Ask the Expert

Q. How can I tell if my infant has food allergies?

A. If you suspect your baby is allergic to any food, your best approach is to discuss his or her symptoms with your pediatrician. Common allergy symptoms in babies include hives, colic, wheezing, or red and itchy scaly patches on the skin (eczema). Keep a log of what food cause a reaction in your child and how soon symptoms appear. Share this information, along with your family's history of asthma or allergies, your child has about a 75% chance of having allergies. If one of you is allergic, or if relatives on one side of your family have allergies, then your child has a 50% chance of developing them. Sometimes blood tests and allergy testing are done to help make a diagnosis. Your pediatrician may refer you to an allergist for specialized testing or treatment.

Q. My prescription allergy medications don't seem to be working as well as they used to. Is it possible to build up a tolerance to medications taken regularly?

A. No, you can't build up a tolerance to any medications used to treat asthma or allergies. If your medicine does not seem to be working well, you may be experiencing increased asthma or allergy symptoms that require a change in your care plan. Consult your doctor about modifying your medications to help manage your symptoms better when they increase.

Dr Barry Lampl DO
Phone: 216-831-4930

The Allergy Advisor

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Children & Allergies

You don't get a second chance to make a first impression.

Now what, you may ask, does that statement have to do with children and allergies? Lifelong allergy sufferers know that August, September and October are the worst months of the year for most allergic people. Most of the major outdoor allergens, such as ragweed and molds, as well as the indoor allergens, dust mite, peak during this season. If that is not bad enough, the beginning of the school year and change of season also heralds the start of the common cold season. For children, allergies and respiratory viral infections mean visits to the doctor and missed school days. Decreased school performance at the start of the year may be due to the illness or side effects from over the counter allergy medications. This is definitely not a very good way to start anything, let alone the new school year. Therefore, it's important for parents to recognize allergic symptoms in their children.

Does my child have allergies?

The symptoms of seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever) include sneezing, itching, runny nose, and itchy eyes occurring in the spring or fall due to tree, grass, ragweed, mold or extreme animal allergy.

Perennial allergic rhinitis, year round symptoms of nasal congestion, drainage, cough or constant cold like symptoms, are usually due to dust mite, indoor mold, cockroach or animal sensitivities. Other symptoms can include snoring, mouth breathing, fatigue, sore throats, constant throat clearing, and hoarseness. Some children suffer from the complications of untreated allergies including recurring ear and sinus infections and asthma. If the history suggests asthma (such as coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, or shortness of breath at night, on first awakening, or with exercise, allergen exposure or viral respiratory infections) a breathing test called spirometry or a peak expiratory flow may be measured. Allergy testing today can be accomplished with a relatively painless (honestly) method of skin testing called prick tests. Through a drop of allergen placed on the skin and without drawing blood, a tiny nick on the surface of the skin is introduced by a sharp lancet. In fifteen minutes, if allergic antibody is present, a small allergic reaction or hive will form indicating a positive test. The number of tests and allergens tested depends upon the child's symptoms and exposures. Based upon the child's symptoms, past response to medications, and allergic sensitivities, a treatment plan is developed.

First and foremost, allergen and irritant avoidance measures are encouraged, medications for nasal and ocular symptoms are used such as antihistamines, eye drops, and nasal sprays - and, if needed, inhalers or oral medications for asthma. Many children will benefit from allergy vaccinations also known as immunotherapy, or allergy shots, to control their symptoms. It is the only treatment known to offer long lasting remission from allergic disorders. Recently, immunotherapy has even been shown to actually prevent the development of new sensitivities to other allergens and, more importantly, to prevent the development of asthma.

Conclusion

Allergies and asthma have become the most common chronic illness in children in modern societies. In fact, the number of children in the United States with asthma and chronic sinusitis has increased approximately 89% in the last fifteen years. The reasons for this are not clear, but fortunately, good treatments exist if symptoms are recognized. So get your child off to a great new year, don't delay in investigating your child's symptoms if they seem to interfere with school performance. Your child, and you, will feel better in control of allergies instead of allergies controlling you.

Another Good Reason to Live in Cleveland, Ohio

Rationale

Ragweed is the predominant pollen causing rhinitis symptoms in late summer in the Midwestern United States.  For unknown reasons Cleveland, Ohio has the lowest ragweed pollen counts of any major city in the Midwest.

Methods

Review of historical data and pollen counts from Cleveland and other major Midwestern cities.

Results

From pollen surveys completed as early as the 1930ís and from review of pollen counts available locally and regionally in recent years, Cleveland consistently has lower ragweed pollen counts than any other city in the Midwest.  Clevelandís unique location by Lake Erie and northerly winds in the late summer may contribute along with other factors.

Conclusions

Cleveland, Ohio has many positive attributes. One that has not been recognized is the low level of ragweed pollen compared to other Midwestern cities. Ragweed sufferers who enjoy living in the Midwest may find Cleveland an excellent place to live.

 

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