Family Allergy Asthma & Sinus Care is located in Charlotte, NC, (Pineville), Enjoy our Educational Blog:

3/16/2016: Spring is in the air; which means March Madness for allergy sufferers!

March through May is peak tree pollen season.  A single plant can release up to a billion grains of pollen per season.  While most of the pollen grains fall within a few feet, some may blow in the wind for many miles.  For those persons allergic to pollen, only a few hundred pollen grains are needed to cause itchy, watery eyes, nasal stuffiness, sneezing, runny nose and fatigue.  These symptoms can decrease your quality of life: interfere with sleep and daily activities, become less productive at work, less effective learning at school and lead to sinus infections.

It is difficult to avoid exposure to pollens, but here are some tips to minimize exposure:

  • Keep windows closed to prevent pollens from drifting into your home.
  • Minimize early morning activity when pollen is usually emitted between 5-10 a.m.
  • Keep your car windows closed when traveling.
  • Stay indoors when the pollen count is reported to be high, and on windy days when pollen may be present in higher amounts in the air.
  • Wear sunglasses to prevent pollen entering the eyes.
  • Hire someone else do your yard work or wear a respiratory face mask.
  • Avoid freshly cut grass and mowing the lawn.
  • Shower and wash your hair before bed to prevent tracking pollen into your room.
  • Avoiding drying clothes outside on peak pollen days.
  • If you have pollen-food allergy syndrome, avoid fresh fruits and vegetables with cross reactive proteins.
When avoidance measures are not enough, various medications can relieve the symptoms.  For those persons with moderate to severe symptoms, allergy shots can improve symptoms, potentially prevent developing new allergies and possibly prevent the development of asthma and prevent asthma exacerbations.  Allergy shots can reduce symptoms in up to 85% of patients with seasonal allergies.  Find relief now and schedule an appointment for your evaluation and individualized treatment plan.

1/30/2016: Did Your Grandma Smoke? You bet your asthma she did.

Smoking cigarettes is unhealthy.  Second hand smoke exposure is unhealthy.  Everybody knows that!  When pregnant women smoke, their child is more likely to have low lung function in childhood and adulthood.  But, what happens to her grandchildren when granny smoked when she was pregnant?

This question was addressed in a study from the European Lung Foundation entitled: “Grandmother’s smoking when pregnant with the mother and asthma in the grandchild: the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study.”  The article was published in 2015 in the medical journal Thorax and may be accessed at Thorax article on Grandma Smoking

Researchers used data from the Swedish Registry that included 44,853 grandmothers from 1982 to 1986 to
investigate whether grandmothers who smoked while they were pregnant with their daughters were linked with an increased risk of asthma in grandchildren.  Information from questionnaires completed at 18 and 30 gestational weeks (during pregnancy), and when the child was 6 months, 3 years and 7 years old were evaluated.

To evaluate whether the grandmother’s smoking had an independent association with asthma development in the grandchild from maternal smoking during pregnancy, the researchers classified the children into 4 mutually exclusive exposure groups:

  1. Not exposed to smoking.
  2. Only exposed to the grandmother’s smoking.
  3. Only exposed to the mother’s smoking during pregnancy
  4. Both the grandmother and the mother smoked.

Results: The risk of asthma in grandchildren was increased by 15 to 21%, even if the child’s own mother had not smoked in their pregnancy!

Why does this happen?

  • It’s not entirely clear, but a possible explanation is “trans-generational epigenetics.”  This 25 cent word means that the smoking by grandmother led to a change in the methylation of the DNA (the way the gene works) that is passed on to the mother, then to the grandchild making them more susceptible to asthma.

What if grandpa smoked?  That data is not yet available. For women who intend on having children and eventually grandchildren, we hope you stop smoking so you leave your grandchildren a better legacy than asthma.

At Family Allergy Asthma & Sinus Care, we treat asthma and encourage smoking cessation in all family members.  It’s in our name!

1/17/2016: New Treatments for Asthma: Change Your Lifestyle

While the diagnosis of asthma has not changed significantly, the treatment has (and should).  Asthma affects 25 million people (including 7 million children) in the U.S.  The incidence of asthma has increased in the last few decades, and while the exact reason for this is unclear, evidence suggests a link between nutrition/diet, weight, air pollution and allergies.  The treatment for asthma is not just taking medications!

Think of the new asthma treatments as “lifestyle” changes.

Diet:

  • Antioxidants: While no diet will eliminate or cure asthma, evidence suggests those who embrace diets high in Vitamin C and E, beta-carotene, flavonoids, magnesium, selenium, and omega-3 fatty acids have lower rates of asthma.  Foods high in carotenoids include carrots, watermelon, mango and tomatoes.  Children who grew up eating a “Mediterranean Diet” high in nuts and fruits (grapes, tomatoes, apples) had less asthma symptoms.  Studies show a low Vitamin D level has been linked to asthma attacks and low lung function.  Vitamin D supplements may improve asthma control.  A high fat meal (over 48 grams) can lead to more lung inflammation and less recovery of low lung function with albuterol.
  • Obesity is associated with severe asthma (requiring ER visits) and decreased lung function. Inhaled steroid medications don’t work as well in patients with body mass index (BMI) over 25.  How much weight do you need to lose to help improve asthma?  Only 5 to 10%, and aim for a BMI less than 25.
  • Acid reflux is associated with asthma symptoms.  Heartburn is more likely if a person eats too much, too fast, or too late at night.

Exercise:  Although exercise can sometimes be a trigger of asthma, this is no excuse to be a couch potato.  Exercise has been shown to improve quality of life in persons with asthma with more symptom-free days, better oxygen consumption, and less inflammation.  How much exercise is enough?  At least 30 minutes three times a week, with a goal of 150 minutes per week (30 minutes minutes a day, 5 times a week).  Exercise can also be helpful with weight control.

Stress control:  Individuals with asthma who have anxiety and depression are at increased risk of asthma attacks.  A disorder called vocal cord dysfunction triggered by anxiety can complicate asthma but not respond to asthma medications.  Interventions may include counseling, breathing relaxation techniques, and sometimes anti-anxiety medications.

Allergen control: Up to 90% of children with asthma may have allergies and these allergies can trigger asthma.  In adults, about 70% of patients with asthma have allergies.  By treating your allergies, the asthma can improve.

Air pollution.  Air pollutants that include small particles can trigger asthma.  Sources include cigarette smoking, wood smoke (campfires, wildfires, poorly ventilated indoor stoves), diesel exhaust, soot and ash.  Strong chemicals and fumes are also triggers.

Vaccines:  viruses such as influenza, RSV, and the common cold virus called Rhinovirus can trigger asthma.  The flu vaccine is recommended for all individuals over 6 months old, but especially for those with asthma according to the CDC.

Medications:  They are still important!

  • Quick relief:  albuterol is still the most common inhaler in use today to help relieve symptoms of asthma and prevent exercise-induced asthma when used 15 minutes before exercise.  Whether it is by a nebulizer or inhaler, keep it on hand.  The newer devices have dose counters and are easier to use.
  • Daily controller:  this group includes the inhaled corticosteroids deemed the most effective treatment for asthma.  When combined with long-acting bronchodilators, the combination is even better for those with moderate to severe asthma.  The newest combination medications are taken only once a day.  Medications like Singular® block an inflammatory pathway without being a steroid medication and are taken as a pill once a day.  Spiriva, an inhaled medication long known to be used for COPD (chronic lung disease from smoking), was recently approved for treating asthma.
  • Biologicals:  The injectable medication Xolair® has been available since 2003 and blocks the allergic antibody IgE.  Mepolizumab marketed as Nucala® and approved in 2015 is monthly injection that works by blocking the protein interleukin-5 to prevent buildups of white blood cells called eosinophils in the lungs that can trigger asthma.

Individuals with asthma have choices.  While there is no cure for asthma, the available treatment options and lifestyle changes can help control asthma so individuals can lead healthy, productive lives.  By controlling asthma, it will not control you! Go Panthers!!!






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These educational information does not take the place of your physician's advice.


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