Time for correct use of spacers

Ok..it’s time we learn the “why” of using spacers, because most patients don’t use them on a regular basis. Spacers do several things for your pocketbook and your asthma:

  1. This spacer below can be purchased for < $10 on-line at Amazon. That’s almost better than a used toilet roll cardboard! Yes, we used to use and recommend I might add this “makeshift” spacer for patients because the others were too expensive.
  2. Your asthma inhaler is much more effective when you use a spacer, because the aerosol is delivered deep into the lungs where you need it–in the small airways. Make sure you don’t use a spacer with dry powder –not needed here. For example, Advair has both dry powder and aerosol; the choice is yours, but no spacer for the dry powder.
  3. If you’re using an aerosol or MDI, you may find that only 1 puff is needed–you save money with similar results, but check with your doctor first before making that kind of switch.
  4. Now you know why we harp on you to use your spacer–saves money and better results.

Go out (or order from home) and get you one today! Leave me a note on how it works. Happy breathing–Dr. Wiens

Is This Really Corona virus? 

We’ve been so caught up with the #Coronavirus pandemic, that we’ve missed two important developments in the field of allergy:

  1.  The FDA has now approved the use of Palforzia for taking care of peanut allergy.  Guess when this was released? January 2020, about one month prior to the outbreak of COVID-19; the affect on our practice and most other medical clinics across the country was predictable. Nothing happened except to try and avoid COVID-19 as long as possible. Hopefully, our efforts will pay off, but the viral pandemic isn’t over yet, even though the panic has appeared to lessen.
  2. I won’t talk more about COVID-19 because many of us (including myself) are suffering from Corona fatigue and plenty of good information about COVID exists on YouTube channels such as MedCram and ZDoggBe prepared to devote some time to listen to these experts, because they won’t give you just a brief summary. They drill down to the ever evolving truth about COVID-19. (definitely worth your time)
  3. Back to the peanut story. #Palforzia is designed to give minute (very small) powder of peanut protein a little bit at a time so you don’t develop anaphylaxis with every ingestion. The company making this product spent large amounts of money to train professionals such as allergists with Zoom! conferences and field representatives to make sure we launched the program of desensitization without a hitch. Then came Coronavirus and knocked that one out of the park. So where does that leave us:
  4. Palforzia or peanut desensitization still works and is available to those patients who make good candidates. And who wouldn’t be a good candidate?
  5. Palforzia is associated with some risk and a consultation just to focus on this new treatment is required before starting the process.  Can you believe, patients have to pass a certification as well?
  6. For more information, call our office at 918-495-2636 to schedule a consultation for peanut desensitization.

FDA Gives OK to Peanut Allergy Oral Immunotherapy

What else did we miss because of COVID-19?

IT’S THE SPRING POLLEN SEASON!

In years past, everyone lived their life (or especially free time) outdoors because we live in Tulsa for the Spring & Fall, right? Well, this year, it was hard to live outside when you’re quarantined. Hopefully, you avoided exposure to the Coronavirus, but you also avoided exposure to the outdoor Spring allergens (good for you). What you’ll find when we relax the “stay-at-home” rules is more sneezing, runny nose, and typical allergy symptoms. Just a great case in point at how exposure really plays a significant role in your allergy symptoms. So don’t make fun of me when I tell you to cover your mattress and pillows with a substance that isolates the dust mites! Let’s review how allergies work, because a “pollen grain” and IgE look a lot like COVID-19. the video below is a pollen grain that attaches to IgE and the process of “allergy” begins. Notice that whatever process happens in the body occurs because a receptor (suction cup on the cell) binds to a virus or IgE. Every reaction (both good and bad) happens because of this union between body cells and external molecules. Listen to the video below to see how this actually works–and BTW, infection with COVID-19 works the same way.

So how do I tell if I’m having allergy or a nasty virus?

  1. As is usual for me, I like to give you academic information on topics that I really want you to understand–don’t just take my word for it. Too many hits come up searching for “corona virus or allergy,” so I will make it simple and give you the best video to watch.
  2. Patients with allergy are always sneezing and coughing, and many stories this year involve allergy patients who were suspected of having “the virus”. One patient said, “the isle cleared at Wal-Mart when I sneezed”. Another patient found she was ostracized at a friendly get together because of her runny nose and cough–it wasn’t Corona, only spring allergies. She told me later, that she felt embarrassed and wanted to leave the party immediately. You shouldn’t have to experience this rejection and embarrassment if you know what separates virus (any type) from allergy.
  3. Viral infections will often have fever, sore muscles/joints, and in the case of COVID-19, significant shortness of breath. Most likely, this is your first experience with rhinitis, whereas allergy patients have sneezing, coughing, and runny nose year after year.
  4. If you have any questions, please ask your doctor if you need further testing. Testing for both allergies and viral infections (not just Corona) are readily available and you should take advantage of knowing how best to treat your symptoms by correctly diagnosing your problem. Now, don’t show up at your allergists’ office if you think you have COVID-19 before calling first! Don’t take my word alone, watch the video from Dr. Skoner at West Virginia — 3 minutes long and will give you the peace of mind to know “is this allergy or virus.” Your health depends on it!

 

#allergy-symptoms, #asthma, #tulsa-oklahoma

New medications for Asthma–are we at the end of the line?

Watch my FOX 23 interview about new asthma meds

Jane (fictitious name, of course because of HIPPA regulations) is now 56 years old and just last year was diagnosed with #asthma. She thought, “no big deal, there are plenty of inhalers for me to use so I don’t wheeze”.  Little did she know that 2019 would put her in the hospital 3 times and multiple visits to the emergency room because of asthma. In fact, she even missed her grandson’s graduation from kindergarten because of her asthma. Now if that doesn’t motivate you, nothing will! Continue reading

#allergies, #tulsa-oklahoma

Do I really want that? Shared decision making and how this applies to allergy.

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.


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Myth-busters in Medicine

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:

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#allergies, #asthma, #board-certified-allergist, #dave-stukus, #food-allergy, #lynn-wiens, #tulsa-oklahoma, #zdogg

911–Can We Prevent Trauma from Asthma?

 

Childhood trauma–it happens all around us, but rarely do we take the time to observe it’s devastating effects on our society and culture. Kudos to #Tulsa World for addressing this very complicated and at times hopeless situation. Doris Franstein, who recently retired as Continue reading

#allergic-rhinitis, #allergy-medication, #asthma

Reflection on being a doctor

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!

September is more than just football

Ask the Allergist: When Allergies Keep You Awake

Myth is, after all, the never ending story Part 2

When it comes to asthma, it’s not easy fighting the myths of Facebook, Google, or e-mail campaigns. And why are we so resistant to the diagnosis of asthma for our kids and ourselves? For asthma, if you don’t make the correct diagnosis, you’ll never implement the proper treatment. By that I mean, you’re not likely to use prevention, but instead will wait for an asthma attack and then rush in to treat the symptoms. Health care providers are responsible for this phenomenon just as much as patients. Go to any emergency room or urgent care with an asthma attack and you’re likely to receive steroids, antibiotics and the admonition to “see your primary care doctor”. The problem is that patients feel better after steroids and guess what? they never seek medical attention for the prevention of #asthma. After practicing asthma medicine for over 25 years, consider the following reasons for why our asthma treatment often fails to meet the “standard of care” according to published #asthma research:

  1.  Asthma attacks don’t happen all at once. If I can get through an asthma attack in September, what’s the big deal of one course of steroids per year? This paroxysmal nature of asthma makes proper treatment very difficult because we tend to have a very short memory about our last asthma attack. 
  2. As a general rule, we all resist preventive care. Do you miss a regular dental floss or exercise session? As difficult as it seems to continue with good preventive care, think how much more difficult it is to take an inhaler everyday to prevent asthma! Antibiotics are so successful after 10-14 days that we can stop therapy and recover back to our original health. Asthma isn’t the same disease process and many times one attack leads to never ending asthma.

Can I get over asthma? The short answer is usually not. Asthma is a disease of inflammation which means the airways over react to allergy, infections, or irritation. In short, this means lungs with asthma are forever inundated with “triggers” that cause wheezing, coughing, and typical asthma symptoms. If you don’t use preventive inhalers for the next attack, you can be assured it will come.

#respiratory-disorders

Myth is, after all, the never ending story.

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.

  1.  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!
  2. 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).
  3. 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.
  4. There has to be a cause to my hivesperhaps 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:

  1. Can I get over asthma?
  2. Isn’t everyone allergic in Oklahoma? I’ve come to the right state;
  3. 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:

#myths-about-allergy