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