Five habits that make your allergies worse

HOUSTON -- Sneezes, coughs and sniffles may have started sooner than ever before this year, thanks to an early spring allergy season that may wreak havoc on the health of millions of allergy sufferers. That yellow blanket of pollen outside came quicker and thicker this year because of warmer temps, windier conditions that lifted the pollen from trees and effects of El Nino that created a wet breeding ground for pollen-producing trees and grasses. Given the onslaught of these conditions, physicians at American Family Care have identified the Top Five Habits That Make Allergies Worse. With more than 160 medical centers in 26 states seeing more than 2 million patients a year, AFC evaluates more allergy sufferers than virtually any other health care provider outside of the federal government. "We have a unique perspective on the severity of the season and how to mitigate suffering," says Dr. Jeremy Allen, a board certified family practitioner at American Family Care. "More and more people visit our clinics thinking they have a cold, but in many cases it is an allergy attack." Indeed, visits by allergy sufferers are increasing at AFC clinics, and many of those patients' everyday habits are actually making their allergies worse. Top Five Habits That Make Allergies Worse: 1. Eating certain fruits and vegetables: We are raised to think eating our veggies is good for us. Researchers with the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America found proteins in certain foods can cause ragweed sufferers to end up with an itchy mouth. The experts say bananas, melons and tomatoes can cause a cross-reaction. 2. Making your bed : Dust mites love to put down roots in bedding and mattresses. AFCphysicians say at night, while you sleep, moisture from body sweat helps keep the little critters alive. When you make your bed in the morning, you are tucking in those pesky bugs so they cannot escape. Airing out your sheets can make it harder for allergens and bedbugs to stay alive. 3. Wearing Continue Reading

Stormwater has Pevely homeowner seeing red – and struggling to breathe

PEVELY • When it rains, a river of water sometimes 12 feet wide and a foot deep gushes through Jason Stelling’s yard. The deluge isn’t from the periodic flooding that inundates parts of Jefferson County — it’s from stormwater from St. Benedict street, where the cul de sac slopes toward Stelling’s house in the Tiara at the Abbey subdivision, he said. That water, he says, and the city’s failure to do anything to remedy how the water drains, as well as its approval of drainage plans at neighboring properties, is why his house is infested with mold. Stelling’s long-running dispute with the city about the water has intensified in the last year. A file bursting with paperwork he keeps related to the house’s problems includes photos of the water pooling up to 14 inches deep. That was before he says he spent $25,000 to elevate the yard, which is three quarters of an acre, with 550 tons of fill rock and dirt. The house was built in 2000, and Stelling bought it three years later. He said the water problems began immediately. Only in the last year or so has he realized the mold problem that he says has caused his asthma, and his home’s drop in value — he protested his property assessment last year with the Jefferson County Assessor’s Office using documents from his ongoing problems, resulting in a drop from $308,100 to $227,800 in real estate value. That still leaves a property tax bill of nearly $3,200 a year on a house he says is making him sick, and that he doesn’t want to sink any money into repairing until the root of the problem is fixed. “This subdivision doesn’t have storm drains,” he said, his voice raspy. “It’s designed to have natural stormwater runoff.” That runoff should, he said, go into three lakes. He wants Pevely to install a storm sewer cap in front of his yard that would direct the water to those lakes. Pevely Administrator Todd Melkus said he Continue Reading

Running in unique conditions, LIU sprinter Brendon Rodney eyes gold at Rio Olympics

Noon is near on the waterfront and Brendon Rodney, the fastest Blackbird in Brooklyn, ambles past bleachers to his off-campus workspace. It is the worn rubber running track at Red Hook Park, set between Bay St. and the Henry St. Basin, down by an abandoned grain terminal. There are eight lanes, and Rodney, a celebrated sprinter for Long Island University’s track team, carries a metal starting block in his left hand. There are braces on his teeth, goatee hairs on his chin and two gold chains around his neck. He eyes overgrown grass by the shot put toe board in a corner of soccer field No. 3, a surface that doubles as the infield. The area is closed off with a black 10-foot chain-link fence along the track’s inner loop. A white sign warns that contaminants are being removed as part of the Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to clean up lead that traces back to when the Columbia Smelting and Refining Works facility stood across Bay St. The track stays open and Lane 6 is clear as Rodney commences a speed endurance workout. “Sorry I didn’t get a chance to cut the grass today,” he says. Rodney, 24, maintains that he pays no mind to the lead as he mines for gold. He is an All-American from Ontario, fresh off a third-place finish in the 200 meters at the NCAA’s outdoor national championships in Oregon last month, and training for a top-three finish in the Canadian Olympic trials in Edmonton later this week. His road to the summer’s Olympic Games in Rio traces through tracks from Brooklyn to Beijing as he boasts a college-best time in the indoor 200 meters (20.46). He trains under LIU coach Simon Hodnett, a Pisces from Virginia Beach forever seeking to be in sync with his runners’ psyches. Hodnett holds a black umbrella in his left hand and a yellow stopwatch in his right. He heads a nomadic program that has operated without its own track in his 18-year tenure and harps on balance, exhorting Rodney to Continue Reading

Gesundheit! What you need to know about spring allergy season

What does the spring allergy season have in store for us following a winter of unusually variable and at times unseasonably warm temperatures? Predictions are mixed. Here in New York City, most spring allergies are caused by tree pollen, with each species reacting differently to climate variations. Some trees need colder weather to produce pollen, while others produce more pollen in response to warmer temperatures. Many of us are allergic to different tree pollens, so if you don't know which tree causes your symptoms, this might be the year to find out by visiting an allergist. Spring allergy season typically hits the New York metropolitan area sometime in March and lasts until mid-June. Given its massive amount of concrete and steel, New York City has a surprisingly high pollen count. Our warm ambient temperatures and plentiful carbon gases act like a fertilizer for plants, stimulating them to produce more pollen. Many trees have a single sex, and only male trees produce pollen. Since most trees in the city are male, that means higher pollen counts. Classic allergy symptoms occur in the eyes, nose, and throat, including itchy, watery eyes; nasal congestion; sneezing; runny nose; dry eyes; scratchy throat, and sometimes sinus pressure or itchy ears. Cold sufferers also experience these symptoms, but itchiness is the red flag of an allergic response. Fever, chills, coughing, swollen lymph nodes, and throat pain are indications that you are suffering from the common cold, not allergy. The unpleasant symptoms associated with allergies are caused by a mistaken immune response. Your body reacts to tree pollen as a threat or toxin to the system and begins releasing chemicals, such as histamines, to fight off the harmless allergen. These chemicals cause your symptoms, not the tree pollen, which only acts as a trigger. Just about everyone is at risk for developing spring allergies — they affect people regardless of race, ethnic Continue Reading

How to tell if it is the cold, flu or allergies

You're feeling low and barreling through boxes of tissues -- but you don't know if it's a cold, the flu or allergies. With some similar symptoms, it can be easy to confuse one with another, especially at a time when one allergy season is ending, another is starting and it's cold and flu season. But it's important to differentiate so you can properly treat -- which means being attuned to the distinguishing characteristics of each. One is temperature. "Allergies are not going to come along with a fever," says Dr. Tania Elliott, director of Bellevue Hospital’s allergy clinic and assistant medical director with Doctor On Demand, an online consultation service. And, she adds, "You are not going to get swollen lymph nodes from an allergy. You may have a scratchy throat from swollen inflammation in the nose but you won't have the redness and swelling you would have with an infection." Colds and the flu are viral infections that usually bring fever, aches and fatigue. Allergies are not accompanied by pains, upset stomach or exhaustion. Then, says Elliot, "There is the mucus debate.” Despite what some believe, green mucus can be the result of allergies, she notes -- but “a sign that this might be an infection is if the mucus changes color." Symptoms for allergies include allergy shiners, where blood vessels under eyes dilate, creating dark circles, and the “allergy salute,” where people constantly rub their nose, Elliott says. How long the symptoms have been around matters. Colds and the flu usually last a week to 10 days. Allergies linger. The bad news is "it's not just pollen season but it's year round," Elliott says. "You can never get away from allergies." Ragweed season is nearly over, and will be when all of the leaves are off the trees. As that ends, winter allergies kick in. Those are triggered from indoor allergens such as dust mites and pet dander. To combat these, Elliott Continue Reading

Daily Checkup: What to do when that constant stuffiness isn’t just a cold or allergy flareup

THE SPECIALIST The vice chairman of clinical affairs in the department of otolaryngology at Mount Sinai, Dr. Satish Govindaraj specializes in treating problems ranging from rhinitis and sinusitis to nasal polyps. Ninety percent of his patients have nasal and sinus-based problems. WHO'S AT RISK The average American has two to three colds a year, with winter serving as peak cold season — but 1% to 4% of the population suffers from chronic congestion that comes from a completely different sources. “In response to irritants like allergens, cigarette smoke and construction dust, the lining of the nose can develop a hyperactive immune response that causes it to grow nasal polyps,” says Dr. Govindaraj. “Nasal polyps can form on one side of the nose or both, and their classic symptoms are nasal congestion accompanied by a decreased sense of smell, and sometimes taste.” Why nasal polyps form remains a mystery. “We don’t know the underlying cause — what we do know is that it’s a hyperactive immune response,” says Dr. Govindaraj. “For this reason, removing the polyps alone doesn’t provide a cure. Once you remove the polyps, you still have to treat the lining to calm it down, or else it can start making polyps again.” Because nasal polyps tend to originate in the back of the nose, they aren’t visible to the naked eye or even to a doctor’s nasal speculum until they have progressed. “It’s usually necessary for the doctor to use an endoscope and camera to get a look at these polyps,” says Dr. Govindaraj. “The polyps look like a cluster of grapes, consisting of tissue that is similar to the lining of the nose, but tends to be more fluid filled and swollen.” While just about anyone can develop polyps, about 50% of cases occur in patients who also have allergic rhinitis, also known as seasonal allergies. “Polyps tend to affect the middle-aged Continue Reading

Warm weather, rain make ragweed, mold allergies tougher

The fall season is synonymous with Frankenstein and flu. But there's another foe to be wary of — allergies.This year's warm and rainy fall weather along the Mid-Atlantic has aggravated ragweed and mold allergies, experts say, bringing forward more itchy, red eyes and sniffles.Allergies are just as pervasive in September and October as in spring when the flowers and trees are first in bloom. There are just different triggers.Fine-powder ragweed pollen peaked in mid-September, explained  Dr. Quan Nguyen, of Asthma and Allergy Care of Delaware, and is the most common fall allergy in the First State. Now, there's more of an issue with mold, he said, thanks to the wet weekends Delaware's endured and post-Hurricane Matthew rain and flooding. STORY: Pike Creek CVS plan up for debate STORY: Middletown school continues tradition of blessing the animalsDamp, rainy weather provides a perfect environment for mold to grow. Mold spores build when the humidity is high and spread when the weather is dry and windy."Mold is still lingering a little bit ," Ngyuen said.The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology says that when the weather progressively cools, ragweed remains a problem until the first frost of the year. Ragweed is one of the main culprits of hay fever and typically begins pollinating in mid-August. Hay fever impacts about 23 million Americans.A good frost typically kills ragweed, Ngyuen said."A lot of places are still looking for that first frost in October," adds Paul Walker, senior meteorologist with AccuWeather.Even with unseasonably warm highs this week, Delaware is having a pretty typical fall, Walker said. Temperatures so far in Wilmington only registered a little more than a degree above normal and the lowest temperature has been 39 degrees. STORY: Fifer's Fall fest opens with Peanuts, pumpkins STORY: STAR campus attracts 12 promising startupsFrost may on the way, Walker said, but it doesn't look to be Continue Reading

Mets are like night and day in doubleheader, split games vs. Reds

The Mets' day-night doubleheader at Shea Saturday produced several positives, from a possible reawakening of Carlos Beltran's bat to a strong outing by struggling young pitcher Mike Pelfrey. But the prevailing emotion in the clubhouse following the nightcap against the Reds was regret thanks to an awful final two innings. The Mets were able to celebrate their 12-6 victory over the Reds in the opener for "about an hour," David Wright said, before beginning preparations for Game 2, a disheartening 7-1 loss in which they wasted what Willie Randolph called Pelfrey's "best outing of the season." The Mets had only four hits in the second game - one fewer than ex-Met Jeff Keppinger had by himself - and couldn't figure out burgeoning nemesis Bronson Arroyo. Arroyo, who entered with an ERA of 8.63, allowed one run in eight innings, struck out nine and retired the final 13 Mets he faced. The Mets also made two errors - one by Wright, one by Carlos Delgado - that led to three unearned insurance runs off Billy Wagner in the ninth. Duaner Sanchez, brought into the game in the eighth to keep it at 2-1, was terrible, allowing four hits and two runs as the chance for a sweep slipped away. "We've got to go out and play better than that," Wright said. "Arroyo pitched great, but to be the team we want to be and can be, we have to play better than that. We won the first and offensively we did well, but we lost the second and it was disappointing." Beltran had five RBI in the opener, including a bases-loaded triple that broke open the game, and Delgado, dropped to seventh in the order for the first time this year, was 3-for-4. Delgado and Brian Schneider hit back-to-back homers, the first consecutive home runs by Met hitters all season. Schneider's home run was his first extra-base hit as a Met. While Johan Santana (4-2) matched a career-worst by giving up 10 hits, he allowed only three runs on a day when he said he didn't have his best stuff. He Continue Reading

Easter Ache Hunt: Alternative treats for food-allergy sufferers in NYC

THE EASTER Bunny has a lot to be hopped up about this year. Food allergies don’t have to take the fun out of packing the perfect Easter basket. There are plenty of sweet treats for those with gluten, dairy, nut and food dye intolerances without compromising flavor. Get your gluten-free on with macarons, rice krispie treats and handmade lemon marshmallow chicks, go nuts with nut-free Easter egg-shaped sugar cookies or get your faux chocolate fix with a vegan peanut butter Easter bunny made with carob. Food allergies affect nearly 15 million Americans according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and that number is on the rise. “Everyone knows the anticipation and pure bliss of digging through your Easter basket, but what if you were allergic to sugar, dairy or even chocolate? It wouldn’t make for a very festive holiday,” says Jodi Feinhor-Dennis, who started the confection company Missy J’s, which specializes in dairy-free goodies that feature tasty flavor combinations from a mix of ingredients like coconut, almond, sea salt, mint lime and vanilla chai. Here’s your guide to the ultimate Easter treats for those with food allergies. GLUTEN-FREE Handmade Marshmallow Chicks ($9.00 for four at Epicerie Boulud, 1900 Broadway) Michelin starred chef and restaurateur Daniel Boulud was motivated to create gluten-free sweet treats at his Upper West Side bakery after his daughter was diagnosed with celiac disease. Boulud puts a fancy spin on the iconic Easter candy Peeps by making a marshmallow meringue he transfers into pastry bags, and then piping it out into the shape of a chick. Boulud adorns the bright yellow treats with sugar, and uses chocolate pearls for the eyes and orange fondant for the beak. Easter Macarons ($39 for 12 at Epicerie Boulud, 1900 Broadway) Boulud also serves up pastel colored Easter macarons filled with raspberry, hazelnut, pistachio and black currant. Angry Orchard Continue Reading

Allergy season lasts longer than ever, thanks to a ‘pollen tsunami’; Here’s how to survive.

Spring allergies are running rampant right now because of the recent onslaught of a “pollen tsunami.” Experts have said this season could be the worst in many years due to the long, wet, and cold winter we just endured, which ironically paved the way for an abundance of allergens. SAMADI: VAPING AMONG TEENS TROUBLES ME The extremely cold temperatures we experienced this winter caused a delay in tree pollination, which is now occurring at the same time as grass and flower pollinations. People living in cities like New York may surmise they do not have to worry about excess pollen since there are not as many trees and pollen-producing plants around. Unfortunately, they would be wrong. Air pollution makes people even more susceptible to spring allergies — and in a city like New York, air pollution is everywhere. NYU experts say pollen counts will rise 20% by 2020, and keep increasing over the next 25 years. Allergies are a condition in which the immune system reacts abnormally to a foreign substance such as pollen, mold or pet dander. Such triggers cause annoying symptoms such as sneezing, itchy eyes, nose or mouth, runny or stuffy nose and watery, red or swollen eyes. SAMADI: PROSTATE CANCER NOT JUST AN OLDER MAN'S PROBLEM Our immune system produces antibodies that protect us from harmful substances that can make us sick. When our bodies are exposed to allergens, our immune system’s antibodies work to identify what is causing an allergic reaction. Allergens most often enter our bodies by inhalation through the nose and lungs. They are often inhaled via airborne pollens of certain trees, grasses, weeds, house dust — including dust mite particles — mold spores or cat and dog dander. The body’s immune systems reacts to these allergens by inflaming our skin, sinuses, airways or digestive system. It may seem like this is Continue Reading