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!


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Ragweed Causes Allergies: What you need to know!

One of the most common allergens in the fall is ragweed.  Normally ragweed doesn't begin to pester allergy suffers until fall officially begins, however with this summer’s cool weather, and long spells of little rain, we’ve already started to see ragweed begin to bloom this season.

Here are four things you need to know about ragweed:

What is ragweed?

Spoiler alert: Ragweed is a weed! It grows nearly anywhere but especially in the east coast and Midwest. Starting in the beginning of fall, ragweed blooms and begins to releases its pollen, which is a fine powder also made by trees, grasses, and flowers. The pollen is what people are allergic to! In NYC, ragweed pollen usually appears around August 15th, give or take a few days, and can be active until about November.

Here are a few images of what ragweed looks like. We’ve provided a close up image of the flowering pollen as well as an overview of the entire plant! Does this look familiar?


Ragweed can cause hay fever

As just mentioned, ragweed is a weed that releases pollen when it blooms. The pollen from ragweed can cause allergies for people who suffer from pollen related allergies.

Ragweed allergy symptoms include sneezing; itchy throat; runny or stuffy nose, hives, swollen eyelids and itchy eyes. These symptoms are often referred to as hay fever, or by its medical term, seasonal allergic rhinitis. Some people also develop asthma symptoms from ragweed, such as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath

How can you avoid ragweed pollen?

  • Make sure to wash your hands often. As we’ve mentioned in other tree pollen posts, pollen can stick to your hands when you touch something outside. Same goes for your pet, pollen can easily stick to their fur. So to minimize reactions, make sure to wash your hands and face!
  • Don’t spend a lot of time outdoors when pollen (ragweed) counts are high! Here’s a great resource to check the pollen forecast:
  • If you spend the day outside, be sure to take your “outdoor” clothes off when you get home as they may be covered in pollen.
  • Make sure to change your air conditioning filters often and use HEPA filters when possible as they remove 99% of all pollen as well as other allergens.
  • Dry your clothes in a dryer when possible as opposed to hanging them out to dry.

How do you know it’s time to see an allergist?

If your eyes are red and puffy, your nose won’t stop running, and your throat itches, you may have severe allergies. To us, these symptoms indicate that it’s time to see an allergist. We believe that there is no reason one should suffer from seasonal allergies, especially since there are remedies that we can provide you with to help you through allergy season. We can suggest over the counter drugs, which are a temporary solution, or we can discuss something more long-term, like allergy shots.

If you are interested in finding out more about seasonal allergy treatment, please give us a call or schedule an appointment to speak with one of our doctors today. 212-729-1283 or

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Three Things To Know If You Have Food Allergies – Roundtable Event Recap!

We had so much fun last week at our food allergy roundtable event that we wanted to do a short recap post. In addition, we also wanted to thank all of our participants for asking great questions and adding to the conversation as well as The Skinny Chef, Jen Isherloh for bringing the “chefs” perspective on dining out with food allergies.

Here are the three main take-aways from the event:

1)   It’s important to have a plan in place when dining out at restaurants if you have food allergies

The main topic of the food allergy roundtable event was to educate people on how to dine out safely in restaurants if you have food allergies. While it’s our hope that restaurants have a protocol in place to properly serve someone with food allergies, this is not often the case. For that reason, we are big proponents of mapping out a strategy for patients that have food allergies, especially life-threatening ones.

As we outlined in a previous blog post, “Four Tips on dining out at restaurants if you have allergies,” here are the four tips we recommend to our patients:
  1. Know your restaurant
  2. Communicate with everyone, but start at the top
  3. Make sure that the dish that arrives is YOUR dish
  4. Beware of hidden allergens

2) It’s important to know how to use an EpiPen

We’ve all heard of an “EpiPen” but now it’s time to answer some questions around the device. Here’s why you need to use it, when to use it and finally how to use it.

The reason why you’d need to use an epipen is incase you go into anaphylactic shock.  According to, “Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening allergic reaction that can occur quickly (as fast as within a couple of minutes). Symptoms of a life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) vary, but can include hives, itching, flushing, and swelling of the lips, tongue, and roof of mouth. Other more severe symptoms include shortness of breath, throat closing, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramping, etc.”

Even if you don’t have food allergies it’s important to know how to administrate an epipen injection, as you never know when you might be in a situation when you are asked to administer a shot for someone.  It’s actually said that about 20% of the time an epipen is used, the shot is given by someone else, and not the person who it’s prescribed to.

Here’s are a few tips on how to properly use an EpiPen:

  1. Make sure you have a “live” or full EpiPen.
  2. Remove blue cap at the top of the pen
  3. To hold the epipen properly, grab it as if you were holding a bar, so that both your fingers and thumb are wrapped around the device. Do not put your thumb on the top of the device.
  4. When you are ready, stick the epipen into the outer or lateral thigh region of the body and hold for 10 seconds. This is very important because you want to ensure that all the liquid from the pen gets injected into the body.
  5.  Don’t worry about removing clothes. The epipen will penetrate through the clothes as long as they are tight to your skin.

3) Having a “gluten allergy” is a misnomer

Here’s why: While we could dedicate a whole post to this topic, the main point we want to share is that considering gluten as an allergy (or allergen) is a misnomer. Not being able to digest gluten is really an antibody mediated inflammatory response, which is different than typical allergies.

If your system truly can’t tolerate gluten, then you have the disease that is called Celiac disease. Celiac disease is a disorder that hurts the inside lining of the small intestine and inhibits it from absorbing parts of food that you need to maintain a healthy lifestyle. The damage is a result of a reaction to eating gluten.

The test for identifying Celiac disease isn’t always conclusive however and this is where the grey area happens. From an allergist’s perspective, we believe that there are some people who do not fit the standard criteria for Celiac Disease, however they are still gluten sensitive.

If you think you have Celiac disease, we’d recommend visiting a Primary Care or Gastroenterologist. If after that you are still looking for answers, then come and visit your local Tribeca allergist. Together we will try to look for an answer and see if there is actually a gluten allergy.

To learn more about food allergies visit our website: 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Three helpful mobile apps for people with allergies!

Everyday we see new patients who come to us because they think they have allergies.  It’s important to us not only treat our patients, but also provide our patients with education and tools to help them successfully live life with allergies. (Reason number 234 why we aren’t just another allergy practice! We understand out patients and want to help them in today’s modern times. )

According to Pew Research, as of 2013, 56% of American adults are now smartphone owners. With such a high adoption rate, mobile applications are continually created to help satisfy a need or provide a way to make life easier. This concept has been applied to people with allergies, as new applications are being build every day to help people with food and pollen allergies.

Here are three mobile applications that we’d recommend every person with allergies have on their smart phone:

UPC Food Scanner

This is a great mobile application that detects and identifies allergy related ingredients on barcodes and labels of packaged food products. This application allows you to identify and “tag” your particular food allergies, for example, milk, nuts, shellfish. Then, when you scan a bar code on a food product, it'll tell you if your allergy is in the ingredients. The one thing that you need to keep in mind is that it doesn’t let you know if a product was made in a facility with shared equipment or cross contamination warnings for listed with ingredients.

This application is available for download on an iPhone and iPad to make shopping for groceries that much easier for people who have food allergies.  Click here to learn more about UPC Food Scanner.

UPC Food Scanner


As fall is just around the corner, many of our patients ask us to recommend a website or phone application we’d suggest using to track pollen levels.  Our answer is AllergyCast by Zyrtec.  But, in addition to checking pollen levels, the AllergyCast app also allows you to check the weather, log your allergy symptoms and track how you’re feeling. This can be a really helpful tool to keep track of what’s happen in terms of pollen counts, but also how the pollen levels (and which in particular) are affecting you!!

Click here to download the phone app, which is available on both iPhone as well as Android devices.

 Zyrtec AllergyCast

Leafsnap App

The LeafSnap phone application was developed by University of Maryland, Smithsonian Institute and Columbia University to help turn users into LeafSnap citizen scientists, automatically sharing images, species identifications, and geo-coded stamps of species locations with a community of scientists who will use the stream of data to map and monitor the ebb and flow of flora nationwide.

It uses a proprietary database that can determine the type of tree just by taking a photograph of a leaf. This is a perfect phone app for those people with springtime tree allergies. This app will help you learn to recognize what trees you are allergic to so that you can try to avoid sitting under one during your weekend picnic in Central Park.

This app is available for iPhone and iPad users. Click here to download.


If you are looking for more information about allergies 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