Wednesday, April 9, 2014

New York City's street trees may be aggravating your allergies

Allergy season is upon us. If you're an allergy sufferer, you're probably stocking up on medications and planning new routes to avoid all those scenic but sneeze-inducing flower patches. But did you know that some of the biggest pollen producers aren't flowers? Many species of trees produce wind-blown pollen as well. While pollination is crucial for trees to reproduce, it can do a number on your allergies. It also doesn't help that some of the most popular street trees in New York City are also some of the top offenders when it comes to pollen and allergies.

With approximately 5.2 million trees growing on public and private property in New York City, it's likely you'll find yourself face-to-face with a pollen-producing tree. For the 2005-2006 NYC Street Tree Census, the City of New York Parks & Recreation created a handy resource to help in the identification of the most common street trees in the city.

Leaf Key for Tree Identification
Leaf Key for Tree Identification

If you're looking for tree identification on-the-go, you can also check out the LeafSnap app, which we previously mentioned in our "Three helpful mobile apps for people with allergies" post.

If you think you've got tree pollen allergies and want to be tested or have questions about other resources available to people with allergies, give us a call. We can be reached at 212-729-1283 or send us an email at

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

5 signs that spring & spring allergies are on their way (in NYC)

After a long and particularly “white” winter - especially if you’re in the NYC area - we bet you are more than ready for spring. But for those of you with seasonal allergies, the dawning of spring also means the beginning of the much dreaded sneezing, wheezing, and itching. The real culprit in this case is pollen, or the grains emitted by trees, weeds, and grasses to fertilize other plants, thus completing the essential process of life and of sending your immune system into overdrive. Today we’ve gathered for you five signs that spring and spring allergies are coming soon to New York City, and some tips that can help you enjoy blooming flowers without blooming allergies too!

1. Warming weather: This winter we’ve went through a particularly busy onslaught of snow storms, with temperatures dipping down to near record lows and treacherous conditions forcing school closings and traffic accidents. But relief is near! After a few chilly days at the end of February, weather forecasts get a great deal sunnier, and those of us who’ve battled through this winter can relax and expect some pleasant days ahead. However, for the city’s spring-blooming trees (whose pollen are the most to blame for spring allergies), especially in beautiful Central Park, this thawing is their signal to begin sending their pollen spores out and begin their beautiful and itchy return to life.

2. Late winter precipitation: In addition to the vigorous snow storms throughout the season, we’ve also seen quite a few thunderstorms in this late winter. This plentiful watering creates favorable conditions for trees and plants to bloom and could mean higher pollen counts when they do.

3. We’ve got top secret information that bulb flowers like tulips and daffodils are already beginning to sprout in Central Park through the melting snow. Although bulb flower pollens or fragrances are not notable spring allergens, their presence is the harbinger of the season and the blooming of other Central Park and city-wide trees and plants, much like the American elm.

4. Early blooming American elm flowers: Fortunately for many NYC dwellers, there’s a great stock of the graceful and massive American elm trees throughout Central Park. Unfortunately for many of us, elm pollen is one of the greatest offenders of spring allergies in New York City and the Northeast. In addition, American elm flowers bloom in clusters in early spring, as early as late January. This means that by late February, if we’re not experiencing elm pollen already, we should be expecting them, and the accompanying allergy symptoms, soon.

5. Allergenic city trees: Along with elm, some of the most common street trees in New York City, such as maple, ash, and oak (which account for 5 of the 10 most common NYC trees) are among the top culprits of spring allergies and of your sneezing, sniffling, misery.

So what are some ways to combat the dark side of a coming spring?
  • Shut windows and doors to keep out pollen
  • Avoid going out in the morning when pollen count is the highest
  • Keep track of pollen levels and stay in when they’re particularly high
  • Regular house-cleaning to prevent outdoor allergen build-up on furniture

These are a few basic tips to help you enjoy the spring season. Seeing an allergist before pollen arrives can also help you identify your offending allergens and fight (aka treat) the battle early.  If this is you, get in contact with us, you will be glad you did. 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

3 Common Pet Allergy Myths - Debunked

Allergies don’t just come in the form of pollen, grass, dust or food. Some of our favorite four-legged friends can also cause us to sneeze, wheeze, itch and cough! But, the reasons behind pet allergies are commonly mistaken. Today we want to talk about three pet allergy myths and get to the bottom of what’s fact and what’s fiction when it comes to being allergic to your furry friend.

Kali the Dachshund

People are allergic to pet’s fur, not hair

We’ve all heard the phrase, “A dog is a man’s best friend,” but what if the man suffers from pet allergies? Many people blame pet hair, assuming it’s the cause of their allergic reaction, but that is false. What causes someone to have an allergic reaction to a pet, isn't the hair or fur, but the pet’s dander.

Dander is the protein secreted in the pet’s saliva and oil glands that it sheds as dead skin cells. These same proteins can also be found in the animal’s urine and feces. Because dander is so small, it can become airborne as your four-legged friend runs throughout the house, finding its way onto furniture, pillows, rugs, and people.

Another myth is that pets with hair, as opposed to fur, are hypoallergenic. False! This belief is in fact wrong, as hair and fur differ only in texture and length. Pet allergies have to do with a pet’s diet (as it relates to the influx in a pet’s saliva and oil glands) and how they are groomed (longhaired vs. shorthaired).

One solution for pet lovers is to choose a shorthaired pet over a longhaired one. Shorthaired pets are less likely than longhaired pets to cause sniffing or sneezing. This is because longhaired pets tend to collect more dander and other airborne allergens like pollen, dust and mold spores as they run wild.

Some breeds of animals are “hypoallergenic”

Because dander sheds as dead skin cells and all dogs and cats have skin, contrary to belief, there are no non-allergenic breeds of animals. Yes, shorthaired pets have less hair to shed, so they tend to produce less dander, but the idea that there are breeds of non-allergenic dogs or cats is completely false. The only pets proven to be hypoallergenic have scaly skin—like snakes and iguanas.

Regardless of fur or hair, there is no such thing as non-allergic dogs. If you are allergic to one dog, all dogs can cause a reaction, no matter if they have hair or fur. However, there are breeds that shed less than others, which are considered hypoallergenic, for example Poodles or Yorkies.

Many people opt for a hairless cat or dog believing it’s allergy-free, but this is also false. Remember, the allergens that pets produce are related to their skin and saliva, so the pet’s hair isn't a major factor in the allergy equation.

Pets Don’t Have Allergies

Believe it or not, this is false. Humans aren't the only ones who suffer from allergies. Pets have them too! Dogs can be allergic to their environment or have food allergies, but instead of sniffing and sneezing like humans, they itch a lot. Here are some signs a dog may have allergies:
  • Frequently scratching (and doesn't have fleas)
  •  Licking its paws
  • Red, irritated skin 

If you ever notice any of these symptoms, then there is a good chance your pet may have allergies. It can be difficult to determine whether a dog has food or environmental allergies so pay attention to when the symptoms occur. If the symptoms only occur in a specific season, it could be environmental. If the symptoms usually occur after the dog eats then it could be food allergies. The next step would be to visit a veterinarian to learn the different ways to treat the allergies. This could include allergy shots, changing the dogs diet or giving the dog antihistamines.

Dogs aren't alone. Cats also have food and environmental allergies too. Just like dogs, cats itch a lot, especially around the face. It’s important to pay attention to this because cats can become so itchy, they can hurt themselves from excessive scratching. Cats can also have asthma-like conditions that can be life threatening.

Now that we’ve debunked some of the popular myths about pet allergies, hopefully you can breathe a little easier (literally?). The most effective way to avoid pet allergies is to avoid pets altogether. But the good news is that there are other alternatives if you want to keep your pet. Talk to your allergist about potential allergy shots or other ways to minimize pet allergy symptoms.

You don’t have to get rid of Garfield or Snoopy if you have allergies! If you live in the New York City area and would like to speak with a doctor about your pet allergies, please contact Hudson Allergy at (212) 729.1283 or email us at

Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas Tree Allergies

Christmas is a beautiful time of year but for some, there is one thing that can ruin it and you wouldn't believe what it is: the Christmas tree. With well wrapped presents below and the beautiful assortments above, what would make a person not smile at the sight of it?

Answer: Allergies!

Believe it or not, there are many people who suffer from allergic reactions to their Christmas trees. This is known around the holidays as Christmas Tree Syndrome, which is caused by the mold that grows on trees. So technically, the trees themselves aren't the real problem. Its the mold!

Mold spores love damp evergreens, so they become best friends with the wreaths, boughs, and trees you may bring inside your home during the holiday season. Mold and their spores can increase the risk of wheezing and coughing for those with mold allergies.

Live trees, especially those on tree farms, spend years outdoors gathering various irritants such as herbicides and fertilizers. These irritants, along with air-born pollens and molds, stick to the trees needles and bark. Trees that are ready to be purchased are usually harvested well in advance of Christmas and stored in moist holding areas before they are beautifully staged in someones home.  This makes it worse for people with allergies because this gives mold spores time to develop and grow, which is exacerbated when they are in stored in cramped, damped areas.

Connecticut researchers found that the mold counts from a live Christmas tree increased six times the average level after only two weeks after the tree was brought indoors. When inside, the same spores that usually float freely outdoors, now float freely inside your home. Floating mold spores can trigger allergies, asthma, and sinus issues. Additionally, bringing your tree in and out of your home and adjusting the branch limbs while hanging decorations can release many of these allergens.

For those who suffer from mold allergies, it is important to limit the amount of time the Christmas tree is kept indoors. The recommended time that people with mold sensitivity keep a live tree in the house is no more than two weeks.

Many who suffer from mold allergies opt for an artificial tree. While most allergist generally consider artificial Christmas trees a great alternative to a live tree, they can still present allergy concerns. Although artificial trees can reduce the risk of mold exposure, they can still trigger allergic reactions if they have been improperly stored and are carrying significant amounts of dust.

If you cant resist not having a live Christmas tree, then there are some measures you should take. Make sure you wash the entire tree along with its branches before bringing it inside your home. Some nurseries that sell Christmas trees also provide washing services. You just have to ask.  After washing the tree, let it sufficiently dry before bringing it inside. Doing this will prevent the growth of any new mold. Since mold spores can accumulate the longer the tree stays in your house, make sure you removed the tree 1-2 days after Christmas. 

For those buying an artificial tree and plan on saving it, keep in mind that, by next year, it will probably be coated in dust. This can certainly trigger an allergic reaction so be sure to store your tree in a cool, dry place and securely wrap it when you are done.

Whether purchase a live or artificial tree, Hudson Allergy would like to wish everyone a happy and allergy-free holiday season. If you live in the New York City area and would like to speak with a doctor about your allergies, please contact Hudson Allergy at (212) 729.1283 or email us at

photo credit: JD Hancock via photopin cc

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Prepare Yourself For NYC’s Winter Allergies

There is no place better to be for the holidays than in New York City but for many with allergies and asthma, the winter season can be the furthest thing from jolly. Those with pollen allergies may get a break with the cold weather but if you are allergic to the common winter allergens, spending winter months inside your NYC apartment can vastly affect your allergy symptoms.

Every household has potential allergens and here are some of the most common triggers for indoor allergies, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology (AAAI):

Dust: Dust can be made up of many things, including tiny bits of plants, skin, insects, fibers, and animal matter. Any of these, or a combination of substances, could trigger indoor allergies.

Dust Mites: Dust mite allergens thrive on dust and are a common trigger of allergy and asthma symptoms. They can be found throughout the house, thriving in warm, humid environments such as bedding, carpeting, and upholstered furniture.

Indoor Mold: Indoor mold and mildew thrive on dampness usually found in basements and bathrooms. Once they take hold, mold and mildew shed tiny spores and these spores trigger indoor allergy symptoms.

Pet Allergens: It is important to know that there are no “hypoallergenic” breeds of dogs or cats. An allergic reaction is caused by a tiny protein in an animal’s saliva. Believe it or not, even homes without pets may contain dander, the dead skin flakes that can be found in the animal fur, on furniture and in household dust. This is because pet dander is sticky, light, and can easily cling to cloth, shoes, and hair.

More than 50 million Americans are allergic to everything from dust and dander to mold and mites. Due to the cold weather, people tend to spend more time indoors, which can irritate your allergies. Anything from dust mites, pet dander, smoke, fumes and other chemicals can trigger symptoms. When it gets cold, people tend to use their furnaces more, which sends dust and mold spores into the air, which can get into your nose and trigger an allergic reaction.

You can develop an allergic reaction at any time and even if you've never found yourself sneezing from your grandmother’s cat or the new flowers you planted the backyard. This is because you can suddenly have an allergic reaction to something at any age, even if it’s never happened before.

One of the challenges with winter allergies is that they are commonly mistaken to be symptoms of the common cold. As a result, it can be hard to determine which one you have. Here are a few tips on how you can tell the difference:

Indoor allergy symptoms
  • A running nose
  • Watery/Itchy eyes
  • Symptoms linger for weeks
Cold symptoms
  • Discolored (yellow or green) nasal discharge 
  • Chills and body aches/pains
  • Symptoms linger a week or 10 days

With holidays just around the corner, here are a few tips to minimize the presence of allergens, especially the ones more prevalent during the winter months. If you have a Christmas tree, you may consider buying an artificial tree to avoid aggravating any tree allergies. Be sure to dust off ornaments before hanging them up if they’ve been sitting in a box for a year. Also consider buying plastic ornaments over fabric ones, as they tend to collect and hold on to less dust, and if you are traveling, consider bringing your own pillow to ensure that it’s clean and allergen free.

Don’t let allergies pester you over the holidays. If you live in the NYC area and think you are experiencing symptoms of winter allergies, schedule an appointment at Hudson Allergy. If it seems right, the doctors can perform a skin test to help identify the issue and provide you with a proposed action plan on how to remedy or improve the allergy. You can call (212) 729-1283 or schedule an appointment online here.

photo credit: Squirmelia via photopin cc

Friday, November 15, 2013

Beware of Hidden Food Allergens on Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and we couldn't be more exited to stuff ourselves with delicious food and spend time with family and friends. However, if you have food allergies, the Thanksgiving holiday can be a tough time as you may find yourself dining out at people's homes or in new places. This can be challenging if you have food allergies and you aren't 100% sure how the food is prepared.

In light of the holiday and our continued efforts to educate, we've put together a Thanksgiving Food Allergy infographic that outlines five of the eight major food allergens and identifies which popular Thanksgiving dishes they might be hiding in. Check it out!

Thanksgiving Food Allergens

If you have any other questions about food allergies don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We are here to help! Feel free to give us a call at 212-729-1283 or email us at Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

How To Plan and Cook An Allergen Free Thanksgiving

Fall has officially kicked in. Halloween has come and gone, but that means that Thanksgiving, Chanakuah, Christmas and New Years are all around the corner.

To us, these holidays represent good friends, family and of course food! But for someone with food allergies, these food festive holidays can be daunting. Are you hosting a Thanksgiving this year? Is anyone attending that has food allergies? Here are six helpful tips to navigate your way through a successful Thanksgiving if you are serving someone with food allergies:

  1. Make sure to ask your guests about any food allergies, sensitivities or intolerances ahead of time!
  2. If you aren’t sure about a particular ingredient based on your guests responses, make sure you ask them during your meal planning stage so you don’t waste time buying, prepping and cooking something that your guest can’t eat. They know better than you. So just ask!
  3. Check the labels of all ingredients even if you regularly use them. Many day-to-day ingredients have hidden allergens in them, for example gluten or soy. For example some chicken stocks and salted butter have gluten added.
  4. Something else to check the label for is cross contamination. Some products are made in factories that make other products, which may contain allergens. Be sure to check the label for any cross contamination verbiage like, “may contain” even though the ingredient isn’t listed among the ingredients.
  5.  When you serve your meal, make sure to identify dishes that your food allergy guests SHOULD NOT EAT. And, maybe move them away from the other food so that no cross contamination occurs on accident. It’s ok to have some dishes that they might not be able to eat, just make sure it’s labeled properly.
  6. Cross contamination is a real threat. Be sure to use separate serving dishes and serving spoons for each dish, especially for those that you are making specifically allergen-free.
Food Allergen Free Thanksgiving Meal

If you have any other questions about food allergies or want more solutions on how to go about preparing a food allergy friendly Thanksgiving meal, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We are here to help! Feel free to give us a call at 212-729-1283 or email us at

Also, if you are looking for a good resource for allergen-free Thanksgiving recipes and ideas, check out the Food Your Way: Intentional & Creative Living blog post titled, Allergen-Free Dishes for Thanksgiving Dinner for a list of great allergen free recipes.

Photo credit: The Vault DFW via photopin cc

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Peanut Allergies and Air Planes – What to do if you have to catch a flight?

We have a ton of patients that come in with peanut allergies, which is a very serious food allergy.

One of the main questions we get asked is, “What do I do if I have to take a flight and I am allergic to peanuts.” We will answer this question below, but this same idea goes for any food allergies. 

We like to give our patients strategies on how to tackle tricky food situations that come about because you are in a public setting. For example, if you have a severe peanut allergy what are you supposed to do if you travel on an airplane where peanuts are the most common, and expected free snack?

Here’s what we do in this case. Talk to the airline before your flight to give them a “heads up” about your allergy and see what options they offer you. Then, when you get to the airport and check in for your flight, go and talk to the gate agent who is in charge of the flight. Let them know about your severe allergy to peanuts and ask them if they can refrain from serving peanuts on the flight to reduce the risk of an allergic reaction.

More often then not, the airline will oblige. But we recommend asking the flight attendants who are working the flight if they have been informed of the decision. It’s important to make sure that the message gets communicated to everyone who is working the flight, not just those who do the boarding. Airlines are very receptive to peanut allergies and the danger of having peanuts on a flight if someone has a peanut allergy.

We’ve actually seen this happen before on Delta Airlines. There was someone who had a peanut allergy and they told the gate agents and the decision was made to not serve peanuts on the flight.

To ensure that there were no mishaps and to set customer expectations, the gate agents will usually make a brief announcement before the flight begins to board letting everyone know that they will not be serving peanuts on this flight. Good Job Delta!

The big take away here is that everyone knows how serious peanut allergies are, but in social situations, people can’t help prevent them if they don’t know that someone around them has the allergy. Thus say something! This could save your life or prevent someone else from having a serious allergic reaction.

According one of Hudson Allergy’s founders, Doctor Tim Mainardi “ As modern medicine advances, more people are becoming aware of their food allergies, including peanut allergies. As a society we need to be cognizant of the affects that peanuts can have on some of our fellow citizens and adjustments need to be made for the overall health and well being for all. Sometimes this means that peanuts aren’t available on a flight or at a ball game, but that can be a small price to pay considering the grave harm that peanuts can cause to some individuals.”  

If you have any other questions about peanut allergies or what other tips we’d recommend on navigating your way though social situations, give us a call. We are happy to help and provide you with a personal action plan on how to prevent allergies that are specific to you. Call us at 212-729-1283 or email us at 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Penicillin Allergies: A few interesting facts

Last week we had the pleasure of speaking at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital on a topic that is near and dear to our hearts: Penicillin Allergies.

As some of you may or may not know, a penicillin allergy can be a life-threatening reaction to a number of different penicillin containing antibiotics in sensitive individuals. Penicillin allergies are quite common and people with penicillin allergies can also be sensitive to other types of antibiotics.

Here are a few interesting facts about penicillin and penicillin allergies. It is said that 2% of the population has an allergy to penicillin, however 10% of hospitalized patients report having a penicillin allergy. This means that 80% of people with a “self-reported” penicillin allergy probably do not have one. There area reasons for this discrepancy:

Many people with a history of penicillin allergies received that diagnosis when they were children and were too young to remember what kind of reaction they endured. This could be one of the reasons that so many people think that they have an allergy to penicillin, but in reality they don’t. They have likely outgrown their allergy.

When we hear this kind of story from our patients, we share this lovely fact with them: After 10 years of having an allergic reaction to penicillin, 87% of those people will "lose" the allergy and be able to tolerate penicillin, thus, not be allergic any more!

One way to know if you still have an allergy to penicillin is skin testing. Skin testing is available and with 98% certainty, will be able to determine whether someone is still allergic to penicillin. It is safe, cost effective and covered by most insurance plans.

Why get tested? Well, according to Dr. Tim Mainardi, "Patients with penicillin allergies are usually treated with different antibiotics that can be less effective or cause worse side effects. After verifying a penicillin allergy with a skin test, patients on average spend 32% less on antibiotics than those who were not tested."

If you have questions about penicillin allergies or want to come in and find out once and for all if you are still allergic, schedule an appointment. Visit or email us at You will be glad you did.