Red Tide outbreak can be particularly bad for people with asthma or allergies

The toxic algae bloom known as Red Tide has left a trail of dead fish in its wake up the western coast of Florida. The bloom that had been wreaking havoc on our southern neighbors has now made its way to the Tampa Bay area. High concentrations of the algae have been found in water samples at several local beaches, and beachgoers are seeing and smelling the effects. Many allergy and asthma sufferers have been feeling symptoms for weeks.

Climate change is affecting our health

The year 2017 was a year of intense and impactful weather occurrences: hurricanes, earthquakes, forest fires, flooding, mudslides, avalanches. Every year seems to bring us more hurricanes, more devastating forest fires, more infectious disease outbreaks like Zika, more bomb cyclones and other severe weather events. And we must be aware of the deleterious effects that this changing climate is having on our health.

Food allergy? Food intolerance? Something else? A closer look

The holidays are filled with fun, family, friends and lots of food. With a variety of foods comes a variety of symptoms that people experience.

At the holiday dinner, Maria ate a bite of the pumpkin-shrimp bruschetta and within 10 minutes developed swollen lips and began vomiting. At the same meal, Linda devoured the creamed corn and later that evening experienced bloating and diarrhea. Paula savored the cranberry-cherry sauce and immediately felt the roof of her mouth begin to itch. All three women went to see a doctor because they thought they had a food allergy.

'Hypoallergenic dog'? Don't fall for the myth

Almost daily, I have parents tell me not to worry because even though they or their children are allergic to dogs, they have purchased a hypoallergenic dog. I hesitate sharing that the hypoallergenic dog is just a myth. To be sure, it is an incredible marketing ploy. Just who started this urban legend remains a mystery. If you type in "hypoallergenic dogs" on Google, you'll find no shortage of breed suggestions.

New treatments available for allergy season

If you are suffering with runny nose, sneezing, cough, itchy-watery-eyes and nasal congestion then you already know that allergy season is here. Allergy sufferers today have a lot of options to help control and even "cure" their symptoms.

The vast majority of allergy symptoms seen in hay fever are related to the release of histamine from immune cells in the body. That is why the mainstay of over-the-counter (OTC) treatment remains antihistamines. Antihistamine medications are great for treating runny, sneezy, itchy symptoms. The older antihistamines (such as Benadryl and Chlor-Trimeton) work well but tend to cause drowsiness.

Early start to allergy season spells more misery

It’s only mid-January, but people who suffer from seasonal allergies are already getting pounded with pollen, mostly from oak trees. Area doctors say they are seeing an early start to allergy season, likely because of unseasonably warm temperatures. They don’t expect the recent cooler weather to stop this trend.
“I started seeing patients, mostly asthmatics with allergy problems, in December,” St. Petersburg allergist Mona Mangat said. Mangat has been watching pollen counts and patient visits creep up for weeks.

The ‘Allergic March’

The ‘Allergic March’ makes me think of a parade on Memorial Day. Unfortunately, the term refers to something not so light-hearted. ‘Allergic march’ refers to the natural progression of allergic conditions from birth to adulthood. The classic allergic disorders that are seen in childhood are atopic dermatitis or eczema, food allergies, allergic rhinitis or hay fever and allergic asthma. Children that present early in life with allergic disorders like eczema & food allergies are more likely to develop other allergic conditions like allergic rhinitis and allergic asthma.
Eczema is usually the first of these disorders to present; usually within 3-12mo of life. This is followed by the onset of food allergies that peak by 2 years of age. Eczema and common food allergies to milk, egg & soy usually improve with age. Allergies to shellfish and nuts tend to persist into adulthood.
Allergic rhinitis and allergic asthma tend to develop later in childhood- during the pre-school years. Both of these conditions can improve with time but tend to persist.

Over the Counter (OTC) Remedies – Featured in St. Pete Times

QUESTION: There are so many different allergy remedies being advertised. Pills, nose sprays, and air cleaners — how do I know which one might help me?
Many of you have felt the arrival of allergy season this year. You may be feeling the runny nose, sneezing, itchy/watery eyes, congestion, and cough or wheezing. For allergy suffers in the spring, pollen is usually the culprit. And with so many over the counter remedies, one can become easily confused.
When patients suffer from allergic rhinitis (the medical term for hay fever), the vast majority of symptoms are being mediated by release of chemicals like histamine, in our bodies. Anti-histamines are great for treating runny, sneezy, itchy symptoms. The older anti-histamines (like Benadryl & ChlorTrimeton) work very well but cause a lot of sedation. The newer anti-histamines like Claritin (loratadine) & Zyrtec (cetirizine) offer similar benefits without the sedation. Both now have generic equivalents available over the counter. Decongestants are added on to address nasal congestion and sinus pressure, but must be used cautiously in people with hypertension.

The Flu Shot and Egg Allergies – What Should You Do?

Update on Flu Vaccine for Egg Allergic Patients
People with egg allergies can — and should — get the flu shot this year, according to a new report by the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
New data shows there is a very small amount of egg protein in the H1N1 and seasonal flu vaccines and that the majority of people with egg allergy do not have an allergic reaction to the flu vaccine.
Skin testing is no longer necessary unless the person with egg allergy has had a reaction to the flu vaccine in the past. The flu vaccine can be given in two doses or as a single dose if someone has an egg allergy.
An allergy evaluation and caution is still advised in patients with a known history of anaphylaxis to egg products or to the flu vaccine.
Please free to contact Dr. Mona Mangat for any further questions regarding this issue.

Is It A Cold or Allergies? Help for Families on the Go.

Is that sniffle a cold or allergies??
So your child has a runny nose, congestion and maybe a cough. Is it a cold or allergies? The common cold is caused by viruses and our immune systems attempts to fight the infection leads to many of the symptoms we see like fever, runny nose, cough, sore throat, etc. Allergies are caused by an overactive immune response to things that are harmless (like pollens, animal dander, dust mites). The symptoms can seem very similar to the common cold, but a few important distinctions are present. Allergies do not cause body aches or fever & usually the runny nose associated w/ allergies is clear. A common cold will usually resolve within 14 days whereas allergy symptoms seem to be persistent, recurrent and often follow a seasonal pattern.

Food Allergies Got You Scared?

Does watermelon make your throat itch?
Do peanuts scare you?
Would you rather swim with sharks than eat shellfish?
Food allergies have become an important part of our lives. Everyone knows someone in their child’s class that can’t have peanuts or a birthday party attendee that can’t have cake.
Food allergies affect approximately 12 million Americans & the incidence is highest in young children. Eight foods account for 90% of all food reactions in the US – milk, egg, wheat, soy, peanut, shellfish, tree nuts and fish.

How Do You Know If You Have Hives?

For the past few years, summertime at my allergy practice has meant a sudden influx of patients with large, round or irregularly shaped, itchy, red welts breaking out in patches all over their bodies, or maybe just on their arms or legs. Often swelling of the lips or eyelids or ears happens too. Last week it was a law student trying to get through exams but unable to because of intense itching. Yesterday, it was the single Mom working 2 jobs that has been unable to sleep for months because she’s so busy scratching her hives until she bleeds all.