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.  

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Peanut Allergies: What You Need To Know About Halloween Candy

In lieu of Halloween, we wanted to share some information around peanut allergies and Halloween candy. To celebrate this festive holiday, we've put together an infographic to help parents and kids quickly digest some helpful information on peanut allergies and how to stay safe during Halloween.  Happy Halloween!

Peanut Allergies

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Tips to Prevent Candy Allergies During Halloween

October is here and with that comes Halloween. However, for those who have food allergies, this time of year can be tricky as some Halloween candies contain ingredients that people are allergic to. This can be dangerous -- especially for children. In fact, food allergies affect 1 in 13 children under the age of 18.

Nuts are commonly found in Halloween candy, which is one of the “Big 8” ingredients that cause allergies. Some examples of Halloween candies with nuts are Snickers, Butterfingers, or Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Something else important to know is that even if a particular candy does not actually contain nuts, a child can still be allergic to candy that is made in a plant that processes peanuts and tree nuts. Therefore it is important to know where the candy is made and if this type of information is available on the label. Common symptoms related to these types of food allergies are nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting, hives, shortness of breath, wheezing, lightheadedness or even cause someone to go into anaphylactic shock.

Food allergies can also be caused by milk, eggs, wheat, and soy, which are also common, ingredients in candy. Often times, these food allergens are hidden ingredients in candy. For example, did you know that soy can be found in lollipops and gummy candies? The best way to confirm if there are hidden allergens in Halloween candy is to read the ingredient label on each candy package. Another thing to know is that the ingredients of bite-sized candy may differ from those ingredients used in the regular size of the same candy.

It’s important that parents prepare for Halloween by knowing before hand which candies have ingredients that can cause food allergies before Halloween trick-or-treating starts! Here are a few tips from Hudson Allergy to help parents prevent unforeseen allergic reactions during Halloween.

      Identify candy that you already know your child is allergic to before you start trick-or-treating.
      Establish ground rules and identify candy that your child shouldn’t eat before Halloween.
      Prepare a bag filled with allergy “safe treats” in advance and then swap them out for the candy that’s been collected that contains ingredients that your child is allergic to.
      Carry emergency medication such as an Epi Pen or Benadryl.
      Go trick-or-treating with your child.
      Educate your child’s friends and their families about your child’s allergy
      Try to avoid letting other children touch or carry candy that contains the allergens your child is allergic to.

So, before you start trick-or-treating, let your neighbors know that your child has food allergies and suggest allergy-free Halloween treats in advance to hand out to your child.  Another good idea is to feed your child before going trick-or-treating so there is less temptation to "sneak a treat" while they are out and about. By taking the time to prepare, you can better protect your children and have a safe Halloween. 

If you have any questions regarding candy allergies, contact us at or give us a call at 212-729-1283.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Six things to know if someone goes into anaphylactic shock

Did you know that when "ICE" is stored in someone's phone it's usually an acronym for "in case of emergency?" Yes it's true! We know a ton of moms who put their contact information in their children's phone book using this protocol. And, if you haven't, it might be something you'd like to consider doing.

Education is very important to our practice and today we stumbled upon a great new infographic from Allergic Living Magazine that we wanted to share with our readers. Do you know what to do if someone goes into anaphylactic shock as a result of a food allergy?

Their latest infographic provides people with six potentially life saving steps that everyone should know in order to help others a medical emergency induced by food allergies.

The six steps include:
1. Know what the anaphylactic symptoms look like
2. Use an Epi Pen first, use antihistamines second
3. Timing is key, note step number 2
4. Go to the hospital
5. Lie down and raise your feet
6. Don't be afraid to ask others for help

To review the full infographic see below:

If you or someone you know has food allergies we recommend that you have a plan in place in case of a food allergy emergency like anaphylaxis. Allergic Living's six steps are a great helpful start, but as a next step, we recommend seeing you allergist to come up with an action plan if you have are in an emergency situation.

Do you have other questions about anaphylaxis? We'd be happy to speak with you. Please feel free to give us a call at 212-729-1283 or email us at

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Summer time asthma tips

New York City is an amazing place to live, but if you have allergies, living in a metropolitan area can take a toll on your health…especially if you have asthma.

Although this summer has been quite mild, New York City is know for being hot and humid during the summer months. And while most of us enjoy the summer weather, especially after a long winter, the summer heat can be tough on your asthma.

Here are a few things you should keep in mind if you have asthma:
  1. High humidity, high air pollution and high temps can trigger shortness of breath, especially if you have asthma.
  2. Make sure to check the air quality index for pollution levels. is a great resource.
  3. Make sure to keep your asthma rescue inhaler with you at all times. And, if possible use it with a spacer.
  4. If you have a peak flow meter, check it daily.  If you see a drop in your peak flow level, this may indicate a higher probability of a future asthma exacerbation, even before you feel symptomatic. Consult with your doctor to put an action plan in place in case this ever happens. 
  5. It’s so simple but so easy to forget: stay hydrated!
  6. On super hot days don't exercise outside. Wait until the evening, when it's cooler.
  7. If you decide to go swimming to cool down in the summer heat, make sure the pool area is well ventilated. Chlorine and other chemical gases may trigger asthma symptoms, especially if the chlorine smell is strong.
  8. Try using hypoallergenic sunscreens and lotions.

Do you have any other tips that you’d recommend? We’d love to hear!

Or if you have more questions about asthma, we’d be happy to be a resource. Please feel free to or give us a call at 212-729-1283. Hope to hear from you soon!