatments such as image-guided spine injections or nerve blocks. * Acupuncture.
* Low-impact exercise such as walking, yoga, Pilates. Consider working with a physical therapist to develop a structured exercise program.
* For advanced pain treatment, spinal-cord stimulation can disrupt the pain stimuli and provide sustained pain relief.
* Work with a pain psychologist who can help teach individuals how to use specialized behavioral and cognitive techniques that could lead to improvements in daily functioning and quality of life.
Opioids can be deadly if misused
"Approximately 90 people per day die in the U.S. from a prescription opioid and/or an illicit opiate overdose," says Dr. Hooten. Many of those are accidental overdoses. “People who take prescription opioids will inadvertently mix them with benzodiazepines (e.g., Valium and Xanax). Dr. Hooten warns that these two drug classes should never be taken together, as the combination can suppress the central nervous system and put the individual at risk of an accidental overdose.
Addiction can happen to anyone
As Dr. Hooten notes, “No one plans to get addicted, but it happens. Using opioids requires a high level of vigilance for the signs and symptoms of addiction."
There are many signs of over-reliance or misuse that families should be aware of. These include an increased preoccupation with the drug, concern about the timing of the next dose or refill, hiding use of the drug, and signs of intoxication like slurred speech and excessive sleep.
If you notice these warning signs, alert your loved one about your concerns. "This might be enough to prompt a change," says Dr. Hooten. "Otherwise relay this information to the prescriber and tell them what’s going on. They can take the correct next steps."
For more information on pain medication and alternatives, or to make an appointment, visit www.mayoclinic.org.
(BPT) - According to a recent survey by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), which was sponsored by Meda Pharmaceuticals, nearly one-half of allergy sufferers (48%) are highly satisfied with their prescription allergy treatment and report high satisfaction for their children too, suggesting that a visit to a health care professional might be the best way to identify the right treatment.
The online survey included 1,001 U.S. adults (18 and older) and parents of children ages 12-17 with seasonal allergies. Most reported having moderate to severe symptoms in the spring, summer and fall.
Millions of adults and children have seasonal allergies and its prevalence continues to rise. Trees, grass, and/or weed pollens usually trigger seasonal allergies at certain times of the year. Some people are allergic to many types of pollens and experience seasonal symptoms throughout the year, while others have symptoms only for a few weeks out of the year. Common symptoms include sneezing, runny nose, congestion and nasal itching.
Allergy experts Eli O. Meltzer, MD, Allergy & Asthma Medical Group & Research Center, San Diego and William E. Berger, MD, FACAAI, Allergy & Asthma Associates, say the survey's results underscore the importance of knowing how best to treat your allergy symptoms and what is triggering them. There are many different types of prescription and non-prescription treatments available so it's important to have a discussion with your doctor about what the best choice is for you.
According to the survey, parents are more likely to seek out medical attention for their children with seasonal allergies, but not for themselves. For example, parents of adolescents with seasonal allergies reported their children are significantly more likely to be treated by an allergist (24%), primary care physician (35%) or pediatrician (30%). But adults surveyed reported receiving allergy care from a primary care physician (58%). Far fewer adults (14%) see an allergist for care.
"Involving an allergy specialist and having conversations about seasonal allergies can lead to higher rates of satisfaction, more symptom relief and appropriate treatment for individual success," explained lead author Eli O. Meltzer, MD. "Parents are already doing this for their kids to a large extent, which is good news, but they need to take the time to care for themselves too."
An allergy specialist can help determine what's triggering an allergic reaction and work with patients to control or prevent symptoms. Some treatments don't adequately control symptoms and others have unacceptable side effects for some people. An allergist can help navigate the options and help identify strategies and treatments that work best for every individual.
"Moderate to severe seasonal allergy symptoms can impact productivity, sleep and drain energy. Many people suffer miserably, yet there are very effective treatments to manage symptoms," notes Dr. Berger. "What is most important is taking the time to see a physician to learn how to best manage symptoms and not self-treating without first seeking a doctor's advice."
Dr. Berger suggests scheduling appointments well in advance of allergy season because treatment is more effective when it begins early. A professional can explain the different types of treatments and work with patients to determine what type of treatment is the best fit. "Many seasonal allergy sufferers don't take any action until they start to experience symptoms, which quickly can escalate from bothersome to debilitating," says Bryan Martin, DO, Ohio State University and president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). "But allergy treatments work best when they're taken before the onset of symptoms, so it's important to plan ahead, before the season hits full force, so you're armed with the tools and medicines that provide the most effective symptom relief for you and your family."
Highlights from the AAFA's National Online Symptom Management & Allergic Rhinitis Treatment Survey:
* 48% of adults and 57% of children are very or extremely satisfied with their prescription treatment
* 19% of adults reported they were not seeing any healthcare professional for their allergies
* 80% of both adults and children classify their allergy symptom severity as moderate or severe in the spring, summer and fall
The seasonal allergy survey was sponsored in collaboration between AAFA and Meda Pharmaceuticals Inc. This article was sponsored by Meda Pharmaceuticals Inc.
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