As #Christmas time approaches, it’s clear that Americans want choice. When I ask patients what they would like for Christmas, “I don’t know” is usually not their answer. Children’s eyes filled with sparkles at Santa’s coming, parents’ smiling at me and thankful I haven’t ruined their stories about Santa dominate our discussions about the holidays. Of course, I’ll always review medications and made sure that #asthma won’t ruin a perfectly good Christmas.
As an allergist in Tulsa, the myths that surround asthma, food allergy, hives, hay fever abound and patients often come in to the office telling ME what they are allergic to or how to fix the problem. Let me give you some examples:
The Fall cometh and we all have allergies (particularly #ragweed) to deal with. It always amazes me how much information about #fall allergies can be found on the internet–some true, but much isn’t close to giving you good information about how to treat your allergies. In fact, if you’ll remember, I asked where most of you get your medical information and 100% said “from a medical journal”. I’m not sure I believe that result or there wouldn’t be so many allergy myths in Tulsa! I’ve often wondered, why does it make any difference to have good medical information about how to best treat your allergies? Continue reading
Several months ago, I asked you what was missing from your treatment of #allergy. To my surprise, 50% of respondents wanted more information on food allergy, compared to only 36% who wanted cheaper medications for their #asthma. So I listened and here are some stories I find interesting about food allergy. Please share your stories with me by adding your comments at the end of this blog. Unfortunately, people don’t really think food allergy is a real health problem. Continue reading
Flying home from San Francisco spending some time at the AAAAI (American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology) was a powerful reminder of how thankful I am for the opportunity to practice allergy here in the Midwest. National meetings give you updates of new procedures, opportunities to meet colleagues, and just a general good time getting out of the routine. What’s new for allergy here in Tulsa is more use of #biologicals (for #asthma), more #food challenges/treatment, and more aggressive treatment of #hives. I’m excited to get started, so let’s go!
“When I fly across the state border into Oklahoma, I start #sneezing.” “There must be something in Oklahoma that causes my eyes to itch and burn.” “I felt fine on vacation in California, but now I’m miserable with #allergies!” Comments like this are common if you practice allergy in Oklahoma, but are they really true? Continue reading
Excuse my ranting and raving about myths in #allergy, but it’s true our minds need to “get in gear” for what we believe. Does it really make sense and does information we believe come from reliable sources? Let’s try and debunk a few myths about allergy while it’s fresh in your mind.
- Once I start allergy shots, I’ll never have any problems. #Allergy immunotherapy or “allergy shots” are very helpful to relieve symptoms of #hay fever such as sneezing, runny nose and even wheezing, but they don’t cure everything. For instance, if you have sinusitis, don’t count on your shots to cure your symptoms–you have to treat the sinuses for relief. This may include antibiotics/prednisone for one month at a time, or even surgical intervention. This is the reason I will often obtain a CT scan of the sinuses before starting allergy shots–to make sure I’m not missing an infection or anatomical obstruction in the sinus cavities. You wouldn’t expect the patient below to improve with allergy shots because they have a concha bullosa on the left side causing obstruction of nasal airflow. Not a good remedy for allergy shots!
- Benadryl is the antihistamine of choice–pick an ER and you’re likely to find #benadryl used like candy. Medical conditions like #hives and unknown #allergic reactions should be treated with antihistamines, but benadryl, really? Better antihistamines are available OTC and include Zyrtec and Xyzal. They’re stronger, more potent and last up to 24 hours instead of 4-6 hours like cousin benadryl. Next time you get benadryl, substitute with a better antihistamine and see what happens. (I think you’ll be pleased).
- Nasal spray addiction–Here in America, we don’t like using #nasal sprays. Europe has no problem sticking lots of objects up their nose, but in this country, we’d rather take a pill than use the more effective nose sprays. Every single study that compares nasal sprays with antihistamines, finds that nasal sprays such as corticosteroids work much better for allergies than pills and sometimes even allergy shots. WORD of CAUTION: Nasal sprays such as Afrin or 4-way spray can be addictive and harmful to your health. I’m only comparing nasal sprays with antihistamines and #topical steroids which don’t have addictive potential.
- There has to be a cause to my hives—perhaps the most frustrating medical condition of all time is #hives. That pesky rash that can range from a few bumps to your body being covered from head to toe with incredible itch associated with difficulty breathing and swelling. Most patients come in to the office hoping to find a cause or trigger to avoid and thus cure the hives. Unfortunately, the cause for hives is never found in 70% of cases, only leading to more frustration and disgust. I will usually look for allergy, bone marrow problems (tryptase) and alpha gal sensitivity, but that’s about it for finding a cause. Symptom control is key with antihistamines and Xolair, but if you stop your medication, the hives are likely to return.
No, I’m not done with allergy myths, but part 2 is coming up later. Those topics to include the following:
- Can I get over asthma?
- Isn’t everyone allergic in Oklahoma? I’ve come to the right state;
- Food allergy–https://www.usatoday.com/videos/travel/experience/food-and-wine/2018/07/07/these-foods-can-help-you-feel-cool-heat/36661435/
If you don’t believe me, here’s an hour long lecture on “Allergy myths” given by Dr. Dave Stukus (teaches at Ohio State University) at the following link:
This web site has a very simple method for food elimination/challenge diet that can be applied to ANY #food intolerance.